Renewable Chemicals and Fuels: From First Principles to Chemical Manufacturing


Thursday, May 9, 2019 - 4:00pm


ENGR II 1519


Dionisios (Dion) G. Vlachos – University of Delaware


In this talk, an overview of emerging topics in energy will be given followed by an overview of the catalysis center for energy innovation. We will discuss modern technologies that rely on biomass degradation to simple derivatives, such as sugars, followed by a number of reactions, such as Lewis and Brønsted acid catalyst driven isomerization and dehydration to convert sugars to valuable intermediate furans. Diels-Alders and dehydration chemistry will be outlined for the production of renewable aromatics, such as para-xylene. Hydrodeoxygenation of biomass will also be discussed as an effective means to remove oxygen and produce certain platform chemicals. We will introduce new added-value products including adhesives, lubricants, surfactants, and dienes for tires. We will discuss how enabling technologies, such as hierarchical multiscale materials and multiscale modeling, provide insights into novel catalyst selection to facilitate these complex transformations and how process intensification can enable modular chemical manufacturing.


Dionisios (Dion) G. Vlachos is the Allan and Myra Ferguson Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware, the Director of the University of Delaware Energy Institute (DEI) and of the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (CCEI), an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC). He is a Focus Area Leader in the manufacturing institute RAPID. He obtained a five-year diploma in Chemical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece in 1987, his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1990 and 1992 respectively, and spent a postdoctoral year at the Army High Performance Computing Research Center in Minnesota. After that, Dr. Vlachos joined the University of Massachusetts as an assistant professor, was promoted to an associate professor in 1998 and joined the University of Delaware in 2000. He was a visiting fellow at Princeton University in the spring of 2000, a visiting faculty member at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital in the spring of 2007 and the George Pierce Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota in the fall of 2007, and the Elizabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware, 2009-2016. 

Professor Vlachos is the ExxonMobil Visiting Chair Professor, National University of Singapore, Singapore, 2018-2021 and the recipient of the 2016 Catalysis Club of Philadelphia Award, the R. H. Wilhelm Award in Chemical Reaction Engineering from AIChE (2011) and is an AAAS Fellow (since 2009). He received a NSF Career Award and an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award. He is a member of AIChE, ACS, the Combustion Institute, MRS, the North American Catalysis Society (NACS) and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). He has given named lectures: the Distinguished Lecture in Energy, EPFL ChemE seminar series, EPFL, November 30th, 2018, the Doumas Lecture, Department of Chemical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 2016, the ICI Distinguished Lecturer, DB Robinson Lectureship Series at the University of Alberta, 2014-2015, and the J. D. Lindsay Lecture Series, Chemical Engineering Department, Texas A&M University, Oct. 8, 2014. He was a panelist and report writer, Basic Research Needs: Catalysis Science to Transform Energy Technologies workshop, 2017 and the Leader of the Crosscut Panel for the Basic Energy Sciences (BES) Roundtable on Chemical Upcycling of Polymers, April 30 – May 1, Bethesda, MD.  

Dr. Vlachos’ main research thrust is multiscale modeling and simulation along with their application to heterogeneous and electro-catalysis, production of renewable fuels and chemicals, circular economy, data science and catalyst informatics, kinetic model development, and process intensification and modular manufacturing.  

He is the corresponding author of more than 400 refereed publications with over 15,000 citations, and an h factor of 66, and has given nearly 300 plenary, keynote, and other invited talks. Professor Vlachos has served as an executive editor of the Chemical Engineering Science journal and also served or currently serves on the editorial advisory board of ACS Catalysis, Reaction Chemistry & Engineering, Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, Applied Catalysis A: General, and Chemical Engineering and Processing: Process Intensification, among others.

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