Graduate Catalog
2019-2020
 
Policies, Procedures, Academic Programs
Chemical Engineering
College of Engineering
Goodwin Hall at the corner of Prices Fork Road and Stanger Street is the new flagship building for the College of Engineering. It houses 40 instructional and research labs, eight classrooms, an auditorium, and 150 offices for several engineering departments. More than classrooms, offices, and laboratories for Virginia Tech, the building is a ground-breaking experiment to measure even the smallest vibrations made inside the building. Accelerometers can measure vibration from wind loads, structural settling, or even foot traffic.
245 Goodwin Hall, 635 Prices Fork Road, Chemical Engineering Department (0211) Blacksburg VA 24061
Goodwin Hall
Degree(s) Offered:
• MEng
MEng Degree in Chemical Engineering
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Offered In:
• PhD
PhD Degree in Chemical Engineering
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Offered In:
• MS
MS Degree in Chemical Engineering
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Offered In:
Email Contact(s):
Web Resource(s):
Phone Number(s):
540/231-5771
Application Deadlines:
Fall: Jan 15
Spring: Sep 01
Directions
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The Graduate School
to
Goodwin Hall

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Department Head : David Cox
Graduate Program Director : William Ducker (Professor)
Professors: Luke Achenie; Donald Baird; David Cox; Richey Davis; William Ducker; Erdogan Kiran; Yih-An Liu; Chang Lu; Padmavathy Rajagopalan
Associate Professors: Aaron Goldstein; Ayman Karim; Stephen Martin; Abby Whittington
Assistant Professors: Michael Bortner; Sanket Deshmukh; Rong Tong; Hongliang Xin; Huiyuan Zhu
Alexander F. Giacco Professor: Donald Baird
Frank C. Vilbrandt Professor: Yih-An Liu
Robert E. Hord, Jr. Professor: Padmavathy Rajagopalan
Fred W. Bull Professor: Chang Lu

Chemical Engineering Introduction

Overview of ChE Graduate Program
Chemical engineering has and will continue to play a prominent role in all realistic solutions to national and international problems of energy, environment, and food. Progress toward solutions in these areas rests with judicious application of science. Such is the domain of the chemical engineer.
The graduate plans of study in chemical engineering are heavily oriented toward synthesis as well as the usual emphasis upon analysis. There is a strong thread of physics, chemistry, mathematics, biochemistry, and microbiology in much of the research in the department. Active research areas include polymer chemistry, polymer science and engineering, colloid and surface chemistry, solid state chemistry and physics, nanotechnology, applied thermodynamics, molecular modeling, biochemical and tissue engineering, biomaterials, nanomedicine, catalysis and surface science, design for sustainability, green engineering, computer-aided design, and supercritical fluid science and technology. This representative list of topics gives an indication of the breadth and diversity of research areas in the department.
Programs are also available for students with undergraduate degrees other than chemical engineering. Chemistry majors, especially those with thorough backgrounds in physical chemistry and mathematics, as well as graduates in biochemistry and microbiology, can re-orient their studies. The applied science nature of the research in the department facilitates this reorientation process for such students. Ph.D. programs to meet the needs of these students generally may require additional courses.
The Ph.D. and M.S. degrees include a core of 14 credits in transport phenomena, thermodynamics, kinetics and mathematics. These courses are supplemented with electives chosen in support of the thesis research or the student's special interests. The Ph.D. is awarded only to those students who demonstrate the initiative and ability to carry through a significant research program, resulting in a thesis. A thesis is required of all M.S. degree students.
Much of the research in the department involves multidisciplinary efforts; as such, chemical engineering students develop strong interactions with students and faculty in and out of the department and across colleges.

Faculty Members

The department has been growing rapidly in recent years and prides itself in a very diverse faculty.
Offered In ()

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.0
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
  • TOEFL
    • Paper
      • 550.0
    • Computer
      • 213.0
    • iBT
      • 90.0
      • 0.0
  • GRE
    • General Test
      • Verbal :
      • Quantitative :
      • Analytical :

MEng (Project & Report) - Total of 30 credit hours.

  • minimum of 24 graded credit hours
  • maximum of 6 credit hours of Project & Report (5904)
  • may include maximum of 6 credits of 4000-level undergraduate course work
  • all other graded course work must be 5000-level or higher and may include: 3 credits of seminar and a maximum of 9 credits total in 5974, 5984 and 6984

MEng (non-thesis) - Total of 30 credit hours.

  • minimum of 30 graded credit hours
  • may include a maximum of 6 credits of 4000-level undergraduate course work
  • all other graded course work must be 5000-level or higher and may include: 3 credits of seminar and a maximum of 9 credits total in 5974, 5984 and 6984

Offered In ()

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.0
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
  • TOEFL
    • Paper
      • 550.0
    • Computer
      • 213.0
    • iBT
      • 80.0
  • GRE
    • General Test
      • Verbal :
      • Quantitative :
      • Analytical :

PhD - Total of 90 credit hours.

  • minimum of 27 graded credit hours
  • may include a maximum of 6 credits of 4000-level undergraduate course work
  • all other graded course work must be 5000-level or higher and may include: 4 credits of seminar and a maximum of 18 credits total in 5974, 5984 and 6984
  • minimum of 30 credit hours of Research & Dissertation (7994)
Offered In ()

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.0
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
  • TOEFL
    • Paper
      • 550.0
    • Computer
      • 213.0
    • iBT
      • 80.0
  • GRE
    • General Test
      • Verbal :
      • Quantitative :
      • Analytical :

MS (thesis) - Total of 30 credit hours.

  • minimum of 20 graded credit hours
  • may include a maximum of 6 credits of 4000-level undergraduate course work
  • all other graded course work must be 5000-level or higher and may include: 3 credits of seminar and a maximum of 6 credits total in 5974, 5984 and 6984
  • minimum of 6 credit hours of Research & Thesis (5994)

Chemical Engineering Facilities Introduction

The Chemical Engineering Department has state-of-the-art experimental facilities for the chemical, physical and biological characterization of materials.  Computational resources include a departmental cluster and campus-wide supercomputing facilities.

Bio-Nanomaterials Lab

Faculty:  Prof. Richey Davis

Research in this lab concerns the self-assembly of polymers at interfaces and the engineering of nanostructured particles for drug delivery and medical imaging applications.  A major focus is on the formation and characterization of nanoparticles with well-defined size distributions and compositions.  The therapeutic payloads contained in the nanoparticles include small molecule drugs, peptides, and DNA.  Imaging agents contained in the nanoparticles are used for characterizing biodistribution and consist of fluorophores for optical imaging and superparamagnetic iron oxide particles for MRI.  The lab is equipped with instrumentation to characterize the size distributions, surface chemistry, compositions, and related properties of nanoparticles.

Catalysis, Nanomaterials and In Situ/Operando Characterization Lab

Faculty:  Prof. Ayman Karim

Our research is multidisciplinary in the areas of nanomaterials synthesis, in situ/operando characterization, and heterogeneous catalysis. In the nanomaterials synthesis area, work is directed at understanding the nucleation and growth mechanisms of colloidal nanoparticles with the aim to control their size, shape and composition. In the heterogeneous catalysis area, the work is focused on designing catalysts with molecularly tailored properties for biomass conversion, shale gas utilization and automotive exhaust emission applications. The use of microreactors and advanced in situ/operando characterization tools is the cornerstone of the research program and includes: spectroscopy (X-ray absorption and infrared), small angle X-ray scattering, transmission electron microscopy and others.

Colloidal and Surface Engineering Laboratory

Faculty:  Prof. William Ducker

This lab is focused on measuring the physical properties of colloidal particles and surface in liquids.  State-of-the-art instruments are available for measuring rheology, zeta potential, particle size distribution, streaming potential, surface imaging (AFM, and fluorescence microscopy), adsorption (QCM, ATR-IR), and for handling bacterial suspensions.  A major focus of the lab is understanding bacterial adsorption.  The lab has facilities for BSL2 biosafety, and includes a biosafety cabinet and incubators.

Computational Catalysis Lab

Faculty:  Prof. Hongliang Xin

This lab focuses on understanding structure-function relationships of nanoscale materials for energy applications with a multi-scale modeling framework that integrates our expertise in ab-initio calculations, kinetic simulations, and statistical learning.

Computational Materials Design Lab

Faculty:  Prof. Sanket Deshmukh

Our research group is interested in creating new materials and biomaterials promising for use in a number of technologically important areas, such as energy, biomedicine, and tribology.  By coupling statistical mechanical theory and newly developed multi-scale computational models in the group, we improve the fundamental understanding of the structure-property relationships in the existing materials with the assistance from supercomputers.  A deeper understanding of the atomic-level structure and dynamics of the existing materials and proximal solvent molecules empower us to design new hybrid materials with predefined structure and function that can be used in next generation devices.

Drug Delivery and Biomaterials Lab

Faculty:  Prof. Rong Tong

Our work is at the interface of chemistry, materials science, nanotechnology and biotechnology, with interests in the following areas:  (1) polymers and materials chemistry, in particular biodegradable polyester; (2) polymer biomaterials, in particular polymeric nanoparticles for drug delivery; (3) controlled release delivery system, including on-demand drug delivery for cancer therapy.

Lab for Center of Excellence in Process System Engineering

Faculty:  Prof. Y. A. Liu

A computational lab supported by sponsors of our graduate research and industrial outreach in process system engineering, such as Aspen Technology, Inc., SINOPEC and PetroChina.  Current research focus on energy-saving design, validation and applications of CO2 capture and acid gas cleaning processes, adsorptive and chromatographic separations, polymer process modeling, monitoring, and advanced process control, big data analytics and machine learning in bioprocessing and chemical engineering.

Laboratory for Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering

Faculty:  Prof. Padma Rajagopalan

Research focuses on the development of model tissue constructs or functional tissue units and the study of cell-substratum interactions.  A primary goal is to design tissue constructs that mimic the native structure of tissues in vivo and to systematically probe cellular response to a variety of cues. This involves the fabrication of biocompatible scaffolds and templates, and more importantly tailoring surface and bulk properties.  Another research interest is to quantify cell-substratum interactions. Specifically studies focus on how chemical and mechanical properties of an underlying substratum affect cellular motility and contractility.

Membranes and Nanostructured Materials Laboratory

Faculty:  Prof. Stephen Martin

Research focuses on the synthesis, characterization and applications of soft and nanostructured materials, including surfactants, thin films, liquid crystals, liquid crystal polymers, block copolymers and nanocomposites.  Particular emphasis is placed on the relationships between structure in soft materials, materials processing, and control of material properties.  Applications include membranes for gas, liquid, and chiral separations; functional and responsive surfaces; and polymer and nanocomposite processing.  Specialized instrumentation in the lab includes equipment for X-ray Scattering (SAXS and WAXD), optical microscopy, spin coating, contact angle goniometry, liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, isothermal adsorption gravimetry, and gas and liquid permeation (single gas, mixed gas, membrane chromatography, and reverse  osmosis.)

Microfluidics Lab

Faculty:  Prof. Chang Lu

Development of microfluidic devices for studying cells and biomolecules.Research also focuses on understanding microscale fluid mechanics.

Multiscale and Multiphysics Modeling Lab

Faculty:  Prof. Luke Achenie

This facility specializes in molecular to macro-scale modeling and scientific computing.  There are applications to chemical/reactive processes and biomedical problems of current interest.  The facility has a medium size Beowulf style high computing environment.

Nano Energy and Environmental Catalysis Lab

Faculty:  Prof. Huiyuan Zhu

Our research interest primarily focuses on synthetic engineering of nanostructured catalysts with rationally designed interfacial architectures, including metal-metal, metal-oxide, metal-ligand and metal-inorganic support, to achieve desired catalytic properties for sustainable energy and environmental applications. We investigate the atomic-scale architectures and the accompanying electronic and geometric effects on catalysis for small molecule (O2, CO2, N2, CO, CH4, etc.) activation and conversion. Our research aims to address the ultimate scientific challenge as how to modulate the reaction pathway to actively and selectively convert small molecules in our atmosphere to commodity chemicals and fuels.

Polymer Rheology and Processing Lab

Faculty:  Prof. Donald Baird

This laboratory is equipped with devices for measuring the basic flow properties of polymeric fluids and their composites and small scale processing facilities for converting the fluids into useful materials. The basic flow properties are used in the design of processes for converting these fluids into materials with optimum performance and properties.  Computing facilities are available for numerical simulation of polymer processing operations.

Polymer and Composites Materials Laboratory

Faculty:  Prof. Michael Bortner

The PCML focuses on polymer composite processing and resulting morphology and structure property relationships, spanning macro to nano-scale polymer composites. Core research areas include advanced manufacturing approaches for rapid fabrication of carbon fiber based composites, process modeling and materials development for polymer based additive manufacturing, development of novel nanoscale interfacial/interphase characterization analyses in thermosetting polymer nanocomposites, and processing/applications of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs). Specialized equipment includes high temperature (bed/melt)), multi-material extrusion custom additive manufacturing machines; modulated DSC; DMA; capillary and microcapillary rheometers; FTIR + MCT, ATR; laboratory scale extrusion, ultra high T (2200°C) vacuum furnace, Instron loadframe (500N-50kN, various geometries), high energy ball milling, Zeiss stereoscope (motorized stage and ZEN z-stacking hardware/software).

Skeletal Tissue Engineering and Mechanobiology Lab

Faculty:  Prof. Aaron Goldstein

Research in this lab concerns the fabrication of biocompatible polymer scaffolds for the regeneration of bone, cartilage, tendon and ligament tissues. Our goal is to fabricate materials that can provide chemical, biochemical, mechanical, and topographic cues to guide stem cells to migrate, proliferate, and differentiate into various skeletal tissues.  In addition, we are interested in constructing composite and spatially graded materials that could lead to the regeneration of heterogeneous tissues such as the bone-to-ligament transition.  Finally, we are interested in understanding how mechanical stimuli (e.g., tensile strain, hydrodynamic shear) act in concert with biomaterial scaffolds to affect stem cell viability and expression of skeletal tissue phenotypes.

Supercritical Fluids and High Pressure Lab

Faculty:  Prof. Erdogan Kiran

This is a highly specialized laboratory for investigations of thermophysical properties of dense or supercritical fluids and fluid mixtures at high pressures, up to 1000 bar at 200oC. The focus is on thermodynamic and kinetic aspects of miscibility and phase separation and transport properties of dense fluid mixtures with emphasis on applications for polymer formation, modification and processing.  Polymer miscibility and phase equilibria, polymer crystallization, and morphological modifications, polymer foaming and generation of micro or nanoporous materials in supercritical fluid mixtures are among the active research areas.

Ultrahigh Vacuum Surface Science Lab

Faculty:  Prof. David Cox

Capabilities for chemical and structural characterization of solid surfaces and surface reactivity using photoemission, electron diffraction, and temperature programmed desorption experiments.
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