Prof. Arvind Varma has been awarded the 2017 Natta Medal
Natta Medal is an award that the Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering of Politecnico di Milano assigns every year to an eminent Professor, who has distinguished himself/herself in the world for his/her original studies and researches, and has reached outstanding achievements in the main areas of interest for the CMIC Department.
This award was established for the first time in 2013 to celebrate the 50ths of the Nobel prize to Giulio Natta. It implies a Lectio Magistralis at the beginning of our academic year and the assignment of a medal.
This distinction was presented to Dr. Varma in recognition of his “outstanding contributions to the science of chemical and material engineering, for his professional achievements in guiding major institutions, and for his efforts in advising students and younger colleagues at various levels in their academic careers”.
In the Lectio Magistralis, some selected research programs to produce energy carriers and valuable chemicals from new or renewable sources, currently being conducted or recently completed in his laboratory, has been discussed. These included (i) hydrogen generation for PEM fuel cell vehicle applications, (ii) catalytic upgrading of bio-oils, and (iii) utilization of glycerol, a biodiesel waste product, for production of valuable chemicals and fuels. The research relies on development of new catalytic materials and/or processes and demonstrates successful applications of the principles of chemical and catalytic reaction engineering to solve problems of contemporary interest.
Professor Varma serves as the Director of the Purdue Mexico Center for Sustainability (PMCS). Building upon existing collaborations between Purdue University and Mexican institutions, PMCS aims to develop deeper relationships that will include education and research activities in bioenergy; nanotechnology for energy, environment and agriculture applications; engineering to mitigate natural disasters; and water management.
Professor Varma's research group investigates topics in hydrogen and other energy sources, and chemical and catalytic reaction engineering. The projects typically involve combined experimental and modeling studies.
A major current emphasis involves new methods to generate hydrogen for fuel cells, for both portable applications such as notebook computers and mobile phones, and vehicle transportation. For portable applications, combustion of novel chemical mixtures is used to obtain high hydrogen yield and safe solid reaction products. Other current energy-related directions involve feasibility studies for underground coal gasification in the state of Indiana, catalytic conversion of glycerol (byproduct of biodiesel production) to valuable chemicals, and development of new catalysts for oxidative coupling of methane to ethylene and higher hydrocarbons. A universal method for crude glycerol purification from different feedstock in biodiesel production has also been developed recently.
Another recent direction is carbon sequestration, which involves capture and storage of CO2. Specifically, we are developing new oxygen carriers for chemical looping combustion, a new technology with inherent separation of CO2 in power plants using fossil fuels, either natural gas or gas from coal and/or biomass gasifiers.
A major emphasis in recent years has been combustion synthesis, a process for the production of advanced materials. We have focused on understanding the mechanisms involved in the synthesis and structure formation of materials such as ceramics, intermetallics and composites. This understanding can be used to control the microstructure, and hence the properties, of advanced materials such as nanoscale oxide powders for adsorption and catalysis, intermetallic-ceramic composites for aerospace applications and alloys for orthopedic implants. Our current efforts in this area are focused on developing solution combustion synthesis, a one-step method for the preparation of nanostructured complex metal oxides with tailored composition, phase, oxidation state, and surface areas by variation of tunable synthesis parameters, for a variety of catalytic and other applications.
Other recent investigations in chemical and catalytic reaction engineering have included novel synthesis of metal-composite and ceramic membranes, inorganic membrane reactors, and multiphase reactors. Current research projects in multiphase reactors include two directions: hydrodynamics studies of trickle-bed reactors with a particle size distribution of catalyst support which has a significant effect on reactor performance, makes reactor modeling difficult and leads to failure of scale-up; and experimental hydrogenation studies for pharmaceutical applications.
For further info about prof. Varma: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ChE/people/ptProfile?resource_id=11068
Worried 'bout it