Plenary Speakers

We are proud to introduce our plenary speakers for the 63rd Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference:

Richard Darton, Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, UK
Adriaan van Heiningen, University of Maine, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Orono, ME, USA
Jesse Zhu, Particle Technology Research Centre, Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Western University

Richard Darton

Plenary Lecture: Monday, October 21, 2013 10:30 – 12:00, Fredericton Playhouse Theatre

Abstract: Sustainable Development: The technical challenges

The human population faces a huge challenge in satisfying its need for development in a way that is sustainable in the long term. Our consumption of oil, gas and coal is causing unacceptable global warming and acidification of the oceans, which will only be moderated by a determined shift to a low-carbon economy. A recent consultation across Europe revealed that members of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering have serious concerns about sustainability issues. In its Perspectives Survey, four fifths of respondents agreed that Climate Change is a big challenge for the future of humanity, and almost 90% felt that countries must do more to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. These views seem to be at odds with the public unpopularity of practical measures like building wind farms and, of course, the rising cost of energy. To improve living standards whilst safeguarding the environment, we will have to become much more intelligent in the way that we supply and use a range of commodities such as energy and water, and services like transport and communications. Chemistry and Chemical engineering expertise will be vital to finding and deploying technical solutions to this challenge, but there will be a need for significant social adaptation as well. The move towards greater sustainability will be a major driver of change in the course of this century.

Bio: Richard Darton worked for Shell in the Netherlands 1975-1991, in research, and also in design and technology transfer roles for manufacturing and oil & gas production. He then joined Oxford University’s Engineering Science department where he was Head 2004-2009. He was Vice President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers 2001-5, responsible for Qualifications and Professional Standards, and President 2008-9. He is currently President of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering. His research interests are: distillation and other separation processes, surfactants, water purification, and sustainable development. He was awarded an OBE for services to engineering in 2011.

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Adriaan van Heiningen

Plenary Lecture: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 10:30 – 12:00, Fredericton Convention Centre, Pointe Sainte Anne A

Abstract: Lignocellulosic Biorefinery Research; a Personal View

Lignocellulosics are considered as feed stock for transportation fuels, commodity chemicals, and biomaterials because they are abundant, can be grown on relatively poor soil using low energy and nutrient inputs, and do not compete with food production. Therefore, production of these renewable and carbon-neutral products in addition to paper, tissue, board and wood products presents many opportunities to the forest products industry. In this Lignocellulosic BioRefinery (LBR), tree stems are processed to traditional forest products, while mill waste streams and biomass are converted into biofuels, biomaterials and chemicals.

Pulp is a global commodity with a market size an order of magnitude less than that of oil-based transportation fluids. On the other hand, the commodity chemicals market size is generally at least one order of magnitude less than that of pulp. Thus LBR biofuels will have a lower price than pulp, while the higher-priced commodity chemicals must be carefully selected since they will be limited by market size, and by competing production from glucose derived sugar cane and starch. To overcome these limitations, the LBR products should be produced from the hemicellulose and lignin fractions of wood or from all components of additional biomass. Also to minimize capital and operating cost, the scale of the lignocellulosic biomass conversion should be maximized and closely integrated with cellulosic fiber production. Different past and present biorefinery research efforts by the author and his collaborators will be presented, and the opportunities and challenges for industrial implementation reviewed.

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Jesse Zhu

Plenary Lecture: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 10:30 – 12:00, Fredericton Convention Centre, Pointe Sainte Anne A

Abstract: Fluidization – the Past, the Present and the Future

Next year marks the 90th anniversary for the first industrial application of the fluidization technology. Unlike many traditional unit operations, fluidization appears to continue spinning out new transformations that keeps it afloat in the forefront of the chemical industry. Thanks to the new developments in biotechnology, nano technology, supercritical fluid, energy conversion etc., fluidization has evolved from the basic gas-solid and low velocity "fixed fluidized bed", to more sophisticated high velocity "fast" fluidization, liquid-solid and gas-liquid-solid fluidization, and the fluidization of ultrafine or even nano particles, where more and more new applications have been identified and realized. Advancements in instrumentation and control have also allowed the fluidized bed reactors to operate in a much narrower band of conditions and/or much closer to their boundaries, thereby to maximizing the benefits.

This talk will provide a time-lined history on fluidization and report on some of the newest applications that have attempted in the author's research group, where fluidization technology has been utilized to develop new applications in powder coating, wastewater treatment, pulmonary drug delivery, ion exchange, protein refolding, ginseng processing, some of which have been or are in the process of being commercialized. Perspectives on possible future R&D directions will also be shared. Finally, discussion on the development trace of a new type of fluidized bed, the circulating turbulent fluidized bed reactor, is very likely to lead to a more philosophical comprehension that may be useful for the further advancements of other chemical unit operations and reactors.

Bio: Dr. Jesse Zhu is a Distinguished University Professor and a Canada Research Chair at Western University. Zhu received his B. Eng. from Tsinghua University in 1982 and PhD from the University of British Columbia in 1998. After working as a Research Scientist for Shell in Europe, he returned to Canada and later joined Western where he attained full professorship in 1999. Zhu's research concentrates on fluidization and powder technology and their industrial applications, with numerous patents and commercialized/commercialization-ready technologies across different industries. Zhu has been a CIC Fellow since 2000, and has been an active member of CSChE, including 3 times on the organizing committee of the annual CSChE conferences, serving as its Program Chair in 1998 and Conference Chair in 2011. Zhu has also received CSChE's Syncrude Canada Innovation Award (1999) and the Bantrel Award in Design and Industrial Practice (2007), among the numerous awards. Zhu is also a Fellow of Canadian Academy of Engineering and Engineering Institute of Canada.

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