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E. V. Murphree Award in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry

February 6, 2006 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 84, Issue 6

Credit: Courtesy of Lian-Shih Fan
Credit: Courtesy of Lian-Shih Fan

Sponsored by ExxonMobil Research & Engineering Co. and ExxonMobil Chemical Co.

Liang-Shih Fan, Distinguished University Professor and C. John Easton Professor of Engineering at Ohio State University's department of chemical and biomolecular engineering, has devoted his career to the theory and application of fluidization, multiphase flow, powder reaction engineering, and powder technology. These areas are of relevance to energy and environmental systems and of direct interest to chemical, petrochemical, mineral, and material industries.

Specifically, the 58-year-old chemical engineer is being honored for his pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of fluidized-bed technologies, including his invention and commercialization of two clean-coal processes: OSCAR (Ohio State Carbonation Ash Reactivation) and CARBONOX (carbon-based NOx reduction technology), which have been described as good choices for power plants that burn the high-sulfur coals of the eastern U.S.

So far, the strategic fluidization operations developed by Fan have been incorporated into a number of commercial fluidized-bed systems, including multisolid fluidized-bed coal combustors as well as fluidized-bed reactors for production of acrylonitrile and maleic anhydride.

Fan's research career has been distinguished by many "firsts." Among these, he pioneered the development of the first three-dimensional electrical capacitance volume tomography for instantaneous and simultaneous flow-field visualization and quantification for gas-liquid, gas-solid, and gas-liquid-solid fluidization systems. His study led to his discovery of a coherent 3-D flow structure and identification of a new three-phase fluidization regime known as the "helical-vortical regime."

He also developed a novel transparent high-pressure and high-temperature flow rig for multiphase flow research. The rig has been used to derive widely recognized high-P and high-T bubble dynamic theories and to develop experimental techniques for in situ physical property measurements for industrial reactor systems.

His contributions in powder reaction engineering are immense and include one of the most important discoveries in recent years in sorbent reaction chemistry. Specifically, his marker and isotope experiments led to the discovery of the outward ionic diffusion mechanism underlying the reaction of SO2 with CaO powder.

Fan earned a B.S. degree from National Taiwan University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from West Virginia University, all in chemical engineering. He did three years of postdoctoral research and earned an M.S. in statistics from Kansas State University before joining the Ohio State faculty in 1978.

At Ohio State, Fan has risen through the ranks and served as department chair from 1994 to 2003. In 2005, he was awarded the Joseph Sullivant Medal, which is given only once every five years and is the highest honor that Ohio State can bestow upon one of its alumni or faculty for eminent achievement.

He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2001. Among his other recognitions, Fan received the Malcolm E. Pruitt Award of the Council for Chemical Research in 2000, the American Society for Engineering Education Chemical Engineering Division Union Carbide Lectureship Award in 1999, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Alpha Chi Sigma Award for Chemical Engineering Research in 1996.

Fan has authored or coauthored three books, 20 book chapters, 14 patents, 290 refereed papers, and 250 conference papers. The award address will be presented before the Division of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry.—Linda Raber


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