The term “transport phenomena” in Chemical Engineering refers to the motion of material or energy, either by diffusion or bulk flow of a fluid (i.e., convection). It encompasses the fields of fluid mechanics, heat transfer and mass transfer, and has applications in diverse applications such as coating surfaces with magnetic inks to make computer disks, predicting the motion of toxic chemicals in soils and streambeds, or separating proteins in downstream bioprocessing. The emphases in our graduate program are in the areas of fluid mechanics and mass transfer.
Professor Powell‘s research group uses a variety of methods to characterize complex, multiphase fluids in different flows. For example, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasonic techniques are used to probe fluids ranging from polymer melts to tomato paste as they flow through tubes or between rotating, concentric cylinders.
Professor Phillips‘ research group studies the behavior of particulate suspensions, with the emphasis being on understanding the effect of this viscoelastic behavior on their microstructure and bulk properties. The transport of proteins and colloidal solutes is also a focus in Professor Phillips’ research group, which uses holographic interferometry (HI) to measure rates of diffusion in polymer gels, and applies fundamental theories to interpret the results. Professors Powell and Phillips share an interest in emulsions, or suspensions of immiscible liquid drops in a second liquid. Emulsions are ubiquitous in drug delivery and food processing, and Professors Powell and Phillips have an active collaboration with Professor Stephanie Dungan in which they study the effects of drop deformation, coalescence and break-up during flow.
Professor Stroeve’s group is studying mass transfer in nanostructured materials, e.g. with applications to protein separation exploring the use of pores with novel conical shapes or modifying the surface properties to allow membrane permeability to be controlled.
The Faller group performs simulations of such systems in order to understand the molecular implications.
Professor Ristenpart studies microfluidic flow systems with a focus on blood flow and electrohydrodynamic effects.