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L.-S. Fan gives AIChE's 67th Institute Lecture

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) honored Liang-Shih (L.-S.) Fan as its 67th Institute Lecturer for 2015 at its annual meeting November 9-13. Click here for AIChE's story, and here to watch UC-Davis's chemical engineering department chair, Jennifer Sinclair Lewis, as she interviews Fan about his chosen topic and why metal oxide reaction engineering is important.


Distinguished University Professor Liang-Shih Fan, who also holds the position of C. John Easton Professor in the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, presented AIChE's 67th Institute Lecture on Wednesday, November 11. The one-hour lecture delivered at AIChE's annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, was entitled "Metal Oxide Reaction Engineering and Particle Technology Science: A Gateway to Novel Energy Conversion Systems."

The Lectureship is awarded to a distinguished AIChE member who has made significant contributions to the chemical engineering sciences in his or her field of specialization.

Fan is being cited for his ground-breaking inventions of next-generation clean carbonaceous chemical looping energy conversion processes for carbon dioxide emission control and chemicals production; for his invention of the electrical capacitance volume tomography (ECVT) technology used commercially worldwide for multiphase flow imaging; and for major research, education, and service contributions to particle science and technology.

Fan, who serves as director of Ohio State’s Clean Energy Research Laboratory, is an international authority in the fields of particle science and technology and fossil energy conversion systems. His contributions as a pioneer in fluidization and fluid particle systems have revealed the intricate dynamics of bubble, particle/cluster and fluid interactions and high pressure and high temperature fluidization phenomena, and have impacted the academic research and industrial development of fluidized bed technology for the past 30 years. 

His invention of electrical capacitance volume tomography (ECVT) permits the 3-D, real time multiphase flow imaging of chemical reactor systems. ECVT has been commercialized by his spin-off company (Tech4Imaging) and is being used worldwide in universities and industries. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) are using ECVT for imaging their pilot-scale circulating fluidized-bed reactor system, while NASA is using it for imaging a trickle bed reactor for space missions.   

Fan has also invented eight clean fossil energy conversion processes, including chemical looping processes that have been regarded by the DOE as the groundbreaking technology for CO2 emission control and carbonaceous feedstock conversion (see Fan’s related Perspective article in the January 2015 issue of AIChE Journal). A family of Fan’s chemical looping technologies has proven to be able to generate electricity, hydrogen, syngas, liquid fuels and chemicals while producing pure CO2 with extraordinary economic benefits. 

The widespread impact of Fan’s accomplishments on developing this technology is evidenced by DOE/ARPA-E’s first-run selection of his technology in 2009 as the sole project among 3,600 proposals for large-scale pilot plant demonstration; his receipt of the prestigious 2014 R&D 100 Award; a DOE press release and many other news media reports on the achievement of his technology; and the formation of a start-up company using his technology to convert natural gas to syngas. 

Fan has documented his work in influential books that have shaped education in particle science and technology. His recent book, “Chemical Looping Systems for Fossil Fuel Energy Conversion,” published by AIChE/Wiley in 2010, has been widely adopted by researchers and practitioners around the world. Fan is also the longest serving (21 years) consulting editorial board member of the AIChE Journal representing this field. 

A Fellow of AIChE, he has been honored by AIChE’s Particle Technology Forum with its Fluidization Lectureship Award (1994), Thomas Baron Award in Fluid-Particle Systems (1994), Fluidized Process Recognition Award (1995), and Particle Technology Forum Award for Lifetime Achievements (2008). He has also received the Institute’s Alpha Chi Sigma Award for Chemical Engineering Research (1996) and R. H. Wilhelm Award in Chemical Reaction Engineering (2013). The Institute named him one of the “One Hundred Engineers in the Modern Era” in 2008.

Fan is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and the Mexican Academy of Sciences.

He earned his PhD in chemical engineering at West Virginia University. 


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