Ho and Joshi named Innovator of the Year finalists

Posted: March 23, 2023

Finalists for the Enterprise for Research, Innovation and Knowledge's (ERIK) annual Innovator awards (Innovator of the Year; Early Career Innovator of the Year; and Next Generation Innovator) include two individuals from the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering: Professor Winston Ho and graduate student Rushikesh Joshi. The final winners will be announced at a celebration event to be held Thursday, April 20*.

W.S. Winston Ho

W. S. Winston Ho

Distinguished Professor of Engineering W.S. Winston Ho

whose research focuses on novel high-performance membranes and separations processes, has made many outstanding contributions to research and industry-related innovations. Commercial applications of these innovations include gas-treating processes for the removal of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide from a gas stream. The processes are currently in use at more than 40 refining and natural gas plants nationwide.

On a potentially even larger scale, with support from the Department of Energy, the Ohio Department of Development, and American Electric Power, he is in the process of commercializing an innovative membrane that can capture at least 90% of the carbon dioxide emitted from coal- and/or natural gas-fired power plants and other industrial sectors, such as cement, steel and chemical plants, in a more cost-effective and environmentally- friendly way than current state-of-the-art technology. Until such time that fossil fuels are phased out completely, Ho's membranes could allow for the use of both coal and natural gas with near-zero emissions, and even achieve negative emissions for cement manufacture with the absorption of carbon dioxide from air by the wet cement. 

Another major benefit of his technology is that the captured carbon dioxide, with a purity of at least 95%, can then be put to good use in the oil, chemical and food industries, where demand for quality carbon dioxide is growing. The membrane can also be used to capture carbon dioxide from air and syngas.

Yet another commercial application involving Ho's technology solves the sulfur emission/acid rain problem from refineries and natural gas plants. 

Ho was named one of four finalists for The Ohio State University 2023 Innovator of the Year Award, a program in the Enterprise for Research, Innovation and Knowledge's (ERIK) that annually recognizes innovation across The Ohio State University.

Prior to joining Ohio State as a faculty member, Ho had 28 years of industrial R&D experience in membranes and separation processes. He holds more than 60 US patents, generally with foreign counterparts, in membranes and separation processes. Elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2002, he was named a New Jersey Inventor of the Year in 1991 and has won several national awards from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the premier professional organization for chemical engineers. These AIChE awards include the Clarence G. Gerhold Award (2007)--one of the highest honors bestowed to those working in separations--as well as the Institute Award for Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology (2006) and the Lawrence B. Evans Award in Chemical Engineering Practice (2012). In 2014, Ho was elected to Academia Sinica, the highest form of academic recognition in the Republic of China in Taiwan.

Rushikesh Joshi
Rushikesh Joshi

Rushikesh Joshi

The multidimensional research of doctoral student Rushikesh Joshi seeks to develop next-gen technologies for converting low-grade feedstocks such as biomass, waste plastics, waste gases, biogas, or stranded natural gas into energy carriers such as hydrogen and liquid fuels using chemical looping. The energy-efficient process can economically convert these feedstocks into hydrogen and liquid fuels while capturing the CO2 released in the process. Joshi’s work offers more sustainable alternatives for hydrogen production, biomass processing and waste plastics processing using chemical looping technology.

Joshi is also working on more effective plastic recycling using the chemical looping platform to design a plastics treatment technology that generates energy carriers such as hydrogen or syngas from waste plastics. This work has been filed as a provisional patent. Overall, his research has led to five patent applications, 11 journal publications (six published, five under review), and a conference presentation.

Working under the guidance of Professor Fan, Joshi has been a key student leader in Professor Fan’s commercialization efforts, gaining valuable, “real-world” commercialization experience as he interacts with industrial delegates, financial analysts, investors, and The Ohio State University Technology Commercialization Office (TCO), who have featured Joshi in TCO flyers and news articles. His activities include supporting commercialization efforts with Babcock & Wilcox and other companies, providing essential technology scale-up results.

Joshi, a member of the L.-S. Fan Research Group, was named one of three finalists for The Ohio State University 2023 Next Generation Innovator of the Year Award. 

Apart from his outstanding research achievements, Joshi is also involved in outreach and volunteer activities. For the past three years, he has been a teaching assistant for the Advanced Kinetics course, helping students understand complex chemical engineering concepts. His teaching efforts extend beyond Ohio State as well. In addition to mentoring local high school students around Columbus, he is a research mentor for undergraduate students at Tuskegee University. Through these efforts, Joshi has given back to the community and used his knowledge to build a brighter tomorrow for future scientists and chemical engineers.

Categories: FacultyGrad Student
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