Monday, November 19, 2012

Ken Starling Inducted Into Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame

From left: Roger Harrison, Lance Lobban, Ken Starling, Barbara Starling, Musharraf Zaman and Sridhar Radhakrishnan
Ken Starling, emeritus George Lynn Cross Research Professor and emeritus Cedomir Sliepcevich Professor of Chemical Engineering was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame Oct. 9, 2012 at the Jim Thorpe Association and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame Museum.

Starling received a bachelor of science degree in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&I University, a master of science degree in Gas Engineering and a doctoral degree in Gas Technology from Illinois Institute of Technology.

Starling’s experience includes service for Conroe Drilling Company, Republic Pipeline Company, research engineer for the Institute of Gas Technology, senior research engineer for Esso Production Research Company, planning group of Electric Power Research Institute, and professional consulting.
Starling taught training courses for many years with the John M. Campbell Company, which included gas conditioning and processing, pipeline design and natural gas measurement. In the academic arena, Starling was a Welch Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Rice University; assistant professor, associate professor, director or the School of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, George Lynn Cross Research Professor, interim vice provost for Research Administration at the University of Oklahoma; visiting professor, University of Leuven in Belgium; and visiting researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway. Starling currently is chairman of Starling Associates, Inc.

Starling was named a fellow of AIChE in 1996, and in 2003 was awarded the Gas Processors Association’s Don Katz Award for outstanding accomplishments in gas processing research and technology, and for excellence in engineering education.

Starling retired in January 1995 from CBME following nearly three decades at the University of Oklahoma. Starling's most outstanding contributions to the chemical engineering profession have included two well-know equations of state that bear his name: the Carnahan-Starling equation of state, a closed form solution of the hard sphere fluid compressibility that is the basis for several extended van der Waals equations; and the BWRS (Benedict-Webb-Rubin-Starling) equation of state, resulting from his work to develop more accurate equations of state for systems of interest to chemical engineering.

His hard sphere equation of state has been of prime importance even beyond his profession, to physicists and chemical physicists as a theoretical tool to separate hard sphere molecular interactions from other short-range molecular interactions.

Prior to joining the CBME faculty, Starling gained considerable industrial and research experience at Republic Pipeline Company, the Institute of Gas Technology in Chicago, Esso Production Research Company in Houston, and at the Electric Power Research Institute in Calif.

Starling joined what was then known as the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science faculty at OU as an assistant professor in 1966. He was promoted to associate professor in 1969 and served as school director 1974-75. He was promoted to George Lynn Cross Research Professor in 1978 and served as vice provost for Research Administration from 1978-79.

Starling's many honors include the Mid-America State Universities Association Honor Lectureship in 1977 and 1978 and the OU College of Engineering Award for Outstanding Faculty Achievement in Research in 1981. Starling served on the editorial review board of Energy Progress, and as director of the AIChE Fuels and Petrochemicals Division. He has chaired numerous technical sessions at national meetings of AIChE and was a member of the national program committee from 1971 through 1977.

Starling has long been active in continuing education for engineers in the oil and gas industry through affiliation with the John Campbell Company, as chairman of the executive committee of the International School of Hydrocarbon Measurement from 1981 to 1992, and through his own company, Starling Associates, Inc., which applies expertise to implementing software into the oil and gas industry's real-time measurement and rapid accounting systems to meet the 1992 industry standards set out in the American Gas Association Reports numbers 3 and 8. Starling published more than 100 papers and a book, Fluid Thermodynamic Properties for Light Petroleum Systems.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New discovery shows promise in future speed of synthesizing high-demand nanomaterials

 (Left) Moien Farmahini, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering, runs experiments with mechanical engineering professor Wilson Merchán-Merchán in the lab on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus.
NORMAN, Okla. – A new discovery by University of Oklahoma and North Carolina State University researchers shows a breakthrough in speeding up the process for synthesizing transition metal oxide nanostructures. What had once taken days can now be accomplished instantaneously.

After previous success using an oxygen-enriched flame to synthesize common nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes, nanofibers and fullerenes, OU College of Engineering professor Wilson Merchán-Merchán and his team conducted experiments using the same method to create a new form of nanostructures. Instead of synthesizing the carbon nanomaterials, they discovered a method of creating 1-D and 3-D TMOs that have distinctive electronic and mechanical properties.

With a multi-year grant from the National Science Foundation, Merchán-Merchán and his research affiliates are exposing bulk transition metals to the hottest parts of an oxygen-enriched flame. From that reaction, high-demand transition metal-oxide nanostructures are instantaneously synthesized, including nanorods, hollow channels and hybrid nanowires and platelets. 

Inexpensive and quick growth of TMOs means a better chance for large-scale synthesis and eventual common use in the marketplace. The potential for increased supply has led to increased experimentation on the capacity of TMOs, and the results show their effectiveness in a diverse range of applications.

“Recently, one-dimensional TMO naonostructures have attracted tremendous attention due to their applications in optics, medicine and electronics,” Merchán-Merchán said. “For instance, the micron-sized channel structures with nanometer wall thickness contain slender, prismatic and completely hollow cavities that can be used in medical applications for drug delivery.”

Most recently, this research team coated the surface of solar panels with one of their flame-formed tungsten oxide nanorods. The result was a 5 percent increase in the solar panel’s efficiency, a large gain considering solar panels’ notoriously low efficiency rating of 15 to 20 percent.

With endless applications and a new horizon of possibilities, Merchán-Merchán’s research into TMOs is still in its infancy. 

“The distinct shape and chemical composition of the flame-formed nanostructures may change the way many products are designed,” Merchán-Merchán said.

“Our next steps are to expand the application of TMOs using flames, in a variety of markets ranging from solar panels to electrodes for penetrating biological tissues for drug delivery and electrodes in lithium-ion batteries.”

Merchán-Merchán said in order to scale-up the process, which is necessary for commercialization, an industrial partnership is essential.

In addition to Merchán-Merchán, the OU research team includes doctoral student Moien Farmahini as well as North Carolina State University researcher and professor Alexei Saveliev and doctoral student Shubham Srivastava.