Polymer Science and Technology, Supercritical Fluids, and High-Pressure Techniques
My research focuses on supercritical fluids and their applications in polymer formation, modifications, and processing. In particular, I develop new techniques to assess the thermophysical properties of polymers dissolved in or exposed to supercritical or compressed fluids. Such characterizations are essential for the rational design of novel processes to generate new materials with highly beneficial properties. The techniques developed from my research provide new pathways to eliminate or reduce environmentally harmful solvents in processing of materials, thereby positively impacting the environment and society.
I am a chemical engineer with a bachelors from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a masters from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. from Princeton University. I joined Virginia Tech in 2000 as the head of the department of chemical engineering. I returned to regular faculty activities in 2005. Prior to Virginia Tech, I was a faculty member at University of Maine.
Something that excites me in my field…
Putting fundamental concepts into practical use.
I first discovered a passion for this work…
It was in the early 1980s that I fully appreciated that properties of supercritical fluids, such as their solvating power, can be readily and continually changed without entering a two-phase region. With simple manipulations of pressure or temperature, their densities can be tuned to make them act like a solvent at high fluid densities, but act as a non-solvent at low fluid densities. Not only the solvating power but other properties like diffusivity and viscosity also become tunable between gas- and liquid-like values. Such tunability provides excellent opportunities for their use in a wide range of applications.
My work impacts society…
Elimination or reduction of the use of environmentally harmful solvents with benign fluids like carbon dioxide in the processing of materials has far-reaching implications for society.
Groups or organizations I am involved in…
International Society for Supercritical Fluids, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Chemical Society, and the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society.
Words of encouragement to an aspiring inventor…
Be observant of the unexpected. Never give up. I often make the following statement to my students: Nature never lies; you may need to modify or change your thinking.
Honor or award I am most proud of…
I am especially proud of being the founding editor and the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Supercritical Fluids since 1988. Another recognition that I value greatly and am very proud of is the University of Maine’s Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award that I received in 1995. I am also honored and proud of being named the Brunner Lecturer at the International Symposium on Supercritical Fluids to be held in Montreal, Canada in 2022.
The most formative experience I've had…
Professionally, organizing and being the director of two NATO-sponsored Advanced Study Institutes on Supercritical Fluids in 1993 and 1998 allowed me not only to network with the leading scientists, but also to be connected with the future generation of scientists who have now themselves become the leaders in their own countries.
My favorite quote...
There are two quotations that are especially pertinent to science, discovery, and innovation that hang on the walls in my laboratory:
“It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover.” - Jules Henry Poincaré
“The difficulty in science is often not so much how to make the discovery but rather to know that one has made it.“ - J. D. Bernal
Erdogan Kiran | Professor
Department of Chemical Engineering, Virginia Tech
College of Engineering - Faculty Bio Page