WPI professor receives institute award for excellence from American Institute of Chemical Engineers

November 02, 2007

WORCESTER, Mass. - Oct. 31, 2007 - The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the world's leading organization for chemical engineering professionals, will present Yi Hua (Ed) Ma, Frances B. Manning Professor of Chemical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and director of the university's Center for Inorganic Membrane Studies, with its Institute Award for Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology, one of the organization's most prestigious honors, at its annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, next week.

To be presented at the Honors Ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 4, the award recognizes Ma's sustained excellence in contributing to the advancement of technology in the production, distribution, and application of industrial gases, and for his research, which has advanced the frontier of industrial gases technology.

In particular, Ma is being honored for research conducted over the course of more than a decade that led to the development of a novel chemical reactor that uses an ultra-thin membrane made from palladium to separate hydrogen derived from natural gas or renewable sources, such as corn.

The work has been funded by major research awards from Shell International Exploration & Production and Shell Hydrogen, and more recently by the U.S. Department of Energy. The reactor is able to significantly reduce the cost of generating hydrogen pure enough to power fuel cells without poisoning their catalysts. Shell hopes to make the reactor the heart of a hydrogen refueling network for cars.

"We at WPI are extremely proud of Ed's accomplishments and very excited, though not surprised, that our profession has chosen to recognize the high caliber of his lifetime of work," said David DiBiasio, head of WPI's Chemical Engineering Department.

At its 2006 annual meeting in San Francisco, the AIChE honored Ma for his lifetime contributions to the study of inorganic membranes by holding two sessions on membrane-based separations in his honor. The sessions included 12 invited presentations that built upon Ma's pioneering efforts in the development and use of inorganic membranes and membrane reactors, and upon his fundamental studies of reactions in porous adsorbents and catalysts. Ma was named a fellow of AIChE in 1999 and was a longtime member of the institute's Adsorption and Ion Exchange Committee, completing a two-year term as chairman.

Ma, who joined the WPI faculty in 1967, served as head of the Chemical Engineering Department from 1979 to 1989. He founded the Center for Inorganic Membrane Studies in 1988. He holds a BS in chemical engineering from National Taiwan University, an MS in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, and an ScD in chemical engineering from MIT. WPI honored Ma with its 1994 Board of Trustees' Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship; he received the NASA Space Act Award in 1997.

His research on adsorption and diffusion, inorganic materials and membranes, and membrane reactors has resulted in more than 100 scholarly publications and five patents (with two additional patent applications pending). He has served as a director of the International Adsorption Society and a council member and vice president of the International Zeolite Association.
About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI was one of the first engineering and technology universities in the nation. WPI's 18 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to the BS, MS, ME, MBA and PhD. WPI's world-class faculty work with students in a number of cutting-edge research areas, leading to breakthroughs and innovations in such fields as biotechnology, fuel cells, nanotechnology, and information security. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through our innovative Global Perspectives program. There are over 20 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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