Arvind Varma

R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering
Jay and Cynthia Ihlenfeld Head of Chemical Engineering

FRNY 1060C
Purdue University
School of Chemical Engineering
Forney Hall of Chemical Engineering
480 Stadium Mall Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2100
(765) 494-4075 (office)
(765) 494-0805 (fax)
Joined Purdue in 2004
B.S., Panjab University, India
M.S., University of New Brunswick, Canada
Ph.D., University of Minnesota

Research Interests

Professor Varma's research group investigates topics in hydrogen and other energy sources, and chemical and catalytic reaction engineering. The projects typically involve combined experimental and modeling studies.

A major current emphasis involves new methods to generate hydrogen for fuel cells, for both portable applications such as notebook computers and mobile phones, and vehicle transportation. For portable applications, combustion of novel chemical mixtures is used to obtain high hydrogen yield and safe solid reaction products. For vehicle transportation applications, new methods (Ammonia Borane hydrothermolysis and thermolysis, with additives and under effective reaction heat management) have been developed in our laboratory. Regeneration of spent boron products to efficiently yield ammonia borane is also being investigated. The new methods to generate hydrogen for PEM fuel cell vehicle applications developed in our laboratory provide the highest hydrogen yield among all methods reported in the literature.

Other current energy-related directions involve feasibility studies for underground coal gasification in the state of Indiana, catalytic conversion of glycerol (byproduct of biodiesel production) to valuable chemicals, and development of new catalysts for oxidative coupling of methane to ethylene and higher hydrocarbons. A universal method for crude glycerol purification from different feedstock in biodiesel production has also been developed recently.

Another recent direction is carbon sequestration, which involves capture and storage of CO2. Specifically, we are developing new oxygen carriers for chemical looping combustion, a new technology with inherent separation of CO2 in power plants using fossil fuels, either natural gas or gas from coal and/or biomass gasifiers.

A major emphasis in recent years has been combustion synthesis, a process for the production of advanced materials. We have focused on understanding the mechanisms involved in the synthesis and structure formation of materials such as ceramics, intermetallics and composites. This understanding can be used to control the microstructure, and hence the properties, of advanced materials such as nanoscale oxide powders for adsorption and catalysis, intermetallic-ceramic composites for aerospace applications and alloys for orthopedic implants. Our current efforts in this area are focused on developing solution combustion synthesis, a one-step method for the preparation of nanostructured complex metal oxides with tailored composition, phase, oxidation state, and surface areas by variation of tunable synthesis parameters, for a variety of catalytic and other applications.

Other recent investigations in chemical and catalytic reaction engineering have included novel synthesis of metal-composite and ceramic membranes, inorganic membrane reactors, and multiphase reactors. Current research projects in multiphase reactors include two directions: hydrodynamics studies of trickle-bed reactors with a particle size distribution of catalyst support which has a significant effect on reactor performance, makes reactor modeling difficult and leads to failure of scale-up; and experimental hydrogenation studies for pharmaceutical applications.

Research Group

Graduate Students

  • Danni Gao
  • Ranjita Ghose
  • Gregory Honda
  • Andy Koswara
  • Shinbeom Lee
  • Yang Xiao (Visiting PhD Student, 2012-14)

Research Associates

  • Hyun Tae Hwang

Undergraduate Researchers

  • Philip Gase
  • Timothy Lehnert
  • Steven Merz
  • Christopher Schweitzer

Awards and Honors

Indo-American Fellowship, Fulbright Scholar Award, 1988-89
College of Engineering Teacher of the Year Award, Univ. of Notre Dame, 1991
Special Presidential Award, Univ. of Notre Dame, 1992
R.H. Wilhelm Award, AIChE, 1993
Series Editor (Founding), Cambridge Series in Chemical Engineering, 1996-present
Burns Graduate School Award, Univ. of Notre Dame, 1997
Ernest W. Thiele Award, AIChE (Chicago section), 1998
Chemical Engineering Lectureship Award, ASEE, 2000
Research Achievement Award (Inaugural), University of Notre Dame, 2001
Honorary Fellow (Inaugural batch), Indian Institute of Chem. Engineers, 2001
Technologies of the Year (one of five), Industry Week, 2005
Honoree, 60th Birthday sessions - I & II, AIChE Annual Meeting, 2007
Distinguished ChE Alumnus (Inaugural batch of 3), Panjab University, 2008
Distinguished University Alumnus, Panjab University, 2008
Fellow, AIChE, 2008
Honoree, Festschrift issue, I&EC Research (Volume 47, No. 23), 2008
Elected Foreign Member, Academy of Engineering, Mexico, 2010
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2011
Fellow, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Division, American Chemical Society, 2011
Leadership Award, College of Engineering, Purdue University, 2011
Warren K. Lewis Award, AIChE, 2013

Selected Publications

"Oxidative Coupling of Methane Using Catalysts Synthesized by Solution Combustion Method," R. Ghose, H. T. Hwang and A. Varma, Applied Catalysis A: General, 452, 147-154 (2013).

"Mechanistic Studies of Ammonia Borane Dehydrogenation," A. Al-Kukhun, H. T. Hwang and A. Varma, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 38, 169-179 (2013).

“High and Rapid Hydrogen Release from Thermolysis of Ammonia Borane near PEM Fuel Cell Operating Temperatures,” H.T. Hwang, A. Al-Kukhun and A. Varma, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 37, 2407-2411 (2012).

“Preparation of Highly Superacidic Sulfated Zirconia via Combustion Synthesis and its Application in Pechmann Condensation of Resorcinol with Ethyl Aceoacetate,” G. D. Yadav, N. P. Ajgaonkar and A. Varma, Journal of Catalysis, 292, 99-110 (2012).

“NbF5 Additive Improves Hydrogen Release from Magnesium Borohydride,” A. Al-Kukhun, H. T. Hwang and A. Varma, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 37, 17671-17677 (2012).

"A Comparison of Ammonia Borane Dehydrogenation Methods for PEM Fuel Cell Vehicles: Hydrogen Yield, Ammonia Formation and its Removal," A. Al-Kukhun, H. T. Hwang and A. Varma, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 50, 8824-8835 (2011).

"Kinetic Study of Glycerol Oxidation Network over Pt-Bi/C Catalyst," W. Hu, B. Lowry and A. Varma, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 106, 123-132 (2011).

"Hydrogen Generation from Noncatalytic Hydrothermolysis of Ammonia Borane for Vehicle Applications," M. Diwan, H.T. Hwang, A. Al-Kukhun, and A. Varma, AIChE Journal, 157, 259-264 (2011).

"Method to Release Hydrogen from Ammonia Borane for Portable Fuel Cell Applications," M. Diwan, D. Hanna and A. Varma, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 135, 577-584 (2010).

"Selective Oxidation of Glycerol to Dihydroxyacetone over Pt-Bi/C Catalyst: Optimization of Catalyst and Reaction Conditions," W. Hu, D. Knight, B. Lowry and A. Varma, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 149, 10876-10882 (2010).

"Underground Coal Gasification: A Brief Review of Current Status," E. Shafirovich and A. Varma, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 148, 7865-7875 (2009).

Books

Mathematical Methods in Chemical Engineering, A. Varma and M. Morbidelli, 690 + xvi pages, Oxford University Press, New York, 1997.

Parametric Sensitivity in Chemical Systems, A. Varma, M. Morbidelli and H. Wu, 342+xvi pages, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 1999.

Catalyst Design: Optimal Distribution of Catalyst in Pellets, Reactors and Membranes, M. Morbidelli, A. Gavriilidis and A. Varma, 227 + xii pages, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 2001.

Edited Books

The Mathematical Understanding of Chemical Engineering Systems: Selected Papers of N. R. Amundson, R. Aris and A. Varma (Editors), Pergamon Press, 829 pages, 1980.

Chemical Reaction and Reactor Engineering, J. J. Carberry and A. Varma (Editors), Marcel Dekker, 1069 pages, 1987.

Dr. Varma: Books Published

Mathematical Methods in Chemical Engineering, A. Varma and M. Morbidelli, 690 + xvi pages, Oxford University Press, New York, 1997.

Parametric Sensitivity in Chemical Systems, A. Varma, M. Morbidelli and H. Wu, 342+xvi pages, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 1999.

Catalyst Design: Optimal Distribution of Catalyst in Pellets, Reactors and Membranes, M. Morbidelli, A. Gavriilidis and A. Varma, 227 + xii pages, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 2001.

Edited Books

The Mathematical Understanding of Chemical Engineering Systems: Selected Papers of N. R. Amundson, R. Aris and A. Varma (Editors), Pergamon Press, 829 pages, 1980.

Chemical Reaction and Reactor Engineering, J. J. Carberry and A. Varma (Editors), Marcel Dekker, 1069 pages, 1987.

 

Dr. Arvind Varma: News Releases

June 2013

 

 

Arvind Varma, the R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Jay and Cynthia Ihlenfeld Head of the School of Chemical Engineering, is the winner of the 2013 AIChE Warren K. Lewis Award for Chemical Engineering Education.

January 2011

Arvind Varma Elected AAAS Fellow

Arvind Varma, R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor and Head, School of Chemical Engineering, is elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

August 2010

Professor A. Varma Elected Foreign Member of Mexico's Academy of Engineering

Arvind Varma, R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor and Head, School of Chemical Engineering, has been elected as an Acad�mico Correspondiente (Corresponding Academician, the category for foreign members) of Mexico's Academy of Engineering. This election is in recognition of his academic and professional accomplishments as well as his contributions in support of Chemical Engineering in Mexico.

June 2010

New process is promising for hydrogen fuel cell cars

A new process for storing and generating hydrogen to run fuel cells in cars has been invented by chemical engineers at Purdue University. The process, given the name hydrothermolysis, uses a powdered chemical called ammonia borane, which has one of the highest hydrogen contents of all solid materials.

June 2010

Professor A. Varma Named Fellow of the Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society

The Industrial & Engineering Chemistry (IEC) Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) has named Arvind Varma, R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor and Head, School of Chemical Engineering, as a Fellow of the Division.

March 2009

Indiana has promising sites for underground coal 'gasification' plants, according to A. Varma and E. Shafirovich

A new report pinpoints promising sites in five southwestern Indiana counties for underground operations that can convert coal into a gas for electricity generation, production of chemicals, and plastics and fuels for cars, trucks and aircraft.

December 2008

Arvind Varma honored with 60th birthday Festschrift and two honors from alma mater

Arvind Varma, R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor and Head, has been honored in a special issue of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research magazine, and received two honors from his undergraduate alma mater, Panjab University, in December 2008.

Ind. Eng. Chem. Research: Arvind Varma - Educator, Researcher and Leader

November 2008

Arvind Varma elected Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers

Arvind Varma, R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Head, Purdue School of Chemical Engineering, has been elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

November 2007

Advances in ChE Reaction Engineering: In Honor of Professor Arvind Varma's 60th Birthday

November 2005

AIChE Journal: Heterogeneous Combustion: Recent Developments and New Opportunities For Chemical Engineers

August 2005

Hydrogen Generation for Portable Fuel Cells

http://news.uns.purdue.edu/html4ever/2005/050828.Varma.fuelcells.html

http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2005/September/06090501.asp

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/08/0830_050830_minifuelcell_2.html

November 2004

ISCRE - 18th International Symposium on Chemical Reaction Engineering: From Molecular to Product and Process Engineering

August 2000

Scientific American: Form from Fire

February 1998

Chemical Engineering Education: ChE Educator - Arvind Varma of Notre Dame