ChE welcomes new faculty member, Dr. Cornelius Masuku
Davidson School of Chemical Engineering is pleased to welcome new faculty member Dr. Cornelius Masuku as Associate Professor of Engineering Practice. Dr. Masuku began his new role on August 17, 2020.
Dr. Masuku was previously a Postdoctoral Researcher in Lorenz T. Biegler’s Group at Carnegie Mellon University. He holds undergraduate degrees in Chemical Engineering and Computer Science and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.
"As a faculty member in the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering, I aim to build and lead a research group that develops enabling technologies designed to enhance process efficiency and sustainability," says Dr. Masuku. He explains that the work will rely heavily on the use of mathematical modeling and optimization techniques combined with core chemical engineering principles.
"I believe in the great value of collaborations and have demonstrated it in numerous projects with colleagues from both academia and industry. I am excited by the prospect of expanding my network of collaborators, in and outside of the School," Dr. Masuku explains. "In this regard, I am especially interested in exploring potential collaborations in systems design and optimization of energy and sustainability related projects."
Dr. Masuku believes his research will further grow and develop at Purdue University as he participates in efforts by the Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources (CISTAR) to convert light hydrocarbons to chemicals and transportation fuels in smaller, modular, local, and highly networked processing plants.
"In addition to research, I am equally committed to excellence in teaching," Dr. Masuku says. "With my extensive teaching experience, successful supervision of graduate students, successful grant applications, and my strong background in catalysis and process systems engineering, I am well suited for the instruction of a wide range of undergraduate and graduate subjects, as well as developing my own courses focusing on Process Intensification with its application to Sustainable Chemicals and Energy Processes."
His PhD thesis, Interaction between Reaction and Phase Equilibria in the Fischer–Tropsch Reaction, was advised by Professor Diane Hildebrandt and Professor David Glasser. In his research, Dr. Masuku tested catalysts and developed reactor models that formed part of the design, commissioning, and start-up of a coal-to-liquids pilot plant in Baoji, China. Dr. Masuku spent one year at the University of Kentucky working on catalyst development, characterization, and testing on slurry-phase reactors with Professor Burtron H. Davis.
In 2012, Dr. Masuku received a faculty position at the University of South Africa where he taught Process Control and Reactor Technology to seniors, and advised one PhD and six M.S. students to completion. In 2015, he was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor. He then spent a year at Texas A&M Energy Institute under the mentorship of Professor Christodoulos A. Floudas working on hybrid energy systems. He transferred to Carnegie Mellon University, where he co-advised seven Masters students to completion with Professor Biegler. His current research focuses on Algorithmic developments, Conceptual Designs, and Optimization of Biomass, Coal, or Natural/Shale Gas conversions to Fuels, Chemicals, and Electricity mainly through the Fischer–Tropsch synthesis.
Dr. Cornelius Masuku’s Research Statement
Process intensification (PI) is a branch of process synthesis that encompasses and impacts a number of process technologies. Research in PI has recently gained considerable attention due to challenges related to energy and the environment, alongside risks in capital investment decisions. These challenges necessitate the development of optimization-based computational tools for process synthesis and design, which enable the integration of multiple phenomena that occur at different scales in an intensified unit. Current efforts in the field are yielding promising results that indicate the transformation of the petrochemical industry.
Dr. Masuku’s research highlights the role that PI can play in the production of fuels, chemicals and electricity from biomass, coal, or natural/shale gas, using reactive distillation with a Fischer–Tropsch-based gas-to-liquids application as an example. Several related gas processing PI applications along with recent algorithmic developments for process synthesis are also explored.
In the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering at Purdue, Dr. Masuku’s research plans include:
- Development of Modular Gas-to-Liquids Processes with Membrane Steam-Methane Reformer, Fischer–Tropsch Reactive Distillation and Integrated Product Refining.
- Algorithmic developments in Modeling and Optimization of Biomass, Coal, or Natural/Shale Gas Conversions to Fuels, Chemicals, and Electricity.
- Considerations of Innovative Combinations of Processes for Alkane Utilization.
- Development of Surrogate Models for Large-Scale Real-Time Optimization of Energy/Chemical Process Units.
Learn more about the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering at https://engineering.purdue.edu/ChE.
Source: Dr. Cornelius Masuku, firstname.lastname@example.org