R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering
Davidson School of Chemical Engineering
Forney Hall of Chemical Engineering
480 Stadium Mall Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2100
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.
Purdue Mexico Center for Sustainability
Professor Varma serves as the Director of the Purdue Mexico Center for Sustainability (PMCS). Building upon existing collaborations between Purdue University and Mexican institutions, PMCS aims to develop deeper relationships that will include education and research activities in bioenergy; nanotechnology for energy, environment and agriculture applications; engineering to mitigate natural disasters; and water management.
Visiting Scholars and Postdoctoral Associates
- Yang Xiao
- Chunxiao Xu
- Ryan Adams
- Wooram Kang
- Johnny Zhuchen
- Rexonni Lagare
- Nuttanit (Natalie) Pramounmat
Awards and Honors
“Kinetics of Guaiacol Deoxygenation Using Methane over Pt-Bi Catalyst,” Y. Xiao and A. Varma, Reaction Chemistry & Engineering, 2, 36-43 (2017).
“Acetophenone Hydrogenation on Rh/Al2O3 Catalyst: Flow Regime Effect and Trickle Bed Reactor Modeling,” S.B. Lee, N. Zaborenko and A. Varma, Chemical Engineering Journal, 317, 42-50 (2017).
“An Experimental and Theoretical Study of Glycerol Oxidation to 1,3-Dihydroxyacetone over Bimetallic Pt-Bi Catalysts,” Y. Xiao, Z.J. Zhao, J. Greeley, G. Xiao and A. Varma, AIChE Journal, 63, 705-715 (2017).
“Solution Combustion Synthesis of Nanoscale Materials,” A. Varma, A.S. Mukasyan, A.S. Rogachev and K.V. Manukyan, Chemical Reviews, 116, 14493-14586 (2016).
“The Effects of Particle Properties, Void Fraction, and Surface Tension on the Trickle-Bubbly Flow Regime Transition in Trickle Bed Reactors,” G. S. Honda, J. H. Pazmino, E. Lehmann, D. A. Hickman and A. Varma, Chemical Engineering Journal, 285, 402-408 (2016).
“Acetophenone Hydrogenation on Rh/Al2O3 Catalyst: Intrinsic Reaction Kinetics and Effects of Internal Diffusion,” S.B. Lee, Z. Yu, N. Zaborenko and A. Varma, Chemical Engineering Journal, 288, 711-723 (2016).
“Kinetic Study of Pd-Catalyzed Hydrogenation of N-Benzyl-4-Fluoroaniline,” H.T. Hwang, J. R. Martinelli, R. Gounder and A. Varma, Chemical Engineering Journal, 288, 758-769 (2016).
“Conversion of Glycerol to Hydrocarbon Fuels via Bifunctional Catalysts,” Y. Xiao and A. Varma, ACS Energy Letters, 1, 963-968 (2016).
“Aldol Condensation of n-Butyraldehyde in a Biphasic Stirred Tank Reactor: Experiments and Models,” S.B. Lee and A. Varma, AIChE Journal, 61, 2228-2239 (2015).
“Effects of Pre-Wetting on Bubbly and Pulsing Flow Regime Transitions in Trickle-Bed Reactors,” G. Honda, E. Lehmann, D. Hickman and A. Varma, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 54, 10253-10259 (2015).
“Engineering surface hydrophobicity improves activity of Bacillus thermocatenulatus lipase 2 enzyme,” T. Tang, C. Yuan, H.T. Hwang, X. Zhao, D. Ramkrishna, D. Liu and A. Varma, Biotechnology Journal, 10, 1762-1769 (2015).
“The Value of an Industrial Internship for a Graduate Student Education,” G. S. Honda, J. Pazmino, D. A. Hickman, and A. Varma, Chemical Engineering Education, 49 (4), 195-200 (2015).
“Catalytic Deoxygenation of Guaiacol Using Methane,” Y. Xiao and A. Varma, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 3, 2606-2610 (2015).
“Guaiacol Hydrodeoxygenation over Platinum Catalyst: Reaction Pathways and Kinetics,” D. Gao, Y. Xiao and A. Varma, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 54, 10638-10644 (2015).
“Oxidative Coupling of Methane using Catalysts Synthesized by Solution Combustion Method: Catalyst optimization and kinetic studies,” R. Ghose, H. T. Hwang and A. Varma, Applied Catalysis A: General, 472, 39-46 (2014).
“Review: Lipase-Catalyzed Process for Biodiesel Production: Protein engineering and lipase production,” H.T. Hwang, F. Qi, C. Yuan, X. Zhao, D. Ramkrishna, D. Liu and A. Varma, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 111, 639-653 (2014).
“Hydrodynamics of Trickle Bed Reactors with Catalyst Support Particle Size Distributions,” G. Honda, P. Gase, D. Hickman and A. Varma, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 53, 9027-9034 (2014).
“Conversion of Guaiacol on Noble Metal Catalysts: Reaction performance and deactivation studies,” D. Gao, C. Schweitzer, H. T. Hwang and A. Varma, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 53, 18,658-18,667 (2014).
“Hydrogen Storage for Fuel Cell Vehicle Applications,” H. T. Hwang and A. Varma, Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering, 5, 42-48 (2014).
“Perspective Article: Evolving Trends in Chemical Engineering Education,” A. Varma and I. E. Grossmann, AIChE Journal, 60, 3692-3700 (2014).
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.
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
Arvind Varma, Purdue University’s R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Jay and Cynthia Ihlenfeld Head of the School of Chemical Engineering, will receive the 2016 Arden L. Bement Jr. Award.
The Purdue chapter of Sigma Xi announced that Arvind Varma is the winner of the 2015 Sigma Xi Faculty Research Award.
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.
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).
Arvind Varma, R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor and Head, School of Chemical Engineering, has been elected as an Academico 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Hydrogen Generation for Portable Fuel Cells