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ISSUE 1 VOLUME 2 2009

ChemEng
TEACHING AND RESEARCH NEWS FROM THE
focus
Thanks to our February 2009 Volume 2, Issue 1

Corporate
Supporters Professor Dong Chen receives AFSIA
Award for Excellence in Drying Research
At the 16th International Drying Sympo-
sium (IDS 2008), held in Hyderabad,
India in November 2008, Professor Xiao
Dong Chen was presented with the
AFSIA Award for Excellence in Drying
Research - recognising an individual’s
career achievements and contributions
to drying. Professor Chen said, “This
will motivate me towards more mentor-
ing of younger academics to make real
contributions to the community.” Professor Xiao Dong Chen at the Award
Dinner event held at the Ramoji Film City
AFSIA is the French Association of R & in Hyderabad, India.
D for Agricultural Industries and one of
more cost-effective transportation around
the most influential drying R&D profes-
sional associations in Europe. AFSIA Australia and the world.
have instituted this award since 1990, to Over 80% of industrial production world-
Inside this issue:
recognise researchers who have con- wide involves at least one unit operation of
Million Dollar Grant Success tributed significantly to transferring the drying. The worldwide shortage of energy
2 results of their academic research to has placed drying research in great demand
industry and into real practice. This in recent years as water removal is very
New staff to the Department 2
award encourages researchers to col- energy consuming.
Integrated Industrial
Placement Program 3 laborate with industry and actively par-
Victoria has Australia’s largest dairy based
Faculty of Engineerging
ticipate in extension activities. industry that relies on drying operations to
Alumni Awards 4 Drying covers all aspects of removing make dairy powders for a primarily overseas
Alumni Profile: Art Looi
5 water from materials such as agricul- market. Research undertaken at the Depart-
tural products and foods including dairy ment of Chemical Engineering led by Profes-
Australia-China Science Links
6 products, pharmaceuticals, blood serum sor Xiao Dong Chen, has been aimed at
Dr. Ravichandra Potumarthi - products, forest products and many reducing energy consumption substantially
Awared Endeavour Research 7 other products to achieve a higher qual- and at the same time being able to maintain
NEWS in brief ity upon usage, longer shelf-life and high qualities in food and biotechnology
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products.
The statements made or opinions expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of Monash University
Volume 2, Issue 1

Million Dollar Grant Success!


Dr Warren Batchelor in collaboration with materials. Chemical and treatment New grants totaling
Profs George Simon (Materials) and Paul technologies will be developed to radically
$1.15 million
Stuart (Ecole Polytechnique) have been reduce fresh water requirements for
dollars will be used
successful in obtaining a large grant. The production. Innovative new products will be
research will study Novel Cellulosic developed by controlling cellulose interaction to conduct
Products and Sustainable Bioresource with water to resist atmospheric and liquid research Novel
Engineering. The total value of funding will water penetration, while reducing sheet
Cellulosic Products
be $1.15 million over the next three years, density. Nano-structured zeolite-paper
and Sustainable
including a contribution from the ARC of composites for greenhouse gas adsorption
$660,000. This grant proposes a portfolio and storage and filtering applications will be Bioresource
of linked projects to transform the developed and deployed for water use Engineering.
Australian paper industry. Methods will be reduction. Innovative models will be
developed to assess industry and product developed relating structure to performance.
sustainability and compare with competing

New staff to the Department


Dr. Michael K. Danquah Dr. Bradley Ladewig completed his
completed his Bachelors Bachelors degree with first class
degree at the Kwame honours at The University of
Nkrumah University of Queensland in 2002, and his PhD in
Science and Technology 2006. His doctoral research focussed
(KNUST) in Ghana and on the development of new polymer-
graduated with 1st class inorganic nanocomposite membranes
Honours in 2004. In 2005, Dr Danquah joined Dr for the direct methanol fuel cell. He worked as a
Gareth Forde’s research group and conducted his postdoctoral researcher for the CNRS in Nancy, France for a
doctoral research on the topic “Rapid production of year, doing modelling and simulation for a fuel cell
therapeutic plasmid DNA via pilot-scale bacterial demonstration project.
fermentation and monolithic purification for
Most recently he worked in the ARC Centre of Excellence
vaccination and gene therapy applications”. In 2006,
for Functional Nanomaterials at The University of
Dr Danquah won the Victorian Student Excellence
Queensland, developing novelnanocomposite membranes for
Award in Biotechnology, a prestigious award from
water desalination by electrodialysis. Dr Ladewig is currently
Ausbiotech. In 2008, Dr Danquah won the “Chemical
recruiting PhD students and will build a research group
Engineering Early Career Award” (see article on pg.
focussed on polymer and composite membranes for water
4). He completed his PhD in 2008 and joined the
and energy applications. He will co-teach first year unit
Department as a lecturer in January 2009. He is
ENG1010 Process Systems Analysis and ENG1061
currently supervising five research students and will
Engineering Profession.
teach CHE3171 Bioprocess Engineering & co-teach
CHE2165 Bio-Nano Engineering.

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The statements made or opinions expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of
Volume 2, Issue 1

Technology in Schools Project


Three Monash chemical engineer- ogy Studies Project
ing students have gone back to (ENG4616). The fourth-year elec-
primary school to teach school tive unit is offered to engineering
students about the science and students by Monash's Faculty of
technology behind everyday phe- Education.
nomena.
Unit coordinator Robyne Bowering
Blake Stewart, Hugh McKeown and said the unit aimed to provide engi-
Priya Srikantharajah taught the neering students with opportunities
school students about maths and to develop the interpersonal and
engineering concepts. Some topics communication skills that were es-
covered overall by students in the sential for becoming a successful
program included 2D and 3D leader in the modern engineering
shapes, design procedures, what industry. "These skills include being
makes a strong shape, angles, bal- able to effectively communicate
ance, and how to use the 3D com- information to technical and non-
puter drawing program Google technical personnel, leadership and
Sketch Up. organisational skills, problem solving
The project is part of a Monash skills, teamwork and how to be an
unit called the Schools' Technol- effective life-long learner."

Integrated Industrial Placements Five Engineering Graduates awarded


2009 postgraduate scholarships
For the second year, five of our top final-year students Five Engineering graduates have been awarded dual
will be skipping all classes, and instead spending their scholarships during the 2008-2009 scholarship round.
1st semester working on a significant project in an The successful awardees are: Ria Amelia, Anushi
industry setting. Five companies—VISY, AMCOR, Kulasiri, Siew Pei Hoo, Amanthi Jayemanne and Junfei
Melbourne Water, Orica and GlaxoSmithKline—are Tian. The Department received 60 applications from a
hosting 5 students to work on a range of industrial combination of national and international candidates.
projects. Ria Amelia, who undertook a placement Dr Wei Shen said "The quality of candidates this year, as
during Semester 1 of 2008 with GSK said “This in previous years, was extremely high! The students who
industrial experience was an extraordinary opportunity received the 2009 scholarships are selected on their
for an international student like me, to experience academic performance, work/research experience, and
Australia’s working environment. The project provided
publications. We are looking forward to these students
for me was an interesting one since it was based on a
starting in the Department.." The Department currently
new developed theory against an existing problem in a
has 65 postgraduate students. The new students will
production line. This project was also a big challenge
be joining an existing elite group of students within the
for me and GSK. We were working from developing
Department.
the method of observation until the implementation of
the finding and reporting. Overall, this experience was
irreplaceable, nurturing me with knowledge that can
only be found in an industrial environment."

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The statements made or opinions expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of Monash University
Volume 2, Issue 1

Faculty of Engineering Alumni Awards


The Faculty of Engineering Alumni Awards cocktail eve- and MIPRS) from the Monash Research Graduate School
ning (21st October 2008) was a huge success with over at Monash University. In 2005, Dr Danquah joined Dr
200 people attending the evening. Alumnus from all five Gareth Forde’s research group and conducted his doc-
Engineering Departments enjoyed catching up on each toral research on the topic “Rapid production of thera-
others career paths and reminiscing over stories of earlier peutic plasmid DNA via pilot-scale bacterial fermentation
student years at Monash University. Professor Sridhar and monolithic purification for vaccination and gene ther-
gave a welcome speech, and then handed the ceremony apy applications”, as plasmid molecules have proven to be
over to Professor Peter Darvall to announce the individ- future vectors in medicinal biomolecule development. In
ual winners from each Department. The winners for De- his research, Michael developed an integrated design and
partment of Chemical Engineering are; downstream process environment for plasmid production
that allows a single-stage purification of supercoiled plas-
Dr. Roy Armfield - Distinguished Alumni Award. mid based products on both analytical and semi-
Dr Armfield combined an undergraduate and postgradu- preparative scales with maintained product integrity. This
ate degree from Monash University. During his time at body of work represents a great breakthrough in biopro-
Monash University, Dr Armfield was a member of the cess engineering, as purification of biomolecules for prod-
Students’ Representative Council. Dr Armfield was one of uct development can now be performed rapidly at high
the pioneers in the area of computer control during his throughput with reduced number of unit operations re-
PhD degree. Dr Armfield’s international professional ac- quired in downstream processing and increased produc-
complishments took him through ICI Australia, Cadbury tivity. A PCT patent application has been filed on this
Schweppes, and ultimately became the worldwide Direc- technology and discussions are now ongoing with differ-
tor of Scientific Services based in Virginia, USA
ent companies and industries for commercialisation.
(headquarters of the US$21billion global food and pet
care firm). His responsibilities spanned Mars Incorpo-
rated’s global operations covering over 215 sites, 100
manufacturing facilities, and sales in more than 100 coun-
tries. He established and ran the Mars Scientific Advisory
Board, which comprised a group of 8 university-based
academics with outstanding credentials in nutrition, epide-
miology, medical science, and process engineering. These
scientists undertook specific research projects, and collec-
tively reviewed them together with the senior research
associates of Mars Incorporated. A number of significant
research papers in relation to nutrition and health re-
sulted. The overall goal was to put Mars in the leading
global position with its products and product knowledge
on nutrition and health. The concept of health includes all
aspects of bodily functions, disease prevention and treat-
ment, and mental well-being. In addition to his profes-
sional interests, his community service contributions con- Dr Danquah & Professor Webley (HOD)
tinue to the present. Dr Armfield is a member of the
Flood Levy Committee based at Cobram and a member In 2006, Dr Danquah won the Victorian Student Excel-
of the Moira Shire Tourism Council, based on Yarra- lence Award in Biotechnology, an Ausbiotech prestigious
wonga and Cobram. This body encourages activates which award. The award was presented to him during the 2006
supports tourism and includes the region from Sheppar- Ausbiotech Conference in Sydney. Dr Danquah com-
ton (to the border), Rutherglen and Echuca. Dr Armfield pleted his PhD in 3 years with 12 peer-reviewed interna-
remains an enthusiastic advocate of Monash University tionally recognised journal papers as well as several con-
Alumni and a willing presenter to the Monash Under- ference papers. Dr Danquah continues his collaboration
graduate Leadership Program. with the Department of Chemical Engineering as a lec-
turer. Dr Danquah is working on an Australian Research
Dr. Michael K. Danquah - Chemical Engineering Council (ARC) linkage project between Monash Univer-
Early Career Award. Dr Danquah undertook his sity and Bio-Fuels Pty Ltd. Dr Danquah enjoys mentoring
Bachelors degree at the Kwame Nkrumah University of new PhD students in the Bio Engineering Laboratory
Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana and graduated (BEL) research group and plans to be an inspiration to
with 1st class Honours in 2004. In 2004, Dr Danquah was other students wishing to come from Ghana to study at
awarded two Postgraduate Research scholarships (MDS
Monash University.
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Volume 2, Issue 1

Alumni Profile: Art Looi to the labour intensive Kuala Lumpur personnel supervision & resource allocation.
plant. The exercise successfully raised the The autonomy I enjoy has allowed me to put
Degree: BE(Hons1), PhD (Chemical production yield from 84% to 90% within in place very rewarding organisational
Engineering) the first 6 months. Personally, I have been changes to the business unit which I manage.
Graduating Year: 1995, 2001 enriched by the cross-cultural experience. I have introduced knowledge management
The 12-week vacation employment with Having delivered all the key performance principles to the department & also estab-
the Strategic Research Division of Gen- targets, I left MEMC to return to the lished a staff development program to facili-
eration Victoria at the end of my third chemical/process engineering sector. I tate effective succession planning & business
undergraduate year had stimulated my joined Trident Consultants Far East continuity. On the technical front, I have
interest in engineering research. I sub- (Malaysia) [TCFE], a safety & risk manage- successfully established & implemented a risk
sequently undertook a research project ment & dynamic simulation service pro- management framework to evaluate emer-
as an elective in my final year. Then, I vider to the oil & gas industry, as a Lead gency plans & fire protection adequacy of
successfully co-developed a prototype Consultant. This proved to dangerous goods sites. The out-
high-pressure-low-flowrate coal feeder, be a significant career "From the research come of these initiatives signifi-
which was made an essential part of a move; as I developed my cantly enhance operational risk
drop tube furnace research facility, for technical specialist compe- lab to the boardroom management of the organisation &
the Cooperative Research Centre for
New Technologies for Power Genera-
tencies, I also acquired the … from particle community safety at large.
essential business manage-
tion from Low-Rank Coal [CRC]. ment skills at TCFE. In technology to risk Since the change in the Victorian
dangerous goods related legisla-
Prior to completing my undergraduate addition to supervising up management … tion in 2000, the MFESB has re-
program, I had already decided to pur- to 10 engineers in multiple
sue my PhD. I accepted a generous concurrent projects, I was from international tained the associated responsibili-
ties without the authority to en-
scholarship & the opportunity to work also involved in pre- manufacturing and force. Losing the status as a regu-
with Prof Martin Rhodes. Coupled with contracts & budget man-
my interest in energy resources, Prof agement. I have always consulting to lator, coupled with the shift from
the formerly prescriptive regula-
Rhodes & I developed a project to in- been passionate about emergency services tory regime to the current per-
vestigate the prospect of pressurised process safety & TCFE was formance based laws, was ex-
steam-fluidized bed drying. As part of the ideal launching pad for … this is my story" tremely challenging for the MFESB.
my PhD work, I designed & supervised my career in risk manage- It was, therefore, inevitable to
the construction & commissioning of a ment. However, the com- transform the Dangerous Goods
pressurised steam-fluidized bed coal pany valued my process Department to adopt partnership
dryer pilot plant & a full-size pressurised modelling skills more & relationship management phi-
cold model of the dryer. The ambitious highly, so I was predomi- losophy. To effect this cultural
project, unfortunately, had to be scaled nantly charged with the change, mentoring & staff capabil-
down & the pressurised cold modelling responsibility to manage & ity development became the main
component subsequently became a execute projects in the
focus of my current role.
separate PhD project. niche dynamic simulation
market. TCFE was a small To perform my executive role
Not wanting to simply complete a effectively, I have to continually
“traditional academic” PhD, I accepted consultancy when I joined
the company & my profes- acquire non-engineering skills,
the CRC’s offer to fund my project. such as financial management,
Consequently, I joined a larger research sional growth was tremendously acceler-
ated by the diverse project exposure. I corporate risk management & corporate
program to improve the efficiency of
power generation from low-rank coal. recall managing a project to simulate the governance. Having equipped myself with
The commercially focussed collaborative surge protection of a compression system these competencies, I decided to expand my
program had provided me with the op- designed for a gas field in the Middle East. horizon by assuming a governance role as I
portunity to learn the intricacy of intel- The job was executed in Kuala Lumpur sit on the Board & the Audit, Finance & Risk
lectual property protection & project while the clients were located in Italy (the Committee of the Institute of Public Admini-
management. Beside qualifying for my compressor manufacturer) & Korea (the stration Australia (Victoria).
PhD, I also gained the knowledge of EPCC company). My career has evolved across a wide range of
developing commercialisation potential After returning to Melbourne, I was ap- industries. The geographical & cultural diver-
of new technologies. pointed a Risk Engineer by the Metropoli- sity experience is priceless. My experience in
It is essential for a young engineer to tan Fire & Emergency Services Board the public sector has helped me to appreciate
gain as much practical experience as [MFESB]. I started to assume significant the “human side” which is rarely seen by an
possible during the early stage of his/her roles in general & corporate management engineer. Am I still a chemical engineer or
career. South East Asia was the ideal since my promotion to the position of the have I become a public administrator? De-
place to acquire the hands-on experi- Dangerous Goods Department Manager. spite my career progression to general man-
ence I needed when I completed my As a senior technical strategy leader, I agement, I remain a keen chemical engineer.
PhD in 2000. I was subsequently ap- provide safety & sustainability expert ad- My technical knowledge is regularly updated
pointed a Process Engineer by MEMC, a vice. My pragmatic approach, which I by participating in IChemE & IEAust activities
multi-national silicon wafer manufac- attribute to my engineering training, influ- & contributing to these professional bodies is
turer, in Malaysia. As a principal engi- ences senior regulatory policy makers not very rewarding, & I encourage all engineers
neer, I was in-charge of the final cleaning only in Victoria but also in other jurisdic- to do the same. It was a very fulfilling experi-
& inspection of silicon wafers. I was tions of the Commonwealth. My current ence to be Treasurer of the highly successful
also given the responsibility to transfer role also includes quality management of Chemeca 2007 & I look forward to my first
technology from a sister plant in Japan deliverables, performance assessment, assignment as an IChemE course accredita-
tion assessor.
Would you like to be featured in a future Alumni profile issue? Please email lilyanne.price@eng.monash.edu.au
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Volume 2, Issue 1

Monash researchers awarded funding to strengthen


Australia-China science links
Monash researchers collaborating with scien- The other successfully funded project, lead by
tists from Shandong University and Wuhan Professor Paul Webley, examines the syn-
University of Technology in China have been thesis, characterisation and performance test-
awarded $250,000 from the Australian gov- ing of advanced nanomaterials based on car- “Professor Webley
ernment to assist with two scientific re- bon for application to new energy related
search projects. technologies. and his team aim to
Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Specifically, the researchers expect that in the
Industry, Science and Research awarded the develop improved
future, cars and trucks will be powered by
funding to strengthen Australia’s national electric power provided either by batteries
research effort and boost the nation’s inno-
materials to store
and supercapacitors or by fuel cells. Cur-
vation performance. rently, materials that are able to store elec-
enough electricity
Professor Edwina Cornish, Deputy Vice- tricity or store hydrogen for use in fuel cells
Chancellor (Research) said that she was can only power cars for up to 100kms before (or hydrogen to
proud that Monash was one of twelve Aus- needing to recharge. Professor Webley and
tralian universities to attract funding. his team aim to develop improved materials generate the
"International collaboration in the name of to store enough electricity (or hydrogen to
research literally opens up a whole new generate the electricity) for a range of up to electricity) for a
world of opportunities for Monash research- 500km - similar to current petrol engine cars.
ers," she said. The materials proposed in this project will be range of up to
"By collaborating with China, Monash re- developed at Monash University and tested at
Wuhan University of Technology. This pro-
500km—similar to
searchers are able to utilise global networks,
technologies and infrastructure leading to ject has the potential to reduce the world’s
current petrol
greater research outcomes and solutions." reliance on petroleum and diesel for trans-
port and reduce carbon emissions.
One project lead by Dr Jian Li, aims to de- engine cars”
velop novel antibiotics against "superbugs," "On behalf of Monash University, I would like
multi-drug resistant bacterial infections to congratulate the researchers involved in
through the use of myxobacteria. As a spe- these research collaborations with China,"
cial class of soil bacteria, myxobacteria is said Professor Cornish.
becoming one the world’s best producers of
novel antibiotics. This collaboration with
Shandong University will provide Dr Li and
his team access to the largest myxobacterial
bank in Asia.

Company participation?
Would your company like to offer any of the following?
* Vacation Work Experience to our undergraduate students?
* Graduate Position (Undergraduate and Postgraduate)?
* Speak to undergraduates students at a lunch time seminar about your company?
Then send a email to either wren.schoppe@eng.monash.edu.au or Lilyanne.Price@eng.monash.edu.au
with the details and they will get back to you shortly.

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The statements made or opinions expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of Monash University
Volume 2, Issue 1

Dr. Ravichandra Potumarthi—Awarded Endeavour Research Fellowship


Dr. Ravichandra Potumarthi joins Chemical Engineering after winning the prestigious Endeavour
Research Fellowship awarded by the Australian Department of Education, Science and Technology.
He will be working on “Enzymatic transesterification of algal oils in biodiesel” in Bio
Engineering Laboratory (BEL). Dr. Ravichandra Potumarthi said “Biofuels are gaining
importance in the era of depleting fossil fuels and the contribution of these fuels to the accumulation
of carbon dioxide in the environment. Renewable, carbon neutral, transport fuels are necessary for
environmental and economic sustainability. At this juncture, algal oils are promising source for the
biodiesel. However, technological constraints for converting algal oils into biodiesel in a techno-
economically viable manner is a hard task”. Dr. Ravichandra Potumarthi completed a B.E and
M.Tech in Chemical Engineering and Ph.D in Bioprocess and Biochemical Engineering from reputed
institutes of India. He has more than 7 years of research and industrial experience in the area of
“Bioprocess development for Industrial and Environmental Biotechnology”. Earlier he has been
awarded Andhra Pradesh Akademi of Sciences Young Scientist Award-2007 in the area of Earth,
Atmospheric and Engineering Sciences and The Biotechnology Research Society of India Young
Scientist Award-2007 for his research contributions in the area of bioprocess development. He has “Biofuels are gaining importance
presented his research work in Malaysia (2005), Singapore (2007) and USA (2008). in the era of depleting fossil fuels”

NEWS in brief…..
• Professor Owen E. Potter has been awarded the “Lifetime Achievement Award” in
recognition of his outstanding and sustained contributions to global drying R&D.
• Postgraduate student Trent Harkin received a $600 award from the Australian Institute of
Energy Melbourne. Trent was awarded “Best Carbon Capture & Storage Project” at the
Energy Awards held on the 4th September 2008, for his work on “Integration of Carbon
Capture and Storage into a Brown Coal”. Trent is supervised by Dr Andrew Hoadley.
• Dr Karen Hapgood helped co-run a seminar on “Future Academics” for female engineering
postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers. Organised by the Equity and Access
Committee in September 2008, approximately 17 women attended to learn about academic
career options and strategies for success. Dept Chemical
Engineering
• Congratulations to Kate Frueh, Tomasz Mackowiak, Marco Rullo, Chirot Saranniyatham,
Mark Wheeler & Mohammad B. Zaman, members of this year’s winning CHE4170 poster Monash University
prize team – Group 3. During 2008 the Design Project class consisted of 10 groups of 6 Building 36, Room 226
students, who in addition to giving a detailed presentation, each created a technical poster Clayton VIC 3800

for their project. These posters were judged by Academic Staff and visitors on the following Phone: +61 3 9905 3555
Fax: +61 3 9905 5686
categories: Technical content, organisation (easy to follow) and visual appeal. The prize
E-mail:
awarded to each group member was a Monash Bookshop Gift Voucher. lilyanne.price@eng.monash.edu.au
karen.hapgood@eng.monash.edu.au
• The 2009 Engineering Careers Expo will be held on 25th March. Companies interested in
attending can book a booth by contacting Lilyanne Price
[Lilyanne.Price@eng.monash.edu.au]

Would you like to receive future issues of ChemEng Focus?


If so, please email lilyanne.price@eng.monash.edu.au
and we will add you to our newsletter mailing list.
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The statements made or opinions expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of Monash University