Expert Details

Expert in Chemical Engineering, Process Plant Design, Biofuels, Economic Feasibility

Expert ID: 723276 Australia

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Interests in adsorption go back to his PhD when he studied adsorption of proteins to polymers. He did an extensive surface chemistry course at the time and did a lot of work on zeta potential of particles. Since then he has designed processes using activated carbon as well as activated clays for cleaning solvents. His experience has led him consult on a variety of projects inclding: ultra high-strength concrete, coagulating agents for minerals and, recently, mercury adsorption in natural gas pipes.

This equation is very useful. It does not have an actual derivation curiously enough, as it came from the rate equivalent of the van't Hoff equation for which there is a derivation. He has used it extensively for analyzing rate data especially accelerated stability data for biological substances where its predictions worked well. As a consultant he has examined much data on the stability of latex items (condoms and rubber gloves) and it is clear that ambitious predictions of shelf life (say 5 years) cannot be got from Arrhenius decay analysis. Having said that one should add that one needs data to be as close as possible to the molecular changes observed to enable Arrhenius analysis to work. It is also useful in understanding the thermodynamics of chemical reactions from which one gets a feeling for the activation energy and the usefulness of catalysis.

He has taught process plant design for more than 16 years to undergraduates and learned much himself in the process. At the same time he practiced what he preached and built several plants of his own design. These were on the scale of an oil refinery but pretty demanding in any case. The biggest one was a 100 tonne/day plant for wax emulsion. He designed several innovations for this plant such as a hydrocyclone wax melter and a control scheme dubbed "inverted cascade control". As well as this he knows from experience what goes into a plant design and what can go wrong, namely everything. Since then he has designed and built several smaller plants, his favorites being: (i) a direct-contact chilled brine vapour scrubber and (ii) a supercritical methanol plant for biodiesel.

He has done a lot of this mainly for clients for his consulting business. The client comes typically with a grand scheme for harvesting mineral salts or for chilling rocket fuel or for converting waste into money. More often than not after reviewing the whole scenario and doing a preliminary costing on the process he recommends that they shelve it. However there have been some ideas that get up with some innovation here and there.

He could list all the unit operations that one calls on to design processes but he won’t bother to. Let it be said that he has a pretty good grasp of them and uses them as needs be. He is not much good at Aspen or Hysis as he came in too early but when he needs to he simply uses one of his former students.

He is not a scientist but a chemical engineer who typically picks up the science as needed. So he will not rabbit on about DLVO theory and double layer theory. A more practical person, he can coagulate colloids modify their surfaces in useful ways and generally understand how they think.

This is another term for explosion if you are interested in risk analysis. He has done a lot of this including mathematical modelling of fires BLEVES etc. Management theory comes into this a bit as well. Identifying areas of risk and potential problems is something he has done since he was an undergraduate when he segregated dangereous goods in a chemical warehouse. The company were storing all the oxidants and the fuels in the one large shed, called "the bomb house" quite aptly. He moved all the fuels to one site and all the oxidants to another. Since then he has done many site visits to review safety and many mathematical models of hazardous scenarios for quantitative risk analysis as well as HAZOP studies of new plant for industry.

A micelle is an entity made from amphiphiles, molecules that have a polar end and a non-polar end such as detergents and soaps. A micelle is a cell indeed made from a collection of many amphiphile molecules. Oil in water are the common ones. He has been recently engaged in a consulting job as an expert witness for a company that supplies a propane-deasphalting process for re-refining used motor oil. In this case the micelles are water-in-oil and these are encouraged to swap phases and become oil-in-water micelles by virtue of a phase-transfer catalyst, which happens to be a surface active agent of opposite charge. The process is co-acervation where the charges were neutralized and the micelles destroyed and then rebuilt. He has also studied the effect of nonionic surfactants on enzymes finding reversible inhibition brought about by increased mass transfer resistance.

Every substance has a vapour pressure. One can use Antoine coefficients to calculate them but the real story is how material gets transported from one phase to another. Distillation, Henry's Law and Raoult's Laws are relevant topics. The supercritical state comes in as well. Some time ago he developed a model to explain the non-polar behaviour of SC substances such as water and methanol. Where did the polarity of these molecules go in the SC state he wondered. His answer was clusters of 3 or 4 monomers in which the individual polarity of each monomer was neutralized. The model was confirmed by tunneling electron microscopy several years later independently. He says he felt like Kekule when he "saw" the correct structure of the benzene molecule.

He did lots of electrophoretic mobility measurements on latex particle coated with human immune proteins such as gamma globulins. The work found bilayers of protein were adsorbed and this was a surprise because he was expecting monolayers. Several years later he attended a conference where a scholar from the Max Planck Institute gave a talk on the zeta potential of latex particle which showed him how much new information could be obtained from this technique when approached by one of the foremost research institutions in the world. He now realizes that he knows much less than he thought about zeta potential.


The expert is currently involved in reviewing the operation of a waste oil refinery for a legal case.The expert is currently reviewing problems in petroleum pipeline behavior from offshore rig.The expert designed, built and commissioned a full-scale chemical plant exported to Hong Kong.The expert reviewed the risk of dust explosion on site in a food factory.A supercritical-methanol biodiesel pilot plant was designed and built by the expert.

Education

Year Degree Subject Institution
Year: 1970 Degree: BSc (ChE) Subject: Chemical Engineering Institution: University of Sydney
Year: 1976 Degree: PhD Subject: Chemical Engineering Institution: University of Sydney

Work History

Years Employer Title Department Responsibilities
Years: 1988 to 2006 Employer: self/ honorary professional associate Title: principal Department: Responsibilities: independent principal consultant
Years: 1983 to 1988 Employer: Botechnology Australia Title: Senior engineer Department: Process Development Responsibilities: design of downstream processing
Years: 1975 to 1977 Employer: Massachusetts General Hospital Title: Fellow in medicine Department: Hematology/oncology Responsibilities: Post doc work in studies of cell motility and the roles of actin and myosin.

International Experience

Years Country / Region Summary
Years: 1991 to 1993 Country / Region: Germany Summary: On site training at Linde Munich for LPG plant work. Repeat visits over several years.
Years: 2000 to 2000 Country / Region: China Summary: Site visit to evaluate a plastics to diesel conversion plant.
Years: 1994 to 1994 Country / Region: South Korea Summary: Review of operations in a condom and latex glove factory.
Years: 1997 to 1997 Country / Region: Hong Kong Summary: Installation and commissioning of wax-emulsion plant.
Years: 2000 to 2000 Country / Region: Indonesia Summary: Review of chlor-alkali plant in Northwest Java for Australian Government.

Career Accomplishments

Associations / Societies
Fellow I Chem E
Publications and Patents Summary
He has written over 110 professional consulting reports in chemical engineering

Additional Experience

Expert Witness Experience
Expert is often called on as an expert witness in cases of litigation and in patent disputes.

Some of the cases involve failure of plant and typically require careful examination of the technology involved and in some cases mathematical simulation. Some cases have not gone to court and the parties have settled on the basis of the failure mode being understood and a technical solution being accepted by both sides. By avoiding court, the cost savings to both sides are significant and (in our view) represent a victory for the discipline of Engineering. But not all cases are like this.

The list at Plant failure, legal and insurance issues sums up most of the cases.
Training / Seminars
Plant and thesis design for final year students, particle mechanics, statistics, fluid dynamics, heat exchanger design, distillation plant design
Vendor Selection
He acted as design and purchaser for the wax-emulsion plant (100 tonne-per day)
Marketing Experience
Developed diagnostic kit for Biotechnology Australia Pty Ltd
Other Relevant Experience
Eclectic knowledge of science, chemical engineering and a very good technical writer

Language Skills

Language Proficiency
German fair
Indonesian passable with practice
Chinese beginning an interest

Fields of Expertise

adsorption, surface chemistry, Arrhenius equation, chemical plant design, biomass fuel production, biorefinery, chemical process design, colloid, colloid and interface chemistry, exothermic chemical reaction, micelle, surfactant, vapor pressure, zeta potential, plant design, chemical company site, oil explosion, chemical fire, chemical industry, medical gas, fine-particle technology, surface protection, gas production, organic chemical separation, industrial chemistry, solvation, surface energy measurement, surface characterization, surface modification, biodegradability, surface structure, industrial exhaust system, free ion, chemical plant operation, physical organic chemistry, physiochemical property, electrochemical potential, biophysical chemistry, gas surface chemistry, interfacial water, aqueous suspension, macromolecule physical chemistry, molecular dissociation, chemical plant start-up, polymer surface chemistry, surface physics, colligative property, degree of freedom, chemisorption, gel chemical reaction, surface property measurement, surface property, colloid technology, surfactant chemistry, polypropylene plant technology, metal surface chemistry, interfacial tension measurement, interfacial tension, surface tension measurement, chemical separation, water activity, surface modification engineering, biomass, Beer's law, chemical plant layout, liquid crystal material, gas product, chemical plant, chemical property, supermolecular electronics science, chemical analysis separation, chemical compound absorption, particle suspension (mixture), particle dispersion (mixture), distillation, air pollution process, sorption, solvent extraction, surface, surface effect, industrial gas, industry, molecular structure, phase (homogeneous component), absorption application, chemical process, chemical kinetics, wetting, water physical chemistry, thermochemistry, surface tension, sulfonation, purification, polymer physical chemistry, physical chemistry, monomolecular film, industrial process, industrial gas safety, industrial gas liquefaction, industrial gas cleaning, industrial chemical, hydrogen, gel, flocculating agent, mass transfer, detergent, colloiding, chromatography, catalyst, catalysis, biomass fuel

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