Combining Science and Engineering for Molecular Separations: Thoughts from a Career
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In this lecture, I will attempt to integrate several aspects of my research with selected recent grand challenges announced by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering¹. In addition, I hope to demonstrate that collaboration with physicists, chemists, surface scientists and biologists allow us to address difficult engineering problems with new cross-disciplinary approaches. A seminal overall goal is to improve energy efficiency through process improvements. This includes using secondary flows² (with physicists at the General Electric Global Research Laboratories using magnetic resonance imaging), protein-resistant surface chemistries³ (with surface scientists and engineers at MIT using high throughput combinatorial synthesis) and recombinant DNA technology⁴ (with a biologist at The State University of New York at Albany, using protein with unusual self-splicing properties called inteins) to substantially increase bio-separation performance. In addition, inspired by Nature, we investigate the mechanism of transport through the nuclear pore complex from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, and then successfully mimic its separating behavior⁵ (with Scientists from Rockefeller University). Collaborating with engineers is fast becoming an important aspect of fundamental discovery in biology. Examples include DNA sequencing machines and analysis of large amounts of data using bioinformatics. This presentation offers an inverse process of a chemical engineer who collaborates with a range of scientists. References 1. http://www.grandchallengescholars.org/ 2. Mallubhotla, H, Edelstein, W. A., Earley, T. A. and Belfort, G., (2001) Magnetic resonance flow imaging and numerical analysis of curved tube flow: 16. Effect of curvature and flow rate on Dean vortex stability and bifurcation, AIChE J., 47 (5) 1126-1140. 3. Zhou, M., Liu, H., Venkiteshwaran, A., Kilduff, J. C., Anderson, D. G., Langer, R. and Belfort G. (2011) High throughput discovery of new fouling-resistant surfaces, J. Mater. Chem., 21, 693-704. 4. Wood, D., Derbyshire V. Wu, W., Chartrain, M, Belfort, M., and Belfort G. (2000) Optimized Single-Step Affinity Purification with a Self-Cleaving Intein Applied to a Human Fibroblast Growth Factor, Biotechnology Progress 16, 1055-1063. 5. Nurse, P., (2008) Life, logic and information, Nature 454 (24) 424-426.