Randy Lewis, Professor and Chair of ChE at BYU, to Present Seminar

October 14, 2015

Biofuels development and global engineering outreach

Wednesday, October 14 at 4:00 pm in the Centennial Engineering Center Auditorium

Biofuels development from sustainable resources is a high research priority for the United States. Production of biofuels via the fermentation of gasified cellulosic feedstocks offers an approach that mitigates many of the adverse effects associated with the production of biofuels via the sugar fermentation route. However, several issues must be addressed to assess the commercial viability of the process. These issues include carbon utilization efficiency, cell growth, ethanol production, product distribution, gas mass transfer rates, effects of syngas impurities, energy output vs. input, and product recovery.  This work will discuss recent findings related to several of the above issues. Specifically, work will be presented regarding enzyme efficiencies, thermodynamic constraints, effects of syngas impurities, and reactor conditions.

In addition, work will be briefly presented on a humanitarian-based engineering course implemented at Brigham Young University in 2007. The course involves undergraduate engineering students from many disciplines and focuses on developing and implementing small-scale engineering projects in developing communities located in Peru. The two-semester, three-credit Global Engineering Outreach (GEO) course focuses on integrating both engineering and social aspects that are critical for developing sustainable products. Students in the course, who speak Spanish, interact on a near-weekly basis with the communities in their native language during project development.

Randy S. Lewis is Professor and Chair of Chemical Engineering at Brigham Young University (BYU).  He has been at BYU for 10 years. He previously was a faculty member for 11 years at Oklahoma State University. He received his BS and PhD degrees in Chemical Engineering from BYU and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, respectively. Randy currently serves as Chair of the AIChE Education and Accreditation Committee and as an ABET commissioner for accrediting engineering programs. He previously chaired the AIChE Career and Education Operating Council and the AIChE Student Chapter’s Committee. His research interests include biomaterials development, engineering education, product design for developing areas, and the utilization of renewable resources for the production of chemicals. One of Randy’s current passions is the integration of engineering and sociology in product development for the developing world. He teaches a class in which students from several engineering disciplines work throughout the year on engineering projects for developing communities and then implement the projects in the communities. Projects have been implemented in Tonga, Ghana, and Peru. Randy is married to a chemical engineer and has nine children.