Department of

Chemical Engineering

Designing molecular technology for the 21st century with biology and chemistry


Professor Thomas Wood | News

National Science Foundation grant will help
create beneficial biofilms on water purification membranes

A team of researchers from the Chemical Engineering Department (Manish Kumar, Thomas Wood and Tammy Wood) and Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences (Thomas Wood and Tammy Wood) receive a $400,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop a novel approach for preventing biological fouling of reverse osmosis desalination membranes titled, "Living Reverse Osmosis Membranes".

Reverse osmosis is a critical membrane technology for developing new water sources and often serves as the final barrier for removal of salts and other contaminants during water treatment. But reverse osmosis membranes are susceptible to biological growth and biofouling, which occurs when thick biofilms form, causing problems with the treatment process.

Photo of faculty member Manish Kumar. Photo of faculty member Thomas Wood. Photo of postdoctoral scholar Tammy Wood.

From left to right: Faculty member Manish Kumar, faculty member Thomas Wood and postdoctoral researcher Tammy Wood.

View the complete story, "NSF grant will help create beneficial biofilms on water purification membranes" on the Penn State News website.

Thomas Wood and Costas Maranas receive a Department of Energy Grant

Faculty member Thomas Wood and Costas Maranas along with Greg Ferry in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) were awarded a Department of Engergy (DOE) $3 million ARPA-E grant, entitled "Methane-to-Acetate Pathway for Liquid Fuel".

Penn State will engineer a biocatalyst that makes use of methane as a co-reactant to generate chemical precursors of liquid fuels. Unlike other conversion approaches, this approach will explore reversing a naturally occurring sequence of reactions that produces methane from acetate. If successful, Penn State's technology will enable cost-effective, energy-efficient, and carbon-efficient conversion of natural gas to liquid fuels.

It is a disinct honor that Penn State was selected for this highly competitive program. This is a great opportunity to convert low cost natural gas from the Marcellus shale into a high value liquid transportation fuel.

The research compliments some of the creative work that will likely be done through the new Institute for Natural Gas Research (INGaR), co-directed by faculty member and Chemical Engineering Deparment Head, Andrew Zydney.

Professor Thomas Wood's Research is Featured on Penn State's Home Page

Professor Thomas Wood's research with biofilms could lead to new treament and the prevention of infections. Additional applications could lead to "Green Chemistry", using bacteria with enzymes to produce chemicals with decreased amounts of waste and pollution in the process.

View more of the story "From oil-spill clean-up to producing alternative fuels, microbial communities have the potential to do great good" on Penn State's Website.

Professor Thomas Wood made a fellow of the
American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering

Congratulation to Professor Thomas Wood who was elected as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).

The induction ceremony will be held at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. in February 2013.

Thomas Wood Research Group Website.

Faculty member Thomas Wood's
biofilm research could help produce drugs and alternative fuels

Chemical Engineering Professor Thomas Wood is colaborating with Texas A&M faculty member Arul Jarayman to produce helpful bacteria in biofilms. The bacteria could help produce drugs and alternative fuels on an industrial scale.

We are familiar with most biofilms as the slimy substance that clings to riverbed rocks and swimming pool walls. New research gives us the ability to populate biofilms with helpful bacteria, and even selectively remove bacteria when needed.

For more about the potential for Dr. Wood's research please refer to the "Bacteria's slimy biofilm could help humans" article on the website.

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