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A simple chemical reaction - the rearrangement of electrons and bonding partners - occurs between two small molecules. From understanding the kinetics of the reaction, and the equilibrium extent to which it can proceed, come applications: the network of reactions during combustion, the chain reactions that form polymers, the multiple steps in the synthesis of a complex pharmaceutical molecule, the specialized reactions of proteins and metabolism. Chemical kinetics is the chemical engineer's tool for understanding chemical change.

A catalyst influences the reaction rate. Catalysts are sought for increasing production, improving the reaction conditions, and emphasizing a desired product among several possibilities. The challenge is to design the catalyst, to increase its effectiveness and stability, and to create methods to manufacture it.

The chemical reactor should produce a desired product reliably, safely, and economically. In designing a reactor, the chemical engineer must consider how the chemical kinetics, often modified by catalysis, interacts with the transport phenomena in flowing materials. New microreactor designs are expanding the concept of what a reactor may do, how reactions may be conducted, and what is required to scale a process from laboratory to production.

In the Department, you will find expertise in catalyst design, complex chemical synthesis, bioreactor design, surface chemistry, miniature reactors, chemical reaction networks, and many other areas of chemical reaction engineering. View the pages of individual faculty members to learn about recent and ongoing research.

William H. Green, Jr. Professor 617.253.4580
chemical kinetics, molecular simulation, free radical reactions
Klavs F. Jensen Professor,
Department Head
processing of materials, chemical vapor deposition, microfabrication, surface and gas-phase reaction kinetics, reaction engineering, mathematical modeling
Charles Satterfield Emeritus Professor 617.253.4584
chemical reaction engineering, applied catalysis, diffusion and mass transfer; Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, catalytic hydrotreating
Bernhardt L. Trout Professor 617.258.5021
kinetics of aqueous and biological systems, protein stabilization, nucleation of pharmaceutical and clathrate hydrates, theoretical heterogeneous catalysis, molecular-level design of products and processes, emissions control and sustainable development
Preetinder S. Virk Associate Professor 617.253.3177
turbulent drag reduction, graph-theoretic modeling of hydrocarbon pyrolysis pathways, mechanistic investigation of high-transfer hydrogen transfer pathways