Robert Pfeffer’s influential career in particle technology recognized with service award
Above: Robert Pfeffer (second from right), a research professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, was awarded the ANSYS Particle Technology Forum Service Award in recognition of his service to the particle technology community. The award was presented at a Particle Technology Forum dinner at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual meeting in Orlando, Florida held Nov. 13. Pfeffer has an extensive career as an influential educator, researcher, organizer and leader. Photo courtesy of Robert Pfeffer
Robert Pfeffer, a research professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, was recognized for service to the particle technology community with the ANSYS Particle Technology Forum Service Award.
During his academic career spanning more than 60 years, he has dedicated himself to advancing research to better understand particle science and technology and develop new processes for cost-effective manufacturing processes.
The educator, academic leader, publication editor, conference organizer and co-founder of the Particle Technology Forum says he was honored to receive this recognition.
“I was very pleased to be notified by the PTF Awards Committee Chair that I will be receiving the 2019 ANSYS PTF Service Award,” Pfeffer says. “The ANSYS award recognizes my service to the PTF, to my colleagues and students, and to the broader particle technology community.”
The editor of the PTF newsletter says the award recognizes Pfeffer’s lifetime of outstanding scientific and technical contributions to the field in addition to his leadership in promoting scholarship, research, development, service and education in this area.
Jerry Lin, a Regents Professor of chemical engineering in the Fulton Schools, says Pfeffer has done pioneering work in the field, with significant contributions and fundamental understanding of the flow of cohesive powders, including his invention of microjet-assisted fluidization of nanopowder — a way to improve processes that require the control of tiny nanoparticles.
“He has been a strong leader in the educational front of chemical engineering, particularly in the field of fluidization and fluid-particle systems,” Lin says. “Dr. Pfeffer is truly deserving of this award recognizing his lifetime achievements in research and education. He is a role model for all of us in pursuing excellence.”
Pfeffer has been involved in the Particle Technology Forum since before it was officially created in 1992. He was a member of its first executive committee and was elected treasurer by executive committee members. In 1994 he was one of three organizers of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ First International Forum on Particle Technology and was a key organizer and committee member for events through 2010.
He has previously earned the 1995 PTF Elsevier Particle Technology Forum Award for Lifetime Achievement, the 2000 Shell Thomas Baron Award in Fluid-Particle Systems and the 2008 PSRI Fluidization and Fluid Particle Systems Award based on his research accomplishments.
Pfeffer has a long research history in particle science and technology, resulting in numerous journal articles, including more than 160 refereed journal articles and 30 conference proceedings papers, received 13 U.S. patents and has presented invited papers and research seminars worldwide.
“I consider my research on the fluidization behavior of nanopowders as one of my most important contributions,” Pfeffer says. “This research has opened a new window in the study of fluidization processes, and nanofluidization has become an active area of research throughout the world.”
In this research, supported by industry and a National Science Foundation Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team, or NIRT, award, Pfeffer’s predictive models and experiments showed that applying external force fields to the fuiod/nanoparticles, such as vibrations or using high-sonic velocity micro-jets, will significantly improve the fluidization quality of nanopowders. This reduces the minimum fluidization velocity and eliminates plug formation and channeling to achieve a smooth, bubbleless, homogeneous liquid-like fluidization.
In 1979, he co-founded the International Fine Particle Research Institute with a colleague at Loughborough University and a senior manager at DuPont. The consortium of large multinational companies supports particle science and technology research at leading universities throughout the world. The organization is still highly successful today, having grown to more than 40 member companies since its original 12 members.
Since the mid-1990s, Pfeffer has championed enhanced education and research funding to make U.S. manufacturing competitive in particle products and processes.
With co-investigators at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, he was awarded two education NSF grants: Particle Technology in the Undergraduate Curriculum and Particle Technology in Manufacturing Processes. The second grant also supported his mentorship of graduate students in particle technology research and the introduction of new courses in the undergraduate and graduate curriculum.
Throughout his career, Pfeffer has mentored 40 doctoral students and countless other undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdocs and professionals who went on to have very successful careers in both academia and industry.