Professor Yu Lei, Chemical and Biomelcular Engineering, has been chosen for appointment to a Centennial Term Professorship in the School of Engineering. The Centennial Term Professorships, established through an anonymous donation of $1 million, are aimed at recognizing outstanding faculty members who have left a lasting impact on the School of Engineering through leadership and innovation in teaching, research, mentorship, engagement, and institution building.
Dr. Lei received his Ph.D. in 2004 from the University of California-Riverside. He joined UConn’s Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 2006. Dr. Lei is a well-acknowledged expert in the areas of chemical and biological sensors. The primary area of Professor Lei’s research is to develop novel, simple, cost-effective, ultrasensitive, and universal (bio)sensor and/or nanomaterial-based sensor platforms for the detection of biological and chemical species, which combine the principles of chemical engineering, nanotechnology and molecular biology for homeland security, environmental, energy and biomedical monitoring.
Dr. Lei is an elected Fellow of American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and an elected member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE). He is a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) in Chemical Engineering and was a recipient of UConn School of Engineering Dean’s Excellence Award in 2016. Dr. Lei has over 140 peer-reviewed journal publications, 3 invited book chapters, and more than 10 patents/disclosures.
Richard Parnas of the IMS Polymer Program enjoyed a visit from Governor Danell Malloy to the site of UConn’s collaborative project with the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority and REA Resource Recovery Systems LLC on September 27, 2018. The visit celebrated the first milestone of the project, where the brown grease waste stream from the East Shore wastewater treatment plant is converted to biodiesel fuel in a process patented by Dr. Parnas that REA licenses from UConn. Dr. Parnas and REA installed a mini-refinery at the East Shore treatment plant with capability to produce approximately 400,000 liters per year of biodiesel fuel from the brown grease. That system serves as a 1/10 scale demonstration of a typical commercial system the company can install at many of the thousands of wastewater treatment plants throughout the world. For ease of installation, the entire demonstration system was constructed inside of 2 CONEX shipping containers at ProFlow, Inc. of North Haven, CT. Future plans include the installation of a turbo-electric generator to demonstrate a pathway to converting the waste stream to power at a cost much less then required with current biodigester technology.
Cong Liu, a chemical engineering graduate student working with Prof. Parnas, describes aspects of the conversion process to an aide to Governor Malloy while standing outside of the main reactor room of the mini-refinery.
Governor Malloy, Dr. Parnas, and UCONN Chemistry undergraduate Dylan Ramirez discuss the importance of waste management and power generation to the wastewater treatment industry.
REA managing partner Al Barbarotta, Governor Malloy and Prof. Parnas discussing the chemistry of the conversion process while standing in the main reactor room of the mini-refinery. A cluster of 3 continuous stirred tank reactors, a multi-phase laminar flow reactor, and a liquid/liquid extractor are visible in the background.