Richard Parnas



Ph.D., UCLA (1990)

Webcasts: Making Biodiesel Fuel at UConn

Biodiesel Fuel Conversion Experiment: Flash | QuickTime

 Current Research

  • Biofuels Production and Separations
  • Renewable Polymers and Composites
  • Interface Engineering

Professional Activities

Guest Professor: College of Chemical Engineering, Sichuan
University, 2012-present
Member: Chemistry Department, UConn, 2012 – present
: Polymer Program, UConn, 2001-present
Member,: Environmental Engineering Program, UConn, 2009-present
Symposium Chair: 6th Joint Sino-US Chemical Engineering Meeting, Beijing, November 2011.
Co-Organizer: URI/UCONN Biofuels Symposium, 2009, UCONN Biofuels Symposium 2010.
Chair: UConn Biodiesel Symposium (2006), UConn Biofuels Symposium (2007), and UCONN Sustainable Energy Symposium (2008).
Chair: Gordon Research Conference on Composites, 1999.

Current Research Group

Ph.D. Students M.S. Student High School Students
Baishali Kanjilal
Iman Noshadi
Louis Crone
Cheng Dao
Rodrigo Ortega Paula Chen
Seth Federer

Research Statement

In-situ Membrane Diagnostics for Fuel Cells
Fuel cell durability is limited by membrane degradation. Fiber optic based probes allow us to watch Nafion membranes during normal fuel cell operation. The data illustrate large temporal and spatial fluctuations in membrane water content during macroscopically steady-state operation. This indicates that the membrane is under large dynamic stresses and may point to an important contributor to degradation. The spectroscopic techniques also permit analysis of water partitioning between membrane and vapor at several temperatures, providing fundamental data for transport models necessary for design optimization.

Flow in Porous Media
Rapid measurement equipment to assess the permeability of composite reinforcements has been built. Large data sets indicate that the permeability of multi-layered materials is statistically distributed. However, the statistical distributions appear to depend strongly on the textile weave pattern used to construct the material. For example, the in-plane components of the permeability tensor are uncorrelated in some materials but highly correlated in other materials. This has strong implications for manufacturing reliability since highly correlated statistics lead to highly reproducible flow patterns during resin injection, and poorly correlated permeability statistics may lead to widely variable flow patterns making injection flows difficult to predict.

New Feedstocks for the Commodity Plastics Market
New plastics are being developed from plant protein, a renewable and biodegradable resource. Small quantities of designed molecules are added to the protein to improve the toughness by an order of magnitude without decreasing stiffness. The current challenge is stabilizing the properties of the protein based plastic. Understanding the interactions of moisture with the modified protein structure is expected to help develop the processing and formulation strategy for maximizing property stability.

UConn Biodiesel Consortium
A consortium of faculty from several colleges recently formed the UConn Biodiesel consortium. A small scale production facility has been constructed to convert all UConn waste vegetable oil produced by Dining Services to biodiesel fuel for use in the UConn bus fleet. This effort includes many undergraduate students from the Chemical Engineering and Chemistry Departments, as well as a smaller number of students from Economics and Natural Resources. Byproducts from the biodiesel production process, such as glycerol and partially converted glycerides, are being evaluated as feedstocks for the polymerization of biodegradable materials.

Previous Positions

2006-2008 Director, Chemical Engineering, University of Connecticut
2001-2010 Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Connecticut
2000-2001 Guest Professor, MTM Dept, Katholieke Universiteit, Belgium
1996-2000 Composites Group Leader, Polymers Division, NIST
1990-1996 Chemical Engineer, Polymers Division, NIST
1985-1989 Research Assistant, UCLA
1984-1985 Chemical Engineer, SRI International
1982-1984 Research Assistant, UCLA
1980-1982 Project Engineer, Exxon Research & Engineering

Awards & Honors

2007 UConn Environmental Achievement Award
2007 Pioneering Nanotechnology Competition Certificate of High Merit
2007 UConn Environmental Achievement Award
2001 Katholieke Universiteit Senior Fellowship
2000 Fulbright Scholar
1999 Int. Conference on Automated Composites, Best paper
1997-1998 Programming Committee – Nat’l. Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering
1995, 1998, 2000 Society of Plastics Engineers, ANTEC Meeting, Best Paper
1993 Department of Commerce, NIST Bronze Medal
1987 and 1988 RAND – UCLA Fellowship
1987 UCLA Distinguished Scholar
1986 Fannie and John Hertz Fellowship


US Patent 10,086,339 B2, R.S. Parnas, A. Asandei, B. Kanjilal, and I. Noshadi, Polymers and Membranes for Separations of Polar Organic Compounds from Aqueous Mixtures and Methods of Using, October 2, 2018.

US Patent 9,701,911 B2, L.M. Pratt and R.S. Parnas, Process for Converting Fats, Oils and Greases into Fuels, July 11, 2017.

US Patent 9,381,677, R.S. Parnas, A. Asandei, S. Hemsri and T. Dowding, Process for Particleboard Manufacture, July 5, 2016.

US Patent 8,951,452 B2, R.S. Parnas, A. Asandei, S. Hemsri and T. Dowding, Process for Particleboard Manufacture, February 10, 2015.

US Patent 8,597,518 B2, R.S. Parnas and S.Y. Li, Pervaporation Composite Membrane for Aqueous Solution Separation and Methods for Using the Same, December 3, 2013.

US Patent 8,461,376 B2, R.S. Parnas, Systems for Alkyl Ester Production, June 11, 2013.

US Patent 8,119,832 B2, R.S. Parnas, Systems for Alkyl Ester Production, February 21, 2012.

US Patent 7,695,970, R.S. Parnas and Y.P. Patil, Optical fiber based fluorescence sensor for in-situ measurement and control of fuel cells, April 13, 2010.


Recent Publications

Y.Zhou, I.Noshadi, H.Ding, J.Liu, R.S.Parnas, A.Clearfield, M.Xiao, Y.Meng, L.Sun, Solid Acid Catalyst Based on Single-layer α-Zirconium Phosphate Nanosheets for Biodiesel Production via Esterification, Catalysts, 8(1), 17, 2018.

Li, Y.; Changjun  Liu; Richard Parnas; Yingying  Liu; Bin Liang, Houfang Lu, The CO2 Absorption and Desorption Performance of the Triethylenetetramine + N, N-diethylethanolamine + H2O System, Chinese J. Chem.Eng., DOI: 10.10.16/j.cjche.2018.04.014, 2018.

L. Fu, Y. Qing, R. Parnas, Y. Liu, B. Liang, W. Jiang and H. Lu, Purification of Biodiesel by Bubbling CO2 to React with 1,8-Diazabicyclo[5.4.0]undec-7-ene and Glycerol, J. Biobased Mat. Bioenergy, 12(3), 259-65 2018.

R. Kamat, Y. Zhang, M. Anuganti, W. Ma, I. Noshadi, H. Fu, S. Ekatan, R. Parnas, C. Wang, C. Kumar and Y. Lin, Enzymatic Activities of Polycatalytic Complexes with Nonprocessive Cellulases Immobilized on the Surface of Magnetic Nanoparticles, Langmuir, 32(44), 11573-79, 2016.

S.Zeng, C.Tao, R.Parnas, W.Jiang, B.Liang, Y.Liu, H.Lu, Jatropha curcas L. oil extracted by switchable solvent N, N-dimethylcyclohexylamine for Biodiesel Production, Chinese J. Chem. Eng., 24(11), 1640-1646, 2016.

S. Du, J.A. Valla, R.S. Parnas and G.M. Bollas, Conversion of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) based waste carpet to benzene-rich oils through thermal, catalytic and catalytic steam pyrolysis, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 4(5), 2852–2860, 2016.

Y. Xie, R. Parnas, B. Liang, Y. Liu, C. Tao, H. Lu, Synthesis and Characterization of Switchable Ionic Compound Based on DBU, CH3OH and CO2, Chinese J. Chem. Eng., 23(10), 1728-32, 2015.

C. Diao, H. Xia, R.S. Parnas, Wheat gluten blends with maleic anhydride functionalized polyacrylate cross-linkers for improved properties, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 7(40), 22601–22609, 2015.

W. Ju, G. Jing, R.S. Parnas, B. Liang, Calcium-based regenerable sorbents for high temperature H2S removal, Fuel, 154, 17–23, 2015.

B. Kanjilal, I. Noshadi, J.R. McCutcheon, A.D. Asandei, R.S. Parnas, Allylcyclohexylamine functionalized siloxane polymer and its phase separated blend as pervaporation membranes for 1,3-propanediol enrichment from binary aqueous mixtures, J. Membrane Sci., 486, 59-70, 2015.


Contact Information
Phone(860) 486-9060
Mailing Address97 North Eagleville Road, Unit 3136, Storrs, CT 06269-3136
Office LocationIMS-206