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Engineering professor honored by national academy

Achieving one of the highest honors accorded to engineers in the United States, Shivaji Sircar was cited by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for his “contributions to the fundamental science and technology of adsorption separations and their applications in process industries.”

The NAE, a private, independent, nonprofit institution, advises the federal government on engineering and technology. Its 2,000-plus peer-elected members and foreign associates represent business, academia and government.

Sircar joined the faculty in 2002 following his retirement from Air Products and Chemicals Inc., where he served 29 years and became chief scientist in the company’s adsorption science division.

Professors of practice, who are appointed by the university provost, are faculty members who bring a wealth of practical experience to the university but are not seeking tenure-track positions.

Sircar holds 57 U.S. and 65 international patents, and is the author of 162 scientific publications in refereed journals.

A member of the advisory boards of the journals Adsorption, Adsorption Science and Technology, and Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, Sircar received the Professional Progress Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1988 and the Industrial Gases Technology Award from AIChE in 2001. That same year, a session in adsorption was dedicated in his honor at AIChE’s annual meeting.

A special issue of Adsorption was dedicated to Sircar in 2003.

Adsorption occurs when the molecules of a gas or liquid form a thin film on the surface of a solid or a liquid with which the molecules come into contact. The process is used in a variety of applications, many of them related to the separation of chemicals and gases and the purification of gases and liquids.

At Air Products and Chemicals, Sircar managed a multidisciplinary research team of chemists and engineers and invented many adsorption techniques used to separate gases and liquids. These included pressure-swing adsorption, concentration-swing adsorption, nano-porous adsorbent membrane and hybrid sorption-reaction process schemes. Five of his inventions have been commercialized by Air Products.

Sircar holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from Jadavpur University in India and an M.S. and Ph.D., both in chemical engineering, from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was also a post-doctoral fellow. Besides his career with Air Products and Chemicals, he spent a year as a research fellow at the Central Fuel Research Institute in India.

Five other current members of the Lehigh faculty have been elected to the NAE. They are Fazil Erdogan, the G. Whitney Snyder Professor emeritus of mechanical engineering and mechanics; John W. Fisher, professor emeritus of civil engineering; Alan W. Pense, provost emeritus and professor emeritus of materials science and engineering; Ronald S. Rivlin, university professor emeritus of mathematics and mechanics; Donald M. Smyth, the Paul B. Reinhold Professor emeritus of materials science and engineering; and Marvin H. White, the Sherman Fairchild professor of electrical engineering.

--Kurt Pfitzer

Posted on Wednesday, February 25, 2004

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