Donald Kirwan

Kirwan, Donald J.

Primary Appointment

Professor, Chemical Engineering

Contact Information

PO Box 400741
Chemical Engineering Bldg., 117E
Telephone: 434-924-6278

Research Interests

Mass transfer and separation, crystallization, biochemical engineering

Research Description

The research activities of our group lie in the areas of mass transfer and crystallization, biochemical engineering and benign chemical/ pharmaceutical processing.

The recovery of biochemicals by crystallization and precipitation is quite common in the bioprocess industry because of their ability to produce pure products of desired particle size. However, fundamental understanding of the solubility relations, nucleation rates, growth kinetics and particle morphology of these complex organics is often lacking. Current projects involve measurement and correlation of nucleation and growth rates and phase equilibrium for amino acids and lower molecular weight pharmaceuticals in aqueous-organic mixed solvents. A particular emphasis is on the production of fine crystals by very rapid precipitation processes which also involves experimental characterization and modeling of micromixing phenomena in precipitators. Related projects involve the rapid precipitation of biologically active proteins to avoid denaturation and retain biological activity.

Another aspect of the program involves improved bioreactor performance using hybrid neural networks for fermentation modeling and optimization. Finally, the development of new, environmentally benign solvents for organic synthesis and as precipitants for biochemicals is being investigated.

Selected Publications