Department of Chemical Engineering


An interview with Prof. Arturo Hernández


Arturo Hernandez

Research Interests: Synthesis And Characterization Of Nanoporous Materials; Separation Via Adsorption


Could you tell us about your education?

I obtained my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. My Ph.D. degree is from the University of Michigan.


Could you tell us about your PhD dissertation?

My Ph.D. work focused on the synthesis, characterization and performance testing of pi-complexation porous adsorbents for desulfurization and denitrogenation of fuels at ambient conditions.


How would you explain the broader significance of your research?

My current research focuses on the bottom-up design of porous (micro- and meso-) adsorbents for bulk and deep purification applications, including CO2 capture, natural gas processing and water treatment. The materials are designed to tackle challenges pertaining to life support systems in space missions, ultrapurification of gas energy sources and emissions, and removal of emerging contaminants from water.


What is the cutting edge in your field and how does your work extend it?

Adsorption, as a fundamental science, reached maturity a few decades ago. Today, the focus is how to make adsorbent materials with superior chemical and textural properties. During the last decade my group has (1) developed materials that synergistically exploit size-exclusion principles and a strong electrostatic surface potential to produce regenerable adsorbents that can remove CO2 to deep levels with minimal energy requirements, (2) synthesized materials that allow pore size tailoring without compromising working capacity and (3) studied third generation inorganic-organic frameworks for gas capture and storage. We are constantly aiming at changing the paradigms in adsorption-based applications.


What facilities do you have to carry out your research?

Our UPRM facilities are equipped the latest instrumentation for synthesis and characterization of nanoporous materials. This includes advanced microwave-assisted heating synthesis and several forced convection systems fitted with high-pressure vessels. Characterization of the materials is performed using, for example, a high performance X-ray diffractometer, a scanning X-ray photoelectron spectrometer, liquid nitrogen porosimetry and zeta potential. We also rely on existing collaborations with key laboratories in the mainland to perform tests that complement ours. Magic angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance (MAS NMR) measurements, for example, are carried out using the facilities of National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida. Our research infrastructure allows us to pinpoint aspects of the materials at the atomic level, allowing us to observe and modify things at unprecedented levels.


In what journals do you publish your research?

Please visit:


Please list your top 3 publications.

Well, "top" is a relative thing. So I would prefer to leave that assessment to the reader!


How do you involve graduate or undergraduate students in your research?

My research grads and undergrads are at the heart of what we do. So the answer to this question is: they get involved in every aspect of my research work.


Contact info of Prof. Arturo Hernández



Hector Mendez-Colberg selected 2013 NASA Student Ambassador


Hector Mendez

Congratulations to the graduate student Hector Mendez-Colberg for being selected as 2013 NASA Student Ambassador Virtual Community. Becoming a NASA Student Ambassador is an honor bestowed upon top interns that have participated in NASA Projects and have a broad understanding of the NASA mission. As an ambassador Hector will represent our graduate Chemical Engineering program in selected NASA activities. 

Graduate Research Symposium Fall 2012

Graduate School

Conducting excellent research is a serious business at the UPRM Department of Chemical Engineering. A clear evidence of the diverse participation in research at our department was demonstrated at our Graduate Research Symposium. This event was held last Friday, November 30th, 2012 at Celis 116.  More than 50 graduate students and professors attended this event organized by Prof. Ubaldo M. Córdova as part of the graduate seminar course. The symposium offered 8 talks and a poster session, all by graduate students. It was also an opportunity for first year students to learn more about research projects from other groups and colleagues. 
As part of our efforts to improve communication skills in research among graduate researchers, top 3 posters and oral presentations was selected based on evaluation from professors and students.
Poster Competition
First Place: Sonia Avilés
Second Place: Miguel Florían
Third Place: David Mota
Oral Presentation Competition
First Place: Karen González
Second Place: Héctor Méndez
Third Place: Angelica Román
ChE faculty would like to congratulate the winners and encourages all our students to continue working hard in pursuing a career of excellence in chemical engineering research.
Sonia Aviles won first place in poster competition.
Noelia Lasanta presenting her work.
Graduate students at the poster session
Efrain Aymat presenting his poster.

Teaching teachers basic principles in colloidal physics

Reprint from UCF Research Group Website

This past Saturday, November 10th, 2012, Prof. Córdova-Figueroa, Christian Santoni, Efrain Aymat and Nakaira Ramirez held a workshop to local teachers on Brownian Motion and Diffusion at the Science on Wheels Education Center at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez.  After a 30 min talk on the history and physics of random motion, teachers constructed a model to illustrate to high school students the basic principles of Brownian motion and its importance in soft matter.  Also, teachers received a copy of educational modules and other documentation to help them organize their courses with expected standards. This workshop was sponsored by NSF.  The UCF Research Group would like to thank Samirah Mercado, Prof. Nelson Cardona and Prof. Juan Lopez-Garriga for their support.