Department of Chemical Engineering

Wi(PR)2EM Seminar: Hydrogen-Transfer Catalysis in Biomass Conversion: From Isomerizations to Hydrogenations

Wisconsin - Puerto Rico Partnership for Research and Education in Materials Seminar Series

Hydrogen-Transfer Catalysis in Biomass Conversion:  From Isomerizations to Hydrogenations

Ive Hermans, PhD

University of Wisconsin–Madison

Professor of Chemistry and Chemical and Biological Engineering

Thursday, August 28, 2014

10:30AM Nursing Amphitheater


Catalytic hydrogen-transfer reactions are an indispensable type of transformations in biomass upgrading. In the first part of my presentation, Lewis-acid catalyzed isomerization of hexose sugars over Sn-Beta zeolite will be discussed using various spectroscopic and kinetic methods. Over the last years, a lot of academic effort has been made in understanding this reaction, since it is a key step in the catalytic upgrading of glucose towards numerous valuable chemical products. In the second part I will address the reductive upgrading of furfural-derivatives using transfer hydrogenation/hydrogenolysis under continuous flow conditions. For both case studies, emphasis will be put on chemical kinetics as a tool to understand the reaction mechanisms and to optimize the reaction engineering.

Biographical sketch:

After receiving his M.Sc. in physical chemistry from K.U.Leuven in Belgium (2002), Ive Hermans obtained a Ph.D. under the supervision of Profs. Pierre Jacobs and Jozef Peeters (2006). In addition to his scientific education, Ive Hermans also holds a postgraduate degree in Business Administration from the Leuven School of Business and Economics (K.U.Leuven, 2006). After a post-doc on in situ spectroscopy with Prof. Alfons Baiker, Ive Hermans became assistant professor for heterogeneous catalysis at ETH Zurich (2008). In 2009 he received the ExxonMobil Chemical European Science and Engineering Award. Since January 2014 he is an Associate Professor at UW-Madison, holding a dual appointment in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Programas de Mentoría Ejemplar

La Oficina de Estudios Graduados se complace en informar que los departamentos de Química e Ingeniería Química del Recinto Universitario de Mayagüez han sido reconocidos como "Programs of Exemplary Mentoring (PEM)" por la Fundación Alfred P. Sloan, luego de una competencia a nivel nacional organizada por esta Fundación. Los programas graduados de estos departamentos recibirán $60,000 durante los próximos 3 años para el reclutamiento de estudiantes para estos programas, con especial atención a actividades que los motiven a continuar estudios doctorales. Esta propuesta fue desarrollada por los Dres. María M. Martínez Iñesta y Rodolfo J. Romañach. Integran el comité coordinador el Director de Estudios Graduados, Dr. Raúl E. Macchiavelli, los Decanos Asociados de Investigación de Artes y Ciencias e Ingeniería, Dres. Félix Fernández y Oscar Perales respectivamente, y los Dres. Ubaldo Córdova y Jorge Almodóvar, quienes actualmente están a cargo de las actividades de reclutamiento de estudiantes graduados para el Departamento de Ingeniería Química.

          Felicitamos a los Dres. Romañach y Martínez Iñesta por esta iniciativa.

The Coki Racing Team Wins Third Place in AIChE Chem-E-Car Competition

The Chem-E-Car Competition, hosted by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), requires students to design and construct a small-scale vehicle that operates by chemical means. The competition challenges students to create, innovate and explore new technologies that can serve as alternative sources of energy. During the competition, vehicles must travel a specific distance of 15 – 30 meters while carrying a load of 0 – 500 milliliters of water. Teams are told an hour before giving start to the competition the exact distance that the vehicle must travel and the specified cargo that it must carry. The vehicle that stops closest to the line is the winner of the competition. Teams compete at regional level, and the top places from each regional conference move on to compete at national level.


The 2014 AIChE Southern Regional Conference was held at the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 21 – 23. The Chem-E-Car Competition, held on the second day of the conference, included the participation of the UPRM team, the Coki Racing Team, who competed amongst 18 other universities from the United States. Their Chem-E-Car, the Coki GT-E, stopped at 0.83 meters from the line, awarding the team third place in the performance competition and a spot at the 2014 AIChE National Competition. The Coki Racing Team also won the Spirit of the Competition Award for their enthusiasm and charisma during the competition. 

ChE Seminar Series: "Clear Thinking Becomes Clear Writing" Rodolfo J. Romañach (UPRM)

Rodolfo J. Romañach, from the Department of Chemistry-UPRM will be offering a lecture titled "Clear Thinking Becomes Clear Writing


Date: April 24, 2014

Time: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Place: INQU 004 - Amphitheater



"Clear thinking becomes clear writing; one can’t exist without the other. It's impossible for a muddy thinker to write good English.”1  These words helped me realize that the problems that we see in scientific writing are not solely because English is our second language. Writing requires craftsmanship such as an adequate vocabulary, knowledge of how to use verbs, and the use of active or passive sentences. However, writing goes beyond the craft and requires a creative process. The creative process advances thinking. Thus, when a graduate student or professor decides to write later, unfortunately they are also postponing their thinking.


During the past few months, William Zinsser 's book; "On Writing Well", has helped me reflect about my past experiences in writing and coaching students in their writing. The book has helped me see what I have done correctly and my mistakes. I will describe Zinsser's approach and link it to my experiences in working with research proposals, theses, and research manuscripts.



Dr. Romañach is currently Professor of Chemistry at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez Campus. He worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 12 years before joining the Chemistry Department in 1999. His research has produced over 30 publications and involves near infrared and Raman spectroscopy, and multivariate methods to assure that Quality Assurance is not an additional cost of manufacturing, but a means for continuous improvement in manufacturing, and an element to increase manufacturing competitiveness.  He was awarded an NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) award to expand his research with the acquisition of a Near Infrared Chemical Imaging system. He has played a leading role in making the PAT and Quality by Design (QbD) known with 10 publications describing these initiatives and by organizing the IFPAC Summer Summit on PAT and Quality by Design for the past 9 years and through participation in a number of meetings and continuing education activities attended by industry personnel.   Dr. Romañach is also Adjunct Professor of Industrial and Physical Pharmacy at Purdue University, leads the Sensing project in the NSF Engineering Center for Structured Organic Particulate Systems (, is currently organizing the 2014 International Diffuse Reflectance Conference in Chambersburg, PA.