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