KU School of Engineering

Mark B. Shiflett is a Distinguished Foundation Professor in the School of Engineering at the University of Kansas. Professor Shiflett has a joint appointment in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis. Professor Shiflett recently joined the University of Kansas as the final Foundation Professor in August 2016.

The Shiflett Research Group is sponsored and housed within the University of Kansas School of Engineering within the department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.

About Us

Our mission is to educate students how to invent new products and develop new processes which are energy-efficient, sustainable, economical and safe for humans and the environment.

Novel Processes

Our group has the expertise and the equipment to perform a variety of separations and reaction chemistries.  We have a state-of-the-art gravimetric microbalance laboratory which provides us with the unique capability to study the sorption and diffusion of gases and vapors into liquids and solids over a broad range of temperature (-196 °C to 1000 °C) and pressure (vacuum to 170 bar).  We have a pressure-swing adsorption system with 4 beds which can operate at pressures up to 70 bar.  We have a suite of analytical equipment including gas and ion chromatographs, liquid chromatographs and mass spectrometers which can be combined with batch, semi-batch and continuous flow reactors for studying a variety of chemistries.  We have membrane modules for measuring pure gas permeance and the selectivity of mixed gas systems.

Advanced Materials

Our laboratory specializes in the synthesis, characterization and application of advanced materials.  We have an extensive library of over 3000 materials composed of zeolites, ionic liquids, carbons and ion-exchange resins.  These materials are being evaluated for a variety of applications including gas and liquid separations, catalysis, desalination and water purification, interactions with biological systems and extraction of biobased chemicals from renewable feedstocks.   Our goal is to develop new materials with unique properties which can solve relevant problems for our society.

Industrial Research

We actively seek out and partner with chemical companies to develop new commercial products and processes.   Companies can sponsor proprietary projects and take advantage of KU’s world-class research facilities.  We offer a variety of project options.  Discovery projects are short-term (3 to 6 month) proof-of-concept programs.  Innovation projects are typically a year to multi-year programs which involve graduate students and post-graduate researchers.  We offer a service laboratory which is available for sample analysis.  Companies can save time and money by contracting measurements and projects with our laboratory.  We understand that Intellectual Property (IP) issues are often a barrier to industry-academia collaborations; therefore, we work with the University of Kansas Innovation and Collaboration team to create unique IP arrangements that benefit both the sponsor and KU.  If you are interested in sponsoring a project or contract testing services, please contact Dr. Mark B. Shiflett.

Meet Our Group

Post Doctoral Researchers

William J.R. Gilbert, ph.D.

William (Bill) Gilbert is currently a post-doctoral research assistant in Mark Shiflett’s laboratory. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in 2016. While pursuing a Ph.D., Bill received the Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellowship and was a School of Engineering Graduate Ambassador. His graduate research focused on the development of a novel enzymatic method for degrading polyacrylamide polymer used in slickwater fracturing. Bill received a B.S. in environmental science from Haskell Indian Nations University and was named the American Indian Higher Education Consortium Student of the Year and the Midwestern Collegiate Athletic Conference Scholar Athlete of the Year. His collegiate work was interrupted in from 2003-2005 when he was deployed to Tikrit, Iraq, through the U.S. Army Reserve. Bill also participated in the Haskell/KU Bridge program and Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program where he conducted cardiopulmonary physiology and polymer thermodynamics research.

dave-minnickDavid L. Minnick, ph.d.

Dave Minnick conducted his graduate work at the University of Kansas in the department of chemical and petroleum engineering from 2011-2016 as a Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellow. The core of Minnick’s doctoral research was dedicated to leveraging ionic liquid solvent technology for the development of improved cellulosic biomass processing routes. After completing his Ph.D. with honors in 2016, Minnick was hired as a short-term post-doctoral research associate to investigate a proprietary chemical reaction for the Chevron Phillips Chemical Company as part of a joint project between the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis and Chevron Phillips. Today, Minnick looks forward to continuing industrial-academic collaborative research efforts as a post-doctoral research associate in Mark B. Shiflett’s laboratory.

Graduate Students

alejandra_0Alejandra Rocha

Alejandra received her chemical engineering bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Kansas in 2014. After graduating, she worked in the process engineering industry running dynamic state simulations. After two years of industry experience, Alejandra returned to KU to pursue her Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering. She is currently investigating fluorocarbons as clathrate formers for an economic alternative to water desalination. Her career interests involve the design and development of alternative energy.

tugba-turnaoglu_2Tugba Turnaoglu

Tugba received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering at Ankara University in Turkey and her master’s degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. She has been a PhD student at KU since Spring 2014. During the first three years of her degree, she worked on low salinity waterflooding on carbonate reservoirs. She is currently working on ammonia absorption in ionic liquids. Her current research interests are ionic liquids, heating cooling cycles, vapor liquid equilibria, zeolites, nanofluids, surfactants and surface phenomena. As she is very enthusiastic about research, she hopes to pursue a career in research, be it in industry or academia. She also enjoy teaching and spreading scientific knowledge.

Senior Scientists

David R. Corbin, Ph.D.

Dr. Corbin is an adjunct senior research scientist with 32 years of industrial research experience. He has issued 62 US patents and has published more than 130 publications, in addition to co-editing two books on porous materials. His research interests include applications of inorganic materials to industrial problems, zeolites, separations, and metal oxides.

Mark A. Harmer, Ph.D.

Dr. Harmer is currently working at Sustainable Chemistry Consulting in Landenberg, PA. He has 32 years of industrial experience with several commercial products, 73 patents, and 81 publications. He is also a member of the board J. Green Chemistry, and is a NSF and DOE grant reviewer and Strategy Consultant. He is primarily interested in acid catalysis, ionic liquid applications, and biobased adhesives.

Scott C. Jackson, Ph.D.

Dr. Jackson is an adjunct senior research scientist at KU and an adjunct professor at Villanova University. Previously, he was a DuPont Senior Technical Fellow with 33 years of industrial research experience. In addition to his 41 US patents and 28 publications and presentations, he is also a recipient of the Engineering Excellence Award for the development of Extractive Distillation technology. His primary area of research interest includes fluid phase thermodynamics of biphasic systems and scale ups of liquid-liquid extraction systems.

Undergraduate Students

Katie Bauguess

Katie is currently a junior pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering. In our lab, she is working on a zeolite project with Professor Mark Shiflett, Dr. Bill Gilbert, Dr. David Corbin and Professor Cory Berkland. She is researching several zeolite structures and their ability to bind with metals with a specific focus on iron.

Yadira Chavez-Arambula

Yadira is currently a senior pursuing a degree in Petroleum Engineering with a Geology minor. She is contributing to the Shiflett lab by setting up and calibrating gas chromatographs with flame ionization (FID) and thermal conductivity (TCD) detectors. Additionally, Yadira is creating a design concept with KU logos and inspiring quotes to foster a culture of creativity and energy within the lab.

Brooks Danahy

Brooks is currently a junior studying chemical engineering at KU. In the Shiflett research group he is assisting Dr. David Minnick with a project investigating gas sorption in ionic liquids. In his free time, Brooks also enjoys being a coordinator for Camp Kesem, a free summer camp for children affected by parental cancer.

Elizabeth Hyde

Elizabeth is a sophomore pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering with a focus in environmental engineering. She is currently working on the development of the Shiflett Research website and assisting Alejandra Rocha with a techno-economic evaluation of a process of desalination using clathrate hydrates. In her free time, she enjoys being an active member of Theta Tau, KU’s professional engineering fraternity.

Maddie Lyda

Maddie is a junior studying Chemical Engineering with a focus in biomedical engineering. In the lab, she is currently working on studying gas chromatography and various separation techniques. In her free time, she enjoys being involved in the Society of Women Engineers and the director of EXPO committee and community service for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Sally Ritchie

Sally Ritchie is a junior studying chemical engineering here at KU. In Dr. Shiflett’s lab, she works on researching solubility of ammonia in ionic liquids with Tugba Turnaoglu, which has applications in absorption refrigeration cycles.

Michael Shao

Michael is a sophomore studying chemical engineering and economics. In Dr. Shiflett’s lab, he works with Alejandra Rocha studying desalination using clathrate hydrates and utilizes ASPEN modeling for reverse osmosis. In his free time, Michael serves as an Engineering Senator for Student Senate, a Music Mentors Coordinator for the Center for Community Outreach, and a member of the Student Senate Finance Committee. 

Simon Velasquez Morales

Simon is currently a senior in chemical engineering at KU. He is finishing his undergraduate program this summer, and will be returning to KU for his Ph.D program in chemical and petroleum engineering. In his free time, he enjoyed partaking in the Chem-E-Car competition at the University of Tulsa where the team won for most creative design.

News & Events

Presence Abroad!

Dr. Mark Shiflett was invited to present a keynote lecture at the European Conference on Thermophysical Properties in Graz, Austria. He recently traveled to Graz, and presented his a talk “Ionic Liquids – Phase Behavior to Applications” on the morning of Tuesday September 5th.

Later that week, Dr. Shiflett also had the opportunity to visit the Hiden Isochema Ltd. headquarters in Warrington, UK to celebrate 15 years of successful collaboration. Dr. Mark Roper, Director of Sales and Marketing at Hiden, met with Dr. Shiflett and provided a tour of Hiden’s advanced instrumentation.

-Updated 09/16/17

Future Conferences

We are excited to have our graduate students and postdoctoral researchers presenting at two upcoming conferences. Tugba, Alejandra, Bill, and Dave will be presenting posters at the upcoming 2017 ACS Midwest Regional Meeting – Catalysis Symposium at KU on October 19th, and oral presentations at the 2017 AIChE Annual Meeting in Minneapolis on October 29th – November 2nd. Be sure to stop by if you are attending the conferences!

Details below:

2017 ACS Midwest Regional Meeting
Tugba Turnaoglu:
Vapor-Liquid Equilibria:Ammonia and 1-hexyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide

Alejandra Rocha:
Clathrate Hydrate Formation Using Fluorocarbons

Bill Gilbert:
Safety Considerations when Designing a New Chemical Engineering Research Laboratory

Dave Minnick:
Solubility of vinyl fluoride in aqueous lithium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide solutions

2017 AIChE Annual Meeting (at the Minneapolis Convention Center)
Tugba Turnaoglu:
-Ammonia Absorption in Ionic Liquids
Wednesday November 1st, 9:42 AM – 9:59 AM, Room 103B

Alejandra Rocha:
-Clathrate Hydrate Formation Using Fluorocarbons
Tuesday October 31st, 8:51 AM – 9:08 AM, Room L100I

-Water Sorption in Ionic Liquids Characterized Using a Dynamic Vapor Sorption Analyzer (IGASorp) and High Pressure X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (APXPS)
Thursday, November 2nd, 4:00 PM – 04:15 PM, Room M100B

Bill Gilbert:

-Safety Considerations When Designing a New Chemical Engineering Research Laboratory
Monday October 30th, 1:42 PM – 2:00 PM, Room 205C

-Desorption of Gases from Ionic Liquids Using an Applied Electric Field
Tuesday October 31st, 12:30 PM – 12:52 PM, Room 101C

Dave Minnick:

-Measurement and Modeling of Vinyl Fluoride Solubility in Aqueous Lithium Bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)Imide Solutions
Monday October 30th, 12:50 PM – 01:10 PM, Room M100C

-Phase Behavior of Compressed Gases in Ionic Liquids at the Liquid-Solid Transition Point
Tuesday October 31st, 04:12 PM – 04:31 PM, Room L100J

Shiflett Lab Group Hosts Open House

Shiflett lab group hosted an open lab afternoon on April 28. The event featured undergraduate research presentations on their different projects from this semester. Dr. Shiflett and our post doctorate researchers also gave visitors tours of the lab space.

New Kinetics Experiment for Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Laboratory

Dr. David Griffin, Dr. Bill Gilbert and Prof. Mark B. Shiflett

A new kinetics experiment shown in Figure 1 was completed and added to the undergraduate chemical engineering teaching laboratory for the Chemical Engineering Laboratory I, C&PE 616.  Students can measure the kinetic orders and activation energy for the iodination of acetone reaction (CH3COCH3  + I2 → CH3COCH2I +  HI) using HCl as a catalyst.

The reaction is a color change reaction so it starts as a colored solution when iodine is added (I2 is red/brown in color) and goes clear as the product iodoacetone is formed (iodoacetone is clear). The experimental setup consists of a 1 liter stirred tank reactor with a cooling/heating jacket controlled with a Peltier temperature bath.  A pump circulates a sample of the reactor fluid through a flow cell in a spectrometer for instantaneous analysis of the iodine concentration as a function of time.  The temperature and absorbance are recorded using a LabView® data acquisition program on a laptop computer.  The waste can be drained to waste containers beneath the reactor and the system is mounted on a moveable rack which allows the experiment to be portable.  The setup is identical on both sides of the rack so that students can work in groups of two to run both reactors simultaneously.  The spectrometer measures the absorbance of iodine at a wavelength of 510 nm.  Students use both a linear regression (Initial Rates Method) and a non-linear regression to analyze the kinetics data to determine the orders of reaction and the activation energy.  In addition to the experiments, students model the reaction using Aspen Plus using both batch (RBATCH) and continuous (RCSTR) reactor models. The fact that the experiment is portable allows the equipment to be wheeled into the classroom for demonstration during lectures.  Students taking Chemical Kinetics C&PE 524 will learn how the experiment works, the methods for data analysis and be assigned a homework set based on actually experimental data being measured by the Senior class.  This will connect the lab course with the kinetics course and familiarize the Juniors in C&PE 524 with the kinetics experiment they will do the following semester in the undergraduate laboratory course C&PE 616.  In addition, future experiments can be conducted with other reactants such as bromine and the effect of different catalysts can be studied.

A new thermodynamics experiment is planned for construction during the summer of 2017 and ready for use in C&PE 616 by the Fall semester.  The intent is by the Fall of 2018, that three new experiments focused on kinetics (complete), thermodynamics and fluid mechanics will be ready which connect the theory taught in the core courses with the laboratory course.  The experiments will be portable and allow instructors to describe the experiments in the classroom and build homework sets based on data measured by students to familiarize Juniors with the Senior laboratory equipment and analysis methods.