Research Council feted NJIT chemical engineering professor

The Research and Development Council of New Jersey presented one of its highest awards last night to Kamalesh K. Sirkar, PhD, distinguished chemical engineering professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Sirkar, an internationally regarded expert in the field of membrane separation technologies, holds a total of 22 patents; he received the honor for his patent to remove volatile organic pollutants from waste gas streams produced from manufacturing processes before the toxic pollutants are released to the atmosphere. Sirkar resides with his family in Bridgewater.

The Council also honored Jyh-Yao Raphael Li, PhD, of Parsippany, a postdoctoral fellow who worked alongside Sirkar and is a co-inventor of the patent.

A more detailed look at the invention shows that the two chemical engineers successfully developed a method and apparatus for removing potentially toxic organic compounds from a multicomponent gas and vapor mixture. Their invention can be used by many industries from printing plants to wastewater facilities.

Using Sirkar and Li's method, some 98 percent of any volatile organic pollutant can be recovered and the treated gas safely released. The method employs an air/waste gas stream flowing through the bores of hollow fibers as fine as human hair. At the same time, a vacuum pulls the pollutants out through the membrane coating on the outside surface of the hollow fibers.

Sirkar, who is the Foundation Professor for Membrane Separations and directs NJIT's Center for Membrane Technologies, is now working on a water purification process and a more efficient, faster and less costly desalination process. He has studied industrial uses of water and how industries might recycle wastewater.

Sirkar was recently awarded the Institute Award for Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He is also the recipient of the Themis Medicare Chemcon Distinguished Speaker Award, in India sponsored by the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers. The same organization inducted him as an honorary Fellow.

Sirkar is a co-editor of the widely used Membrane Handbook (Chapman and Hall Publishers, NY,1992; Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, 2001). He has authored 186 publications; his research has most recently been published in: Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research; Journal of Membrane Science; Chemical Engineering Science; Biotechnology Progress; Journal of American Chemical Society; Polymer; and Journal of Controlled Release.

Sirkar graduated with a bachelor's degree with honors in 1963 from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. He received his master's degree in 1966 and his PhD in 1969 from the University of Illinois, Urbana. NJIT, New Jersey's science and technology university, enrolls more than 8,000 students in bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 92 degree programs offered by six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. NJIT is renowned for expertise in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and eLearning. In 2006, Princeton Review named NJIT among the nation's top 25 campuses for technology and top 150 for best value. U.S. News & World Report's 2007 Annual Guide to America's Best Colleges ranked NJIT in the top tier of national research universities

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