Seminar: “Powering the Circular Economy for Fresh Produce: Engineering at Apeel Sciences” by Richard Pattison

Today, 40% of the food grown goes to waste. Apeel Sciences seeks the advice of billions of years of evolution on Earth to solve this problem. They have developed processes to extract, repurpose, and apply the compounds which plants have evolved to construct barriers that slow the rate of water loss and oxidation. When applied to the surface of fresh fruits and vegetables, the result is a microscopic layer that results in a 2X or more extension in the edible shelf-life, thereby dramatically reducing waste throughout the supply chain. Over the past year, Apeel has partnered with some of the biggest global food producers and retailers, and proven commercial viability at industrial scales. The next phase of the business is expansion into a global enterprise.

This seminar will present some of the technical challenges Apeel has tackled up to now, and highlight some of the future technical opportunities and challenges facing them in the near and distant future. Perspective will be provided about the problems which chemical engineers are well-suited to tackle in the agricultural space, and what technical skills will prove most necessary.


Richard PattisonDuring his undergraduate studies at Carnegie Mellon, Richard Pattison worked in Prof. Ignacio Grossmann’s group and became interested in mathematical modeling and optimization. He pursued these research interests and completed his PhD in Prof. Michael Baldea’s group at UT Austin. His research focus was on large-scale process flowsheet optimization whereby they developed a systematic method of dynamically reformulating the design equations to efficiently solve the nonlinear system of equations describing the flowsheet. This simplified gradient calculations required for efficient optimization iterations, and enabled modeling and optimization of processes with significantly more complex unit operation models.

After defending, Pattison moved to Santa Barbara, California, to work with Apeel Sciences, where his initial role was focused on scale up of various processes. Recently, he transitioned into the modeling and data science group, where he develop both first principles and machine learning models to solve technical and business problems.

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