Baldea Awarded 2011 Model-Based Innovation Prize

Assistant Professor Michael Baldea, The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Chemical EngineeringAssistant Professor Michael Baldea was presented the 2011 Model-Based Innovation Prize from Process Systems Enterprise (PSE) for the paper titled “Optimizing the Catalyst Distribution for Counter-current Methane Steam Reforming in Plate Reactors” at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual meeting in Minneapolis, MN in October.

Baldea co-authored the paper with Dr. Monica Zanfir from the Praxair Technology Center and Professor Prodromos Daoutidis from the University of Minnesota. The award recognizes the use of PSE’s gPROMS modeling and optimization software in an innovative way or in a novel area of application or technology.

Their paper considers microscale autothermal reactors, which remain one of the most promising technologies for efficient hydrogen generation. “By developing a rigorous optimization method for determining the optimal catalyst distribution and reactor geometry, we have solved a longstanding conundrum in the design of such reactors,” Baldea said.  “We now have a way to maximize reactor conversion while preserving reactor integrity and operational safety. Furthermore, the optimization algorithms developed in the paper are completely general and will be of great value to other researchers working on the simulation, design and optimization of complex multi-scale engineered systems.”

Baldea received his diploma (2000) and M.Sc. degree (2001) in chemical engineering from Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania and obtained a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 2006.

Prior to joining the department, he held industrial research positions with Praxair Technology Center in Tonawanda, NY and GE Global Research in Niskayuna, NY. His research interests include the dynamics, optimization and control of multi-scale systems and the optimal design and control of integrated energy generation, areas in which he has co-authored one book, two book chapters and over 60 peer-reviewed articles and presentations. He holds one U.S. patent.




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