Prof. Rakesh Agrawal

Prof. Rakesh Agrawal is the Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at Purdue University. He was conferred with the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur for his outstanding contributions to research and development in Chemical Engineering.

Prof. Agrawal earned his Bachelor’s degree from IIT Kanpur in Chemical Engineering in 1975 following which he did his Master’s from the University of Delaware in 1977 and a Doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980.

Profile: Prof. Agrawal has worked at Air Products and Chemicals Inc. where he rose to its highest technical position of an ‘Air Products Fellow’. He is an inventor of 118 U.S. patents and his ideas have been applied in over 100 plants with total expenditures in multibillion dollars. He invented several novel gas separation and liquefaction processes that have been used to establish the world’s largest natural gas liquefaction plant, ultra-high purity gases for the electronic industry and several highly energy efficient gas liquefaction plants. His technical contributions towards improving the energy efficiency of separation plants producing industrial gases such as O2 and N2 from air, and in the general area of gas liquefaction and separation, has led to 116 US patents and 500 international patents along with several peer-reviewed publications.

At Purdue, Prof. Agrawal’s current research initiatives are in the area of renewable energy, including developing low-cost methods for synthesizing solar cells based on Nanotechnology, efficient conversion to biomass to liquid fuel for transportation and maximizing liquid fuel from a given quantity of biomass. He is also engaged in an energy systems analysis initiative to explore the role of biofuels vis-a-vis other solar energy derived alternatives to propel a future transport sector. That work has evolved with Professor Agrawal becoming the principal investigator in the NSF sponsored Solar Economy IGERT involving researchers at Purdue University, University of Delaware, UTEP, and HZB.

Prof. Agrawal’s current interest and passion is in energy production issues especially from renewable sources such as solar. The thrust of research is to fabricate low-cost solar cells based on nanotechnology. His research interests also include basic and applied research in process development, gas liquefaction processes, cryogenics, and thermodynamics.

Awards and Honors

  • Morrill Award, Purdue University, 2014.

  • Fellow, National Academy of Inventors, 2014.

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation from the President of the United States of America, 2011.

  • Foreign Fellow, Indian National Academy of Engineering, 2011.

  • AIChE Founders Award, 2011.

  • Chemical Weekly’s Padmashri Dr. G. P. Kane CHEMCON Distinguished Speaker Award, IIChE, 2007.

  • Industrial Research Institute (IRI) Achievement Award, 2007.

  • J&E Hall Gold Medal, Institute of Refrigeration, UK, 2004..

  • Diamond Award for Inventor on One Hundred United States Patents, Air Products and Chemicals, 2001.

  • Extraordinary Quality Award from Air Products and chemicals, 1992.

  • Youngest Ever Recipient of the Air Products’ Prestigious Chairman’s Award, 1992.

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