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Science-based nonprofit funds search for chemical engineering professor for Homeland Security


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Tom Spicer 3

Battelle, a nonprofit science organization in Columbus, Ohio, has awarded Tom Spicer III, Professor of Chemical Engineering, a research fellowship to support the Science Branch’s Chemical Safety Analysis Center and technologies from the Department of Homeland Security.

Spicer is a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Ralph E. Martin whose research interests include examining the hazards of airborne contaminants and fire and explosion phenomena. The funding he received is for hazard and risk analysis of chemical and material threats. Battelle’s funding is for five years and has a contractual cap amount of just under $1.5 million.

This funding will allow Spicer to continue to develop cutting-edge technology to assess the consequences of potential toxic or flammable cloud releases. His research team will examine how much ammonia would be removed from a toxic cloud by environmental materials. This project is made possible by the unique experimental capabilities of the Controlled Environment Reactivity Testing Facility housed and maintained at the U of A Engineering Research Center by the Chemical Hazard Research Center and the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering.

This work builds on previous studies conducted at the test facility, which found that current assessment practices could significant overestimation of chlorine removal in case of accidental release. Wind tunnel experiments were used to physically model chlorine cloud releases and assess reactivity as part of the Jack Rabbit II Field Trials.

Founded in 1929, Battle serves national security, health and life sciences; energy; and environmental industries. Battelle is the largest independent, not-for-profit research and development institute in the world.

The Chemical Safety Analysis Center was established by the Department of Homeland Security identify and assess chemical threats and vulnerabilities in the United States and develop the best responses to potential chemical risks. The center conducted the aforementioned Jack Rabbit Project.

Spicer earned his Ph.D. in engineering from the U of A in 1985. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees in chemical engineering from the university in 1981 and 1983, respectively. Spicer is the director of the Chemical Hazards Research Center. The facility includes several wind tunnels and wind tunnels, including a very low speed wind tunnel.

About the Department of Chemical Engineering: Chemical engineering has been part of the curriculum at the University of Arkansas since 1903. Today, the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering has an enrollment of over 300 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs and is home to five endowed chairs and eight endowed chairs to support its faculty. Faculty expertise includes cell engineering, chemical process safety, advanced materials, and membrane separations. A wide range of basic and applied research is carried out in the fields of energy, health, sustainability and computational chemical engineering. The department also houses the Chemical Hazards Research Center and is one of three national sites for membrane science, engineering and technology. (MAST) Center. The Department of Chemical Engineering is named after alumnus Ralph E. Martin (BSCh.E.’58, MSCh.E.’60) in recognition of his 2005 endowment gift.