Welcome to ChEGSA @ VT

Photos of the ChEGSA Symposium

Announcing the

9th., Annual ChEGSA Symposium

on April 13, 2017 at the Assembly Hall at the Skelton Center of the Virginia Tech Inn.

The Virginia Tech chapter of ChEGSA will be hosting the 9 th., Annual Chemical Engineering Research Symposium on April 13, 2017 at the Virginia Tech Inn.

This annual event showcases research being done by graduate students in the Chemical Engineering department in the form of both oral and poster presentations.

The Keynote Speaker will be Professor Emily Cranston.

Transforming Nanocellulose into Sustainable Products through Surface Engineering

Emily Cranston, PhD

Associate Professor
Chemical Engineering
McMaster University


By learning from nature and using bio-based nanoparticles we can engineer sustainable high-performance materials with improved functionality. Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) are entering the marketplace as new ingredients for formulated chemical products. As “green” and potentially food-grade additives, there is widespread interest in CNCs particularly as emulsifiers, rheological modifiers, and reinforcing agents. We believe that the surface chemistry of CNCs must be well understood and controlled in order to elucidate the interactions, stability and compatibility of CNCs with liquids, polymers and small molecules.

I will present recent characterization of CNCs with polymers and surfactants and show applications in (1) wet and dry oil/water emulsions and emulsion polymerization; (2) injectable hydrogels with controlled crosslinking and nanoparticle alignment; and (3) aqueous foams, CNC-templated polymer foams and aerogel materials. This new understanding can be used to extend food/cosmetic products, encapsulation technologies, latex paints/adhesives, and tissue engineering scaffolds. Furthermore, the dried CNC aerogel materials offer a flexible 3D porous structure to support other functional nanomaterials (carbon nanotubes, capacitive particles and polymers, metal organic frameworks, etc.) which we have demonstrated as energy storage and water purification devices.

In many of these examples, the combination of CNCs with adsorbing polymers (or surfactants, or other nanomaterials) has shown synergistic effects and materials that are more stable, stronger and/or require only small amounts of CNCs to greatly impact properties. This work promises new, low-cost, non-toxic CNC-based materials and highlights not only the prospect of fabricating tailored products but also the complexities and challenges of including CNCs in multi-component formulations.