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Investigating Nanostructured Particles

Dr. Robert Pfeffer leads a team at the New Jersey Center for Engineered Particulates studying nanostructured particles.

New techniques for processing nanostructured powders are the research focus of Robert Pfeffer, distinguished professor of chemical engineering. Although the unique properties of nanostructured materials can greatly benefit many industries, such as, food, pharmaceutical, petroleum, chemical, agricultural and ceramics, little attention has been paid to flow around nanoparticles and flow in nanodomains. With funding from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Pfeffer's research team at the New Jersey Center for Engineered Particulates, together with researchers from the Illinois Institute of Technology, is seeking to solve the challenging problem of understanding the physics of fluidization and transport of nanoparticles. The goal is to be able to process nanoparticles to produce nanomixtures and nanocomposites with tailored properties.

The research, which is a combination of experiments, modeling and computer simulations, and the development of innovative applications, is expected to have a large impact on how nanostructured powder materials will be processed in the future. The team's preliminary research has already resulted in several unique processes by which nanopowders are uniformly fluidized as stable porous agglomerates with practically no elutriation and without the presence of cracks, channels or rat-holes, typically observed when fluidizing fine cohesive particles.  NJIT is currently in the process of filing for a patent for this novel technology.