Falling into industrial outreach

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18 November 2013

This has been a productive and busy autumn for AIP’s Industrial Outreach program, starting with The Society of Rheology/AIP Industrial Mixer, on the heels of the AVS/AIP Industrial Physics Forum (IPF), and concluding with a planning workshop for IPF Brazil (slated for September 2014).

The Society of Rheology panel, “Rheology in the Real World,” took place on October 14 in Montreal as part of The SOR’s 85th Annual Meeting. Four panelists working on industrial applications of rheology made presentations, followed by a networking mixer. The event was heavily marketed toward SOR student attendees. SOR has about 1,600 members, and 400 attended this year’s annual meeting. The industrial mixer drew more than 100 people, so our organizing committee and the SOR leadership feel that we struck a resonant chord with the meeting attendees.

 Gerry Fuller, Jason Maxey, Rick Watkins, Joao Maia, Maryam Sepehr and Anne Grillet. The panelists represented a diverse range of companies for whom rheology plays a critical role in product development, manufacturing, or processes. For example, Rick Watkins talked about Nike’s R&D efforts to develop new materials for athletic shoes that not only meet athlete-tested high-performance standards, but also conform to evolving environmental considerations. He gave the example of his group’s assignment to replace sulfur hexafluoride as the “air” in Nike Air products. Sulfur hexafluoride, as it turns out, is 34,000 times more active as a greenhouse gas compared to CO2. After more than a year of intensive R&D to develop a suitable material and process while considering economically viable manufacturing strategies, they finally settled on using actual air, that is, gaseous oxygen and nitrogen.

Chevron’s Maryam Sepehr applies rheology to developing lubricating oils that maintain their optimal performance characteristics over a broad range of sheer rates (think of engine rpm and pistons moving up and down very fast) and the resultant increasing operating temperatures. Automotive engine life depends on lubricants that work well all the way from a cold January start in Minneapolis, to an 80 mph dash across the hot Mohave dessert in the middle of August.

Jason Maxey of Halliburton is in charge of developing a broad range of complex fluids used in the oil and gas industry. His primary focus is developing fluids for use in fracturing hydrocarbon-bearing rock to extract oil or gas. Oil and gas companies use a variety of complex fluids with properties engineered to crack the rock and prop the fractures, for example.

Finally, Joao Maia of Case Western’s Center for Advanced Polymer Processing talked about the support his university laboratory provides industrial partners and customers who manufacture polymer-based products such as rubber, paint, consumer product, and lubricant companies. Maia and his group develop new polymer materials and instruments to understand their behavior in extrusion-based processes, particularly, forming and cooling, and how material structures form under flow.

The SOR industrial session provided attendees with a broadened perspective of how the fascinating, multidisciplinary field of rheology is critical for industries that rely on engineered complex materials that flow, either in their manufacture, application, or both. AIP is grateful to Gerald Fuller of Stanford University and Anne Grillet of Sandia National Laboratory for organizing and hosting the 2013 SOR/AIP Industrial Mixer.

Later in October, AIP partnered with AVS as part of the AVS 60th Anniversary Symposium, cosponsoring an IPF entitled, “Manufacturing Challenges in Emerging Technologies.” This series of invited talks, October 28-29, featured 15 speakers from industry who discussed their approaches to a range of leading-edge manufacturing challenges, primarily around materials science, devices, and the life sciences.

AVS banner

Given the enthusiastic turn out for the talks (standing room only at times), the AVS members seemed to appreciate the breadth and quality of the program. To cite a few examples, George Crabtree of Argonne National Laboratory reviewed the emerging field of mesoscale science, with its constructivist approach to developing new materials and understanding their behaviors. Amy Prieto of Colorado State and Prieto Battery, Inc. (the company she founded) addressed “Manufacturing a Three-Dimensional Rechargeable Solid-State Battery.” She detailed the environmental, economic, and materials boundary conditions within which she and her group develop and characterize novel batteries that could one day meet the growing need for high-power-density/high-energy-density batteries for energy storage. Elizabeth Carr’s talk described Agilent Technologies’ efforts in microfluidics-based devices for use in chemical analysis. Her group’s high-pressure microfluidic chips, on a single device, combine the complete process of integrated liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry, from sample preparation, to separation, to measurement. These new devices will make the analysis of complex mixtures of chemicals much faster and accurate for Agilent’s customers, in industries ranging from pharmaceutical and food manufacture, to forensics and drug testing of athletes.

This IPF would not have been possible without leadership from Rudy Ludeke, long-time AVS leader and member of the AIP Executive Committee, and his program planning committee. For more information, see the program on the AIP website.

Outreach groupThe final big Industrial Outreach event this fall was the planning workshop, November 7-9, for the upcoming IPF in Brazil, which will be organized jointly with the International Centre for Theoretical Physics and our host, the University of Campinas. IPF Brazil will be held in late September 2014. Members of the IPF Brazil program planning committee came to College Park for almost two days of intensive panel discussions and strategic thinking about the goals, structure, audience, and expected outcomes for IPF Brazil. Planning will continue over the next several months, and we expect a rich five-day program that will combine technical talks focused on industrial challenges, education and policy panel discussions, tours of local labs and industrial facilities, and facilitated breakout groups.

The above three events are the culmination of a busy year for AIP Industrial Outreach, which started in March with the APS Forum on /AIP Industrial Physics Forum and the Industrial Geophysics session at the AGU Meeting of the Americas in May. In all, AIP has partnered with APS, AVS, AGU, and SOR in planning industrial events this year, and we look forward to another great year in 2014.