Thatcher Root

Professor

3008 Engineering Hall
1415 Engineering Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Ph: (608) 262-8999
Fax: (608) 262-1267
thatcher@engr.wisc.edu


Profile Summary

Current projects all bring Green Chemistry interests to applications of catalysis, chemical kinetics, and reactor design to different fields

Biomass Conversion

A collaboration with Prof. Klingenberg and C. Tim Scott of the USDA Forest Products Lab addresses the initial, upstream steps of processes to convert biomass to fuel or chemicals.  Processing raw biomass in the form of corn stover, switchgrass, or other lignocellulosic materials begins with hydrothermal treatment or dilute acid hydrolysis in the NREL poster process, and continuous processes often encounter difficulties in sustaining flow of the input material without using large quantities of water.  Energy considerations require use of feedstocks with high solids content.  At levels of 10%-25% or more, these materials appear dry and are very non-ideal in flow, exhibiting yield-stress behavior.  We are studying the rheological properties of biomass and how they vary with solids content and processing history (time, temperature, and acid content) in the early stages of fractionating lignocellulosic materialis for later processing.  This project has developed several novel rheometer/reactors applicable to these unusual materials. 

Catalysts for Aerobic Partial Oxidations

 

Biorefineries

 

Energy Storage Strategies for Concentrating Solar Power Processes

One promising aspect of concentrating solar power (CSP) involves thermal energy storage for use of the solar energy to generate electricity at other peak demand times.  This project is part of a larger collaboration with Prof. Christos Maravelias and Solar Energy Lab (Mechanical Engineering) Profs. Sandy Klein and Franklin Miller investigating opportunities for improving efficiency and cost structure of CSP alternatives. 

Education

  • S.B. (Chemistry), S.B. (Chemical Engineering), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1979
  • Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1984
  • Postdoctoral Member of Technical Staff, AT&T Bell Laboratories (1984-86)

 

Research Interests

  • surface chemistry
  • catalysis
  • diffusion in porous media
  • solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Awards, Honors and Societies

  • NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award (1987)
  • Benjamin Smith Reynolds Award for Teaching Engineering Students (2010)
  • Fellow, UW Teaching Academy

Publications

  • “Rheology measurements of a biomass slurry:  an inter-laboratory study,” Jonathan J. Stickel, Jeffrey S. Knutsen, Matthew W. Liberatore, Wing Luu, Douglas W. Bousfield, Daniel J. Klingenberg, C. Tim Scott, Thatcher W. Root, Max Ehrhardt, Thomas O. Monz, Rheologica Acta 48 (2009) 369-373.
  • “Rheology of dilute acid hydrolyzed corn stover at high solids concentration,” M. R. Ehrhardt, T. O. Monz, T. W. Root, R. K. Connelly, C. T. Scott, and D. J. Klingenberg, Appl. Biochem. Biotech. 160 (2010) 1102-1115.
  • “Challenges of supported phosphate and carbonate salts as catalysts for biodiesel synthesis,” S. L. Britton, J. Q. Bond, and T. W. Root, Energy Fuels,24(7) (2010) 4095-4096.
  • “The Effect of High Intensity Mixing on the Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Concentrated Cellulose Fiber Suspensions,” J. R. Samaniuk, C. T. Scott, T. W. Root, and D. J. Klingenberg, Bioresource Technology102 (2011) 4489-4494.
  • “Production of biofuels from cellulose and corn stover using alkylphenol solvents,” D. M. Alonso, S. G. Wettstein, J. Q. Bond, T. W. Root, and J. A. Dumesic, ChemSusChem 4 (2011) 1078-1091.
  • “Rheology of Concentrated Biomass,” J. R. Samaniuk, J. Wang, T. W. Root, C. T. Scott and D. J. Klingenberg, Korea-Australia Rheology Journal23, 237–245 (2011).
  • “Rheological modification of corn stover biomass at high solids concentrations,” J. R. Samaniuk, C. T. Scott, T. W. Root, and D. J. Klingenberg, Journal of Rheology56, 649-665 (2012).
  • “Continuous-Flow Aerobic Oxidation of Primary Alcohols with a Copper(I)/TEMPO Catalyst”, J. F. Greene, J. M. Hoover, D. S. Mannel, T. W. Root, and S. S. Stahl, Organic Process Research & Development, 17(10), (2013) 1247-1251.   dx.doi.org/10.1021/op400207f |
  • “Insights into the Industrial Growth of Cyanobacteria from a Model of the Carbon-Concentrating Mechanism,” R. L. Clark, J. C. Cameron, T. W. Root, and B. F. Pfleger, AIChEJournal 60(4) (2014) 1269-1277.
  • “A novel rheometer design for yield stress fluids,” J. R. Samaniuk, T. W. Shay, T. W. Root, D. J. Klingenberg and C. T. Scott, AIChEJournal 60(4) (2014) 1523-1528.
  •  “Aerobic oxidation over heterogeneous catalyst”, D. S. Mannel, S. S. Stahl, and T. W. Root, Organic Process Research & Development (2014), in press.   

Courses

Fall 2014-2015

  • CBE 890 - Pre-Dissertator\'s Research
  • CBE 990 - Thesis-Research
  • CBE 790 - Master\'s Research or Thesis
  • CBE 555 - Seminar-Chemical Engineering Connections
  • CBE 489 - Honors in Research
  • CBE 562 - Special Topics in Chemical Engineering
  • Profile Summary

    Current projects all bring Green Chemistry interests to applications of catalysis, chemical kinetics, and reactor design to different fields

    Biomass Conversion

    A collaboration with Prof. Klingenberg and C. Tim Scott of the USDA Forest Products Lab addresses the initial, upstream steps of processes to convert biomass to fuel or chemicals.  Processing raw biomass in the form of corn stover, switchgrass, or other lignocellulosic materials begins with hydrothermal treatment or dilute acid hydrolysis in the NREL poster process, and continuous processes often encounter difficulties in sustaining flow of the input material without using large quantities of water.  Energy considerations require use of feedstocks with high solids content.  At levels of 10%-25% or more, these materials appear dry and are very non-ideal in flow, exhibiting yield-stress behavior.  We are studying the rheological properties of biomass and how they vary with solids content and processing history (time, temperature, and acid content) in the early stages of fractionating lignocellulosic materialis for later processing.  This project has developed several novel rheometer/reactors applicable to these unusual materials. 

    Catalysts for Aerobic Partial Oxidations

     

    Biorefineries

     

    Energy Storage Strategies for Concentrating Solar Power Processes

    One promising aspect of concentrating solar power (CSP) involves thermal energy storage for use of the solar energy to generate electricity at other peak demand times.  This project is part of a larger collaboration with Prof. Christos Maravelias and Solar Energy Lab (Mechanical Engineering) Profs. Sandy Klein and Franklin Miller investigating opportunities for improving efficiency and cost structure of CSP alternatives. 


    Update Profile