Dr. Wilhite is Associate Professor at Texas A&M University, specializing in the design and analysis of catalytic reactors and gas separation processes. His research activities have focused on process intensification in autothermal microreactor reformers and catalytic membrane reactors for hydrogen and synthesis gas production. He has amassed over $1.5 mil in research funding and has co-authored over 30 peer-reviewed research manuscripts, 2 patents and 1 book chapter. He is currently serving a three-year elected term as a Director of the catalysis and reaction engineering division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Dr. Wilhite has received numerous recognitions for his research work in chemical reaction engineering, including the 2007 Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator award, a 2008 DuPont Young Professor Grant and the National Science Foundation CAREER award. He has received financial support from multiple industry partners, the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund and the Office of Naval Research.
In collaboration with Power+Energy, Inc., our research group is employing detailed computational fluid dynamic modeling (CFD) of microreactor systems to realize breakthrough microreactor technology for natural gas processing to synthesis gas (for stranded NG monetization) or high-purity hydrogen (for alternative energy infrastructure).
In collaboration with Eastman Chemicals, our group has been developing algorithms capable of accurately predicting packed-bed structures typical of industrial-scale reactors; these spatial maps of local bed structure will be coupled to catalyst- and bed-scale reactor models to understand the impact of catalyst bed structure upon reactor performance and stability.
In collaboration with the MKOPSC and Dr. Sam Mannan, we are exploring new techniques to integrate classical reactor stability analysis of continuous-flow reactors with quantitative risk analysis (QRA) for rapidly searching vast design parameter spaces to identify inherently safer, economical continuous reactor designs for fine chemicals and pharmaceutical manufacture.
In collaboration with Dr. Jaime Grunlan (MEEN), we are investigating a novel class of low-cost, highly manufacturable polymeric membrane materials for light gas separations including but not limited to hydrogen purification and CO2 sequestration.
Wilhite Chemical Reaction Engineering (CRE-W) laboratory is fully equipped for manufacturing and testing catalytic packed-bed reactors and membrane reactors, as well as analysis of permselective membrane materials via variable-pressure, constant-volume and Wilke-Kallenbach (constant pressure) permeation apparatus. The laboratory is also home to a suite of materials processing equipment for synthesizing ceramics and performing electrochemical analysis of solid-oxide electrolyte materials.