New Engineering chair to focus research on performance of fuel cells
by Brenda Ellis
photo by John Russell
Peter Pintauro, new chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, believes the department and Vanderbilt are a good fit for him.
“I believe it’s important that engineers be well trained in the arts and humanities, and Vanderbilt has strong academic programs outside of engineering and the physical sciences,” he explained.
Vanderbilt’s reputation, the quality of its students and its young and talented engineering faculty were enough to bring Pintauro from Case Western Reserve University, where he was the Kent Hale Smith Professor of Engineering and chair of the chemical engineering department.
“I am very impressed with the leadership of the School of Engineering,” he said. “I got the sense that the dean is committed to seeing the school grow in size and reputation, and he has a very positive outlook about the school’s future.”
Nationally recognized for his work in the fields of fuel cell membranes and electrochemical engineering, Pintauro is committed to building on the university’s reputation and the department’s strong teaching and research programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
In addition to his administrative responsibilities, he will serve as professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, teach undergraduate and graduate classes, and continue his research work, which is focused on developing new membranes for hydrogen/air, direct methanol and alkaline fuel cells; modeling species transport in ion-exchange membranes; and investigating electrochemical methods for organic synthesis.
“The biggest impact of my research will be on the performance (power output) of fuel cells, which will lead to less expensive fuel cells,” he said. “I work on new polymer materials and new polymer nanostructures for high-performance proton-exchange membranes to be used in hydrogen and direct methanol fuel cells. Better membranes will improve fuel cell performance and durability, which will ultimately make fuel cells more attractive for portable, automotive and stationary power applications.”
Pintauro is the author or co-author of 98 scientific publications and a listed inventor on six patents. He was president of the North American Membrane Society from October 2006 through July 2008 and currently serves on its board of directors. He is an active member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Electrochemical Society and the American Chemical Society.
Pintauro earned his B.S and M.S. degrees in chemical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of California-Los Angeles. After receiving his Ph.D., Pintauro served as a postdoctoral scholar and staff engineer in UCLA’s Department of Chemical Engineering. Prior to joining Case Western Reserve in 2002, he spent 16 years on the chemical engineering faculty at Tulane University in New Orleans.
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