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McKelvey School of Engineering

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EECE SEMINAR - Alan W Weimer

Friday, April 12 | 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Stephen F. & Camilla T. Brauer Hall, Room 12
6548 Forest Park Pkwy, St. Louis, MO 63112, USA

Alan (Al) W. Weimer, Melvin E. and Virginia M. Clark Professor
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
University of Colorado

From Laboratory Curiosities to Commercial Powder Processing Plants - Persistence in the Face of Adversity (A Personal Perspective)

ABSTRACT:  The commercial path is described for two new powder processing technologies that resulted in two new businesses.   Both developments started out as laboratory curiosities and had to overcome significant skepticism and technical and financial challenges along the way.  One was an industrial endeavor with a major chemical company to start a new business for the synthesis of advanced non-oxide powder materials using a newly discovered processing route.   The other was an academic endeavor resulting in a spinoff company from the university lab, bootstrapping, merging, and finally making technology believers out of skeptics for the novel coating of particles to functionalize surfaces.   Both represented significant advances in the two respective project areas.  Key to both successes was an understanding of scientific and engineering fundamentals, intellectual property to protect the risk takers, and viable market opportunities for products providing for cost/performance advantages over the competition and lower cost products for the end-user.  A perspective is provided for these two success stories with the hope that others with similar opportunities can plod forward in the face of similar inevitable headwinds.  It’s easy to quit and the road from a laboratory curiosity to a commercial process/product is not an easy one.  

BIOSKETCH:  Alan (Al) W. Weimer is Clark Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) (https://www.colorado.edu/lab/weimer/), joining the faculty in 1996 after a 16-year career with the Dow Chemical Company (Dow).  His research is focused on surface functionalization of fine particles and their applications, as well as the use of concentrated sunlight to drive high-temperature chemical reactions.  He has received major research awards in his career including the 2017 AIChE Lifetime Achievement Award in Particle Technology, the 2009 AIChE Thomas Baron Award in Fluid-Particle Systems, and the 2005 U.S. Dept. of Energy Hydrogen Program R&D Award.  He is recipient of the Dow Chemical Company 1995 Excellence in Science and 1990 Spangenberg Ceramics Founder’s Awards.   He was named Inventor of the Year at both Dow and CU.   He is an inventor on 46 issued U.S. Patents, has directed or is currently directing the research of 40 Ph.D. students, and published or has in press nearly 250 peer-reviewed journal articles.  He was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in 2018.    He has spun four technologies out of his academic laboratory that have resulted in significant commercial interest.

Event Type



McKelvey School of Engineering


Science & Technology



Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering


Event Contact


Speaker Information

Alan (Al) W. Weimer, Melvin E. and Virginia M. Clark Professor
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
University of Colorad

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