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Professor Edgar Acosta (ChemE) is the 2012 Syncrude Canada Innovation Award

Professor Edgar Acosta has been awarded the Syncrude Canada Innovation Award by the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering (CSChE). A professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, Professor Acosta was recognized for his contributions to the chemical engineering field.

The formulation of detergents, pharmaceuticals, food products, cosmetics and oilfield chemicals is largely undertaken in industrial settings with limited academic attention. Sustainability concerns, increased regulatory constraints and complex functionality call for an engineering approach to formulation. The mission of Professor Acosta’s Laboratory of Colloid and Formulation Engineering is to incorporate chemical engineering principles (thermodynamics, transport phenomena) in the formulation of products and processes.

Through the use of microemulsion phase behaviour, Professor Acosta and his group are studying the thermodynamics of surfactant-oil-water (SOW) systems. This research led to the development of an equation of state that predicts solubilisation capacity, interfacial tension, phase transitions and viscosity of SOW systems. The equation has been used to characterize the hydrophobicity of surfactants and oils involved in oil sand extraction, enhanced oil recovery, vegetable oil extraction and in the reformulation of “green” products, particularly detergents, hard surface cleaners, and cosmetics.

In 2009, the province of Ontario granted Professor Acosta an Early Researcher Award (ERA) to continue his work. Also in 2009, the American Cleaning Institute (formerly the Soap and Detergent Association) awarded Professor Acosta’s group the best paper award for their method to determine the hydrophobicity of oils (reported as the equivalent alkane carbon number or EACN) and surfactants (reported as the characteristic curvature or Cc), which is now being used by several companies and formulation consultants around the world. In 2010, Professor Acosta received the Young Scientist Research Award from The American Oil Chemists’ Society for his contributions to the advancement of the field of surfactants and detergents.

“Congratulations to Professor Acosta. It is wonderful to see a colleague receive the recognition that he deserves,” said Professor Grant Allen, Chair of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry.

CSChE’s Syncrude Canada Innovation Award is presented to a resident of Canada who has made a distinguished contribution to the field of chemical engineering while working in Canada. Nominees for this award must be under the age of 40 by January of the year in which the nomination becomes effective.

Professor Acosta will be presented with the award at the 62nd Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference in October.

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