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Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Fall 2019 Seminar

Event Date 

October 9, 2019 - 3:15pm to 4:30pm


Perlstein Hall, Auditorium Room 131

10 W. 33rd Street

Chicago, IL 60616


    “Development of Biodegradable Anionic Detergent

                                                                                  Bipin V. Vora

                                           Consultant: R&D, Process Design and Technology Evaluation


Evidence has been found that ancient Babylonians understood soap making as early as 2800 BC. An Egyptian medical document from about 1500 BC describes combining animal and vegetable oils with alkaline salts to form a soap-like material used for treating skin diseases, as well as for washing Modern surfactant industry is based on petroleum derived surfactants.  Production of synthetic detergents began during early 1940s with discovery of dodecylbenzene sodium sulfonate showing excellent detergency characteristics. This molecule was synthesized by alkylation of propylene tetramer (branched dodecene) with benzene followed by sulfonation. After almost two decades of its use in industrial nations, it was realized that this molecule showed significantly poor biodegradation compared to the surfactants produced from natural fatty acids in past. Cause of the poor biodegradation was linked to highly branched structure of the molecule. This presentation describes development of biodegradable linear alkylbenezene (LAB) based synthetic detergents, including the development of a solid acid catalyst for alkylation replacing liquid HF acid.


Bipin Vora, Recipient of 2013 Platts Global Lifetime Achievement award and 2011 Chemtech-India Technology Leadership Award was inducted into National Academy of Engineering (NAE) at its national meeting September 2018 at Washington DC.  After 40 years at UOP Bipin retired in 2006. His last position at UOP was “UOP Fellow”, a highest technical ladder position at UOP LLC., A Honeywell Company. He continued as a consultant and advisor to UOP R&D and senior managements until June 2015 when he took a real retirement from UO. Products produced today employing technologies developed under leadership of Bipin Vora are valued at more than 25 billion US dollars per year.

He received B. Sc. (Hons) in Chemistry from University of Mumbai in 1963, followed by B.S and M.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, and joined UOP in 1967. Over the years he has held several technical positions including Director of Development for Olefins & Detergent Processes, Director of Development for Petrochemical Processes and was named UOP Fellow in 2001. Bipin has been credited to leading development and commercialization of several new process technologies, among them UOP OleflexTM process for propane and isobutane dehydrogenation; higher conversion PacolTM, DeFineTM and UOP/Cepsa DetalTM alkylation processes for the production of linear alkylbenzenes, a raw material for synthetic detergents; and UOP/Hydro MTOTM process for conversion of methanol to olefins.

In addition to awards cited earlier he has received many other awards, few among them are-2015 AIChE Process Development Practice, 2009 Fuels & Petrochemical Division (AIChE) Distinguished Service Award, AIChE National Award of Chemical Engineering Practice-2003, ACS National Award in Industrial Chemistry-2002 and Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Engineering, University of New Mexico-1999

He has been invited speaker at several Research and Academic institutions, and at technical meetings. He served as a distinguished visiting professor at PDPU-Gandhinagar, and Nirma U, Ahmedabad India during January-March 2016-18 period.  He served as a member of Research Advisory Committee at HPCL, Bangalore 2015-2016 and presently he is a member of advisory committee for School of Engineering at UNM.

He is a Fellow of AIChE and served as a Director of Fuels and Petrochemicals Division.  He served on two Advisory Boards to the Department of Chemical Engineering 2000-2009, one at University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM and second at IIT, Chicago. He is a member of the American Chemical Society and member emeritus of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Illinois, USA.

He holds 96 US Patents and over 200 international patents. He has over 150 publications in various technical and trade journals, including contributions to Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Engineering, Encyclopedia of Chemical and Process Design, Handbook of Detergents, Handbook of Heterogeneous Catalysis, Handbook of Industrial Catalytic Processes, Applied Catalysis and Studies in Surface Science and Catalysis

Light refreshment will be served.