Energy, chemical engineering professor receives fellowship

Ezgi Toraman outside the Steidle Building with her graduate students Sean Okonsky, left, and Antara Bhowmick, right. Credit: Jamie Oberdick / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Hilal Ezgi Toraman, Penn State assistant professor of energy engineering and chemical engineering, has been named the Virginia S. and Philip L. Walker Jr. Faculty Fellow in Materials Science and Engineering and Fuel Science Program. The fellowship was awarded to Toraman for her contributions to teaching, research and service in the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering. 

Phillip L. Walker Jr. was an Evan Pugh Professor of Materials Science at Penn State who died in 2009. The fellowship is awarded by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

“I want to convey my sincere thanks to Virginia and Phillip Walker for supporting me as a researcher in the field of fuel science,” Toraman said. “The Virginia S. and Philip L. Walker Jr. Faculty Fellowship is not only a source of funding to further my contribution in teaching, research and public service but also a great source of motivation.”

Toraman’s research focuses on chemical reaction engineering with a goal of understanding production processes for efficient and sustainable use of energy resources such as shale gas, biomass and plastic waste. 

“My work is in line with one of the thematic priorities of the Penn State strategic plan: stewarding our planet’s resources,” Toraman said. “I deal with complex feedstocks and complex chemistries. This requires the use of novel approaches that combine experiments, data science and theory.”

One example of her research is developing resourceful methods to convert plastic waste into energy feedstock to reduce plastic waste. 

“The overwhelming majority, roughly 80%, of global plastic waste either ends up in landfills or contaminating the environment,” Toraman said. “This has serious climate, health, social and economic implications. The technologies that I will develop will allow the chemical recycling of plastic wastes into useful products such as fuels and chemicals. This will minimize negative impacts of such waste not only on the economy but also on the environment.”

Another example is her work with methane, which is the main constituent of shale gas and biogas and has the potential to be an important source of energy and chemicals in the near future. 

“Development of processes for enhancing the value of methane is crucial for developing a sustainable and independent economy,” Toraman said. 

Toraman joined Penn State in fall 2019. Prior to joining the Penn State faculty, Toraman was a postdoctoral researcher with the Delaware Energy Institute at the University of Delaware. She received her doctoral degree in chemical engineering in 2016 from Ghent University in Belgium. She has given more than 20 oral/poster presentations and invited talks at national and international conferences and universities. Also, she has published 11 peer-reviewed articles.


Last Updated February 03, 2020