Faculty Directory

Contact Information

Office:
Goddard Hall, 014A
Phone: +1-508-831-6036
Fax: +1-508-831-5853
rdatta@wpi.edu

Ravindra Datta

I happened upon teaching and research by accident. I had gone to the University of California, Santa Barbara, for a MS in chemical engineering, with the intention of returning to my engineering job at Larsen & Toubro, Bombay. Research hooked me, however, and I stayed on for a PhD, and, in fact, never left academia after that. Indeed, my world has remained virtually unchanged over the last three decades, continuing to work on applying the principles of kinetics, catalysis, and reaction engineering to energy challenges, surrounded by bright young people eager to do the same. Sustainable and clean energy constitute some of the biggest challenges facing humanity. While the long-term solution is renewable energy, much can be accomplished in the coming decades simply by improving energy efficiency. Fuel cells and hydrogen represent some of the most promising clean energy technology in this regard, which we have been pursuing since the early nineties. In addition, we have pursued renewable fuels, including ethanol and ethanol-derived ethers, for blending with gasoline. Further, we have developed novel catalysts and approaches to investigate kinetics of reaction networks.

Research Interests

  • Fuel Cells and Hydrogen
  • Renewable Fuels
  • Kinetics of Reaction Networks
  • Novel Catalysts and Reactors
  • Multicomponent Diffusion in Catalysts and in Membranes

Education

  • BTech, Indian Institute of Technology - Kharagpur, 1972
  • PhD, University of California - Santa Barbara, 1981

Featured Publications

  • Deveau, N. D., Ma, Y. H., and Datta, R., “Beyond Sieverts’ Law: A Comprehensive Microkinetic Model of Hydrogen Permeation in Dense Metal Membranes,” J. Memb. Sci., in press (2013).
  • Rosenthal, N. S., Vilekar, S. A., and Datta, R., “A Comprehensive yet Comprehensible Analytical Model for the Direct Methanol Fuel Cell,” J. Power Sources, 206, 129-143 (2012).
  • Vilekar, S.A., Fishtik, I., Datta, R., “The Peculiar Catalytic Sequence of the Ammonia Decomposition Reaction and its Steady-State Kinetics,” Chem. Engng. Sci., 71, 333-344 (2012).
  • Vilekar, S. A., Fishtik, I., and Datta, R., “The Steady-State Kinetics of Parallel Reaction Networks,” Chem. Engng. Sci., 65, 2921-2933 (2010).
  • Vilekar, S. A., Fishtik, I., and Datta, R., “Kinetics of the Hydrogen Electrode Reaction,” J. Electrochem. Soc., 157, B1040-B1050 (2010).
  • Vilekar, S. A., and Datta, R., “The Effect of Hydrogen Crossover on Open-Circuit Voltage (OCV) in PEM Fuel Cells,” J. Power Sources, 195, 2241-2247 (2010).

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Spotlight On: Current Research

Fuel cells are amazing devices, with no moving parts, that produce electric power silently and directly from a fuel. The current limitations of PEM fuel cells are high cost, inadequate durability, and sensitivity to contaminants in hydrogen.

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