2015 Award Recipient

Dr. Jesse (Jingxu 祝京旭) Zhu (Chemical Engineering)

Dr. Jesse (Jingxu 祝京旭) Zhu (Western University)

Dr. Jesse (Jingxu, 祝京旭) Zhu is an internationally renowned researcher who has made pioneering contributions to both fundamental and industrial applied research in his field of chemical engineering. His contributions to the research in particle technology, powder handling and fluidization have had broad applications internationally. He is a frequent publisher and presenter at home and abroad and has supervised hundreds of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

Dr. Zhu is a Canada Research Chair (Tier 1), Particle Technology Applications and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He is the recipient of numerous award including The Engineering Medal – Research and Development of the Professional Engineers of Ontario, The R.S. Jane Memorial Award from the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering.

Major Contributions

Dr. Zhu is a Tier-I Canada Research Chair (2014-present) and Professor of Chemical Engineering at Western University, with a special interest in powder handling, fluid-particle and multiphase systems.

Dr. Zhu’s research has produced several technologies used in real-world application.

The use of powdered paint has emerged as an environmentally-friendly alternative to the liquid painting process by the elimination of the liquid solvent and the ability to recycle over sprayed powder. This powder coating technology has been commercialized both in Canada and China for over 10 years. By incorporating functional nano materials into the paint powders, high specialty coatings, such as anti-microbial coatings, hydrophobic coatings and super-durable coatings, have emerged.

Dr. Zhu’s research has also been use to develop coating of pharmaceutical tablets, leading to improved protection. For example, a new powder coated tablet can now consistently release active ingredients in the human body over 2-3 days, allowing for a patient to take a tablet only once every 2 or 3 days instead of having to remember to do so daily.

A third major technology involves the use of a suspended powder bed to enhance existing wastewater treatment process by 5-10 times. Most, if not all, domestic wastewater is treated by a biological process where many tiny microbes literally “eat” (consume) the organic matter to clean the wastewater. Traditionally, a huge area is required for this process — pool after pool is required to hold the wastewater while microbes perform cleanup. As these microbes are tiny and their density is close to that of water, they tend to flow out with the treated water and be lost, resultant in lost efficiency. Dr. Zhu’s innovative idea was to suspend tons of small particles inside such pools to provide a “safe-heaven” for the microbes to naturally attach. The particles, being heavier than water, keep the useful microbes from flowing out with the water stream by ‘weighing them down’. As a result of such technology, the concentration of the microbes is increased by 50-100 times and the entire treatment system is easily 5-10 times more efficient. The reduced volume now allows wastewater be treated in a more compact location than before. For example, a new pilot treatment system being tested in China only occupies a 100 sq ft basement room to treat all the wastewater from a 50 family high-rise apartment. This is a revolutionary change to the wastewater industry as the long distance transportation of wastewater to suburban area for treatment is no longer required saving significant energy and infrastructural expense.

Dr. Zhu has also invented several other technologies such as a new drug inhaler that can dose extremely small quantities (50 micro grams) some 200 times smaller than the current technologies. This has application in the dispersal of drugs to the lungs. He has also invented a super-efficient separation process that can separate, for example, high value-added proteins from waste streams such as cheese whey using very little fresh water. Both have undergone pilot demo and animal studies and are ready to be used.

Dr. Zhu has supervised approximately 100 Graduate students and another approximately 100 post-doctoral fellows and visiting professors. He has authored or co-authored over 350 refereed papers and has been granted more than 20 patents. He has also significantly contributed to the international reputation and economic well-being of Canada through the organization of and presentation at a large number of conferences and symposia.

Awards and Recognition

Dr. Zhu has received many awards and prizes over his career including: the Syncrude Canada Innovation Award (1999); Distinguished Young Scholar’s Award-Overseas, National Nature Science Foundation of China (1999); Outstanding Chinese Canadian Award, Alliance of Toronto Chinese Associations (2002); Distinguished Scholar’s Award – Overseas, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China (2002); Bantrel Award in Design and Industrial Practice, Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering (2007); Distinguished University Professor, Western University (2012); R.S. Jane Memorial Award, Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering (2013); The Engineering Medal – Research and Development, Professional Engineers of Ontario (2013).

Dr. Zhu is also a Fellow of the following institutions: Chemical Institute of Canada (2000); Canadian Academy of Engineering (2008); Engineering Institute of Canada (2009); Visiting Fellow of Tsinghua University (2009-2014) and Zhejiang University of Technology (2012-2015); Royal Society of Canada (2015).