AESF Foundation Grant Winners

Every year, the AESF Foundation funds university professors so they may hire students to conduct research on projects directly related to the surface finishing industry. This year, their findings will be presented during the Technical Sessions at SUR/FIN! Join us in celebrating their hard work and dedication to the finishing industry, and preview their abstracts ahead of SUR/FIN below:



Dr. Qingguo Huang; University of Georgia

June 7, 2:30 PM- Room 3

Treatment of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)-contaminated water in large volumes remains a challenge to date.  Hybrid separation-destruction technologies are promising to manage PFAS contamination. Foam fractionation (FF) and electrochemical oxidation (EO) are two cost-effective technologies for PFAS separation and destruction, respectively. This work systematically explored the performance of treating PFAS in aqueous environmental samples with foam fractionation followed by electrochemical oxidation (FF-EO). For each treatment step, the relationships between the treatment performance and operational factors were analyzed statistically. For the FF, enrichment and removal of PFAS depend on PFAS carbon chain length, solution conductivity, and total PFAS concentration. Whether FF-EO treatment costs less energy than direct EO without FF mainly relies upon PFAS carbon chain length and TOC content in the water. For aqueous environmental samples tested in this study, FF-EO is more energy-efficient than EO alone.


Abdurrafay Siddiqui; Wayne State University

June 6, 1:30 PM- Room 5

Technologies are a catalyst for sustainability improvement as they can help lower natural resource usage and waste production. The surface finishing industry has shown much growth over the past few years related to technological improvement and implementation. However, due to the high levels of environmental regulation, health risks, and low profit margins, applying new technologies could be a risk. And if sustainability principles are not thoroughly implemented and used in the assessment of new technologies, unexpected, and possibly harmful, results may ensue. However, it is also of note that technology assessments can be intensive and require large amounts of resources. Thus, it is important to, not only have a sustainable technology assessment methodology, but also be able to apply this methodology easily.

In the past two years, we developed a metal-finishing-specific sustainability metrics system, which was composed of three sets of indicators for measuring over forty aspects of sustainability in economic, environmental, and social dimensions. We then introduced a technology evaluation methodology that was scientific and systematic and incorporated said sustainability metrics system.  In this presentation, we introduce a sustainability assessment and technology evaluation tool. This tool can be used to evaluate the sustainability performance of electroplating facilities, portray results in an easy to read manner as to facilitate future plans of action, and include technology evaluation to identify the best possible results.  The capabilities of this tool will be shown through case studies by studying the sustainability of different electroplating facilities and the effects of implementing identified technologies.


Majid Minary; University of Texas at Dallas

June 7, 1:30 PM- Room 5

Porous yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ), in a composite with NiO, is widely used as a cermetMelectrode in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) and solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs).  Given cycles of high temperature in these energy devices, mechanical integrity of the porous YSZ is critical. Pore morphology, as well as properties of the ceramic, ultimately affect the mechanical properties of the cermet electrode.

Here, we fabricated porous YSZ sheets via freezing of an aqueous slurry on a cold thermoelectric plate and quantified their flexural properties, both for as-fabricated samples and samples subjected to thermal shock at 200 C to 500 C.

Results of this work have implications for the hydrogen economy and global decarbonization efforts, in particular for the manufacturing of SOFCs and SOECs.


Ms. Mahboubeh Moghadasi; Dept. of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science Wayne State Univ.

June 6, 2:30 PM- Room 5

The rapid growth of digital technologies provides a variety of opportunities for smart manufacturing. Digital Twin (DT) is one of them. Digital twins are used across the whole manufacturing lifecycle, from design to operation of manufacturing facilities. A DT is a virtual representation of a physical system, where real-time data is used to ensure its accuracy and fidelity. As manufacturing sustainability heavily relies on the availability of system information, the DT technology is naturally highly valuable for pursuing a few key tasks in sustainability, including sustainability assessment and analysis, future trend prediction, short-to-long-term strategy development for sustainability performance, and effectiveness evaluation of strategy implementation.

 In this presentation, a DT-based methodology for constructing a virtual electroplating plant and performing dynamic sustainability assessment is introduced. Techniques for acquisition and utilization of dynamic data in various operational scenarios are discussed to ensure DT fidelity.  A case study on zinc alloy plating is selected for using the DT platform to conduct sustainability performance evaluation using the sustainability metrics system that we have developed specifically for the metal finishing industry.  The advantage of DT-based dynamic sustainability assessment is described after comparing with conventional sustainability assessment. 


Dr. Brian Chaplin; University of Illinois-Chicago

June 7, 2:00 PM- Room 3

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been used in metal finishing and electroplating applications as a mist suppressant. These compounds, termed as forever chemicals, are persistent and highly toxic, which has prompted research for their destruction. The overall objective of this work was to utilize a cost-effective reactive electrochemical membrane (REM) for the electrochemical destruction of PFAS from synthetic and real electroplating wastewater. Experimental work related to their electrochemical destruction will be discussed with regard to the applied potential, flow rate, product formation, and effect of solution conditions. Results from this work will also be discussed in terms of further development of this technology in the face of regulatory uncertainty of PFAS.