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Rob Whiteley, Ph.D.

Dr. Robe Whiteley


Ph.D., Chemical Engineering

Ohio State University, 1991


M. S., Chemical Engineering

Ohio State University, 1989


B. S., Chemical Engineering

Oklahoma State University, 1977

Major Areas of Interest


Ethanol Separation for Biofuels

Process Monitoring/Control/Optimization

Recent Research Activities

Rob is currently involved in projects in three different areas.  The first involves collaboration with the technical staff at Fractionation Research, Inc. (FRI).  Located on the OSU campus, FRI is a non-profit research consortium supported by the largest petroleum and petrochemical companies in the world.  FRI is recognized globally as the gold-standard for industrial-scale distillation research.  Rob and his students are working with FRI to develop new models (empirical and first-principles) to predict the efficiency of valve trays.  Rob’s team has access to over 50 years of FRI experimental data.  Although most of the results will remain proprietary, FRI-approved portions of the work will be made public.


Rob is extending his distillation focus with researchers in OSU’s School of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) in the area of biofuels.  Rob’s group is currently preparing to build a farm-scale demonstration system to perform dewatering of ethanol produced from sweet sorghum.  The system includes two 12-inch diameter distillation columns to produce a 95 % ethanol fuel product.  Mol sieves and pervaporation will be evaluated for final dewatering to a 99.5 % product.  “Sorganol” represents an alternative to starch (e.g., corn) and cellulosic (e.g., switchgrass) based methods of producing bioethanol.


The third project involves investigation of appropriate methods to determine economic values of intermediate product streams used in the objective function of APC (advanced process control) multivariable controllers.  The work involves a combination of control and LP optimization concepts at the interface between theory and practice.

Recent Publications

  • Vennavelli, A.Y., T.J. Cai and J.R. Whiteley, “Reflux temperature control – a case study” accepted, AIChE Annual Mtg., Minneapolis, MN, 2011.
  • Resetarits, M.R., A.N. Vennavelli, A.Y. Ogundeji and J.R. Whiteley, “Distillation column time-to steady    state,” accepted, AIChE Annual Mtg., Minneapolis, MN, 2011.
  • Resetarits, M.R., T.J. Cai and J.R. Whiteley, “On distillation tray entrainment,” preprint, Paper #48e, AIChE Spring Mtg., Chicago, IL, 2011.
  • Vennavelli, A., J.R. Whiteley and M.R. Resetarits, “Modeling fraction jetting on distillation trays,” preprint, Paper #48f, AIChE Spring Mtg., Chicago, IL, 2011.
  • Wagner, J., and J. R. Whiteley.Compressible and Two-Phase Flow with Applications to Relief System Sizing.Safety and Chemical Engineering Education (SACHE), Center for Chemical Process Safety, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, New York, NY, 2010.
  • Bellmer, D. D., R. L. Huhnke, J. R. Whiteley, and C. B. Godsey.“The Untapped Potential of Sweet Sorghumas a Bioenergy Feedstock.”Biofuels, 1(4), 2010.
  • Mukherjee, A., J. R. Whiteley and D. Bellmer. “Design of an On-Farm Dewatering System.” Paper #458a, AIChE  Annual Mtg., Philadelphia, 2008.
  • Arjunan, J., and J. R. Whiteley. “Analytical Results for Tiered Intermediate Product Prices for Apc Using a Refinery LP.” Paper #409f, AIChE  Annual Mtg., Philadelphia, 2008.
  • Xie, F. and J. R. Whiteley. “Model predictive control of a geothermally heated bridge deck.” Paper # ThA03.1, Proceedings of the  American Control Conference, New York City, 2007.
  • Arjunan, J., and J. R. Whiteley. “Generating tiered intermediate product prices for APC using a refinery LP.” Paper #442c, AIChE  Annual Mtg., Salt Lake City, 2007.
  • Vennavelli, A., and J. R. Whiteley. “Error band identification and characterization for APC performance assessment.” Paper #57b, AIChE Spring Mtg., Houston, 2007.
  • Whiteley, J.R., and J. Wagner.  “Industrial collaboration in the capstone design courses: experiences at Oklahoma State University.” Paper #538f, AIChE  Annual Mtg., San Francisco, 2006.
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