Research News

Chinese University Honors Waste-To-Energy Expert


posted: January 10, 2008

Chinese University Honors Waste-To-Energy Expert

A leading Earth Institute scholar on the issue of waste to energy has been honored in China. Prof. Nickolas Themelis, director of the Earth Engineering Center, has been named an honorary professor at Chongqing University of Science and Technology. The award was given by Chongqing Executive Vice President Yan Xiping at a ceremony attended by three hundred faculty and students at the end of 2007 ( 

Themelis is Chair and co-founder, with Maria Zannes of IWSA, of the Waste to Energy Research and Technology Council an international consortium of universities, companies and other organizations concerned with materials and energy recovery from solid wastes.  He is the recipient of several professional awards, author of 180 technical papers and books and inventor of about twenty patents related to high temperature processing.  His current research work is on integrated waste management and the design of processes for material and energy recovery from used products.

Prof. Marco Castaldi of Earth and Environmental Engineering, has been appointed Associate Director of the Earth Engineering Center.  Prof. Castaldi's research is focused on advancing the use of indigenous carbon-based materials (biomass, tars and coal, landfill gas, etc.) for producing electrical and thermal energy.  His current teaching includes courses on environmental control and pollution reductions systems, chemical engineering and thermodynamics, combustion chemistry and the catalysis of emissions control.

The Earth Engineering Center (EEC) is the engineering unit of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.  Its mission is to develop technologies that can help in the sustainable development of the Earth's resources: Minerals, energy, water, and the environment.  The Research Associates of EEC include Columbia engineers from various disciplines as well as specialists from other universities and organizations.

The resource needs posed by the population increase and standards of living in the 20th century were met by enormous advances in technology.  However, the cumulative impacts of the intensive use of the Earth's resources, and the attendant generation of wastes on climate and ecology, have emerged as a major concern and a threat to further development.  It is now clear that the use of energy, water and materials is inextricably linked with the environment at local and global scales and that technological developments in the 21st century must address the needs of both "market" and "environment".  This is the domain of Columbia's Earth Engineering Center.