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Joseph M. DeSimone, W.R. Kenan Jr. distinguished professor of chemistry and chemical engineering at UNC and N.C. State University, has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering.
Election to the prestigious national organization is among the highest professional distinctions awarded in the field of engineering. The academy is a private, nonprofit institution that advises the federal government and conducts independent studies on important topics in engineering and technology.
DeSimone is one of 74 new members and 10 foreign associates elected this year. Including DeSimone, UNC has six faculty members who are academy members.
DeSimone, who holds more than 70 U.S. patents, has been widely recognized for discovering a revolutionary way to use carbon dioxide in place of conventional organic solvents for environmentally responsible manufacturing, cleaning and processing. His method already has led to the development of a new kind of Teflon and a form of dry cleaning that produces no hazardous byproducts. DuPont built a $40 million plant in Fayetteville to produce the new Teflon, which has applications in data communications, semiconductors, automotive parts and other industrial markets.
DeSimone directs UNC’s new Institute for Advanced Materials, Nanoscience and Technology, an interdisciplinary endeavor drawing on the University’s research strengths in polymer science, nanomaterials and nanobiosciences, and involving faculty from the curriculum in applied and materials sciences, and the departments of chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics and astronomy.
DeSimone also is co-director of the Kenan Center for the Utilization of Carbon Dioxide in Manufacturing, a not-for-profit research organization sponsored by 16 corporations worldwide, and director of the National Science Foundation’s Science Technology Center for Environmentally Responsible Solvents and Processes, a collaborative endeavor with five universities.
He was chairman and co-founder of Micell Technologies Inc. (1996-2003), the company that pioneered the carbon dioxide dry cleaning technology.