Laurence Russell Weatherley

School of Engineering - Chemical & Petroleum Engineering
Chair, Chemical & Petroleum Engineering
Albert P. Learned Distinguished Professor
Primary office:
Learned Hall
Room 4132B
University of Kansas
1530 West 15th Street
Lawrence, KS 66045


BSc (1st Class Honors), Chemical Engineering, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

PhD, Chemical Engineering, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, United Kingdom

Fellow of the Institution of Professional Engineers, New Zealand

Laurence Weatherley is the Albert P Learned Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Kansas. Weatherley received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in Chemical Engineering for research on ion exchange kinetics in macroporous resins. He then worked in the United Kingdom as a practicing chemical engineer in the nuclear industry for 6 years before joining Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland where he was tenured faculty member in Chemical and Process Engineering for 13 years. In 1992 he was appointed to an endowed chaired professorship at the Queens University of Belfast (QUB), UK, the DuPont Chair of Process Engineering. In 1996 he was appointed to the leadership position of Assistant Provost for Research in the College of Engineering at QUB. In 1998 he accepted the position as the established Chaired Professor of Chemical Engineering and Head of the Department Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He took his current role as Chair of Chemical Engineering at the University of Kansas in 2004. Dr Weatherley’s research interests are in the area of liquid-liquid systems, process intensification, water treatment and enzymatic biotransformation. He has published over 200 research papers, articles, conference papers and other contributions. He has extensive teaching experience in chemical engineering core subject including design, mass transfer, fluid mechanics, and chemical reactor engineering. For nine years until January 2010 he was Executive Editor of a leading international research journal, the Chemical Engineering Journal where his responsibilities covered the environmental chemical engineering section of the journal. Dr Weatherley is a chartered professional engineer (UK), is a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, United Kingdom, and is a Fellow of the Institution of Professional Engineers of New Zealand. He has over fifteen years experience as a Head of Department / Chair taking responsibility for the management and direction in two university departments. He also has experience in the setting up of international opportunities for undergraduate students and has also led a highly successful international research collaboration with the Lodz University of Technology, Poland.


My research interests are in the area of environmental process engineering with a focus on the intensification of chemical reaction and separation processes involving liquid mixtures and solid/ liquid mixtures. Intensification involves development of small, highly efficient process equipment which reduces plant footprint, reduces the inventory of hazardous solvents in chemical processes, and provide opportunities for the application of new green chemistry. Environmental process engineering is not only focused on cleaning up waste but also on innovations for cleaner, energy efficient, safer and more intensive chemical processes with the goal of avoiding generation of waste. Environmentally friendly development of new chemical processes based on feed-stocks such as cellulosic biomass, soy, and shale gas which are abundant in Kansas, require such innovations. Recent personal research projects include development of new miniaturization technology for biodiesel synthesis based on high gravity fields, optimization of biogas production from blended agricultural and municipal wastes, application of natural zeolites in combination with bacteria for enhanced waste water treatment, and the development of new intensive processing based on electrostatic spraying in liquid-liquid systems. To amplify on the latter, an everyday example of a liquid-liquid system is in a bottle of vinaigrette dressing where there are two immiscible liquids – a light oil phase and a heavy aqueous (vinegar phase). The efficient mixing and separation of liquid-liquid mixtures are of great importance in many industries, including oil and petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, biodiesel, nuclear fuel processing, and metal extraction. We have significantly advanced understanding of the physical factors and the mathematics which describe drop size, spraying phenomena and drop motion, together with diffusional phenomena when two immiscible liquids are contacted in an intensive environment. The research is underpinned by an understanding of the fluid dynamics when liquid-liquid mixtures are processed under intensive conditions including high gravity or in the presence of high voltage electrical fields.  Our work in this area provides computer simulation tools for the design and scale-up of novel equipment operating under these conditions. These tools enable low cost design innovation, optimization, and will reduce risks in full scale application.

My areas of research focus on several themes as follows:

Liquid-liquid Systems and Intensification

This research is concerned with the scale-up of intensive liquid extraction processes, focusing on fundamentals of drop motion behavior (as discrete drops and in swarms), modeling of mixing and mass transfer in liquid-liquid contactors; fundamentals of electrically charged drop motion in liquid-liquid systems; interfacial mass transfer, equilibria and drop behavior in biological product extraction systems; Spinning disk techniques for intensive liquid-liquid and gas liquid contact.

Enzymatic Catalysis

This research focuses on the process intensification of enzymatic biotransformation processes in two phase liquid systems and associated downstream separations. Applications include enzymatic modification of natural oils and fats via the production of fatty acids by hydrolysis. This approach is especially of potential value for splitting of sensitive triglycerides, unconjugated systems (which may undergo thermal degradation), hydroxylated fats and oils or polyunsaturated oils.

Ionic Liquid Solvents

Ionic liquid solvents; synthesis, physical property measurement, partition, spraying behavior and applications; new techniques and solvents for extractive whole cell biocatalysis using ionic liquids, toxicology studies; fundamentals of mass transfer and fluid dynamics in liquid-liquid systems involving ionic liquids for separations and for reaction; development of novel reactors and contactors for intensification of liquid-liquid and gas-liquid systems involving ionic liquids.

Ion-Exchange and Biological Treatment Processes

This research focuses on ion-exchange kinetics & equilibria in synthetic and natural ion- exchangers and on simultaneous ion-exchange and bioregeneration in zeolitic ion exchangers. Of special interest is the intensification of the supply of oxygen to aerobic microorganisms during  adsorption and bio-adsorption processes for waste water treatment and potable water pre-treatment, development of combined physical and biological separation processes, and the development of new adsorbents and exchangers based on natural materials. Optimization of biogas production from blended agricultural and municipal wastes is a recent theme developed in collaboration with the Lodz University of Technology, Poland.

Selected Publications

K. Kaminski, M. Krawczyk, J. Augustyniak,  L.R.Weatherley, J. Petera; Electrically induced liquid-liquid extraction from organic mixtures with the use of ionic liquids.  Chemical Engineering Journal. 235, 2014, 109–123.

S.Borowski, J.Domański, L.R.Weatherley;  Anaerobic co-digestion of swine and poultry manure with municipal sewage sludge Waste Management. 34, 2014, 513–521.

S.Borowski, L.R.Weatherley.  Co-digestion of solid poultry manure with municipal sewage sludge – BioResource Technology. 142, 2013, 345–352.

Z.Qiu, J Petera, L.R.Weatherley. “Biodiesel production using an intensified spinning disc reactor” Chemical Engineering Journal. 210, 2012, 597–609.

A.Ahosseini, L.R.Weatherley, A.M.Scurto  Viscosity and Diffusivity for the Ionic Liquid 1-Hexyl-3-methylimidazolium Bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)amide with 1-Octene, Journal of Chemical Engineering Data. 56(10), 2011, 3715-3721.  

A.Ahosseini, B.Sensenich, L.R.Weatherley and A.M.Scurto. Phase Equilibrium and Interfacial Properties of the Ionic Liquid, 1-Hexyl-3-Methyl-Imidazolium Bis(Trifluoromethylsulfonyl)amide and 1-Octene. Journal of Chemical & Engineering Data. 55(4), 2010, 1611-1617.

Z.Qiu, L.Zhao, L.R.Weatherley. Process intensification technologies in continuous biodiesel production Chemical Engineering & Processing: Process Intensification. 49(4), 2010, 323-330.

S.A.Gangu, L.R.Weatherley, A.M.Scurto. Towards in situ extraction of biofuels from fermentations with ionic liquids: Partitioning and bacterial toxicology Abstracts of the American Chemical Society Volume: 240, 2010.

S.A.Gangu, L.R.Weatherley and A. M. Scurto. Whole-Cell Biocatalysis with Ionic Liquids. Current Organic Chemistry.13, 2009, 1242-1258

J. Petera, L.R. Weatherley, D.Rooney, K.Kaminski. A finite element model of enzymatically catalyzed hydrolysis in an electrostatic spray reactor”, Computers and Chemical Engineering. 33, 2009, 144–161.

T.C.Jorgensen and L.R.Weatherley. Continuous ion-exchange removal of ammonium ion onto clinoptilolite in the presence of contaminants. Asia-Pacific Journal of Chemical Engineering. 3(1), 2008, 57-62.

L.R.Weatherley, D.Rooney Enzymatic Catalysis and Electrostatic Process Intensification for Processing of Natural Oils” – The Chemical Engineering Journal, 135(1-2), 2008, 25-32.

N.M.Miladonovic, L.R.Weatherley.Intensification of Ammonia Removal in a Combined Ion-Exchange and Nitrification Column” The Chemical Engineering Journal, 135(1-2), 2008, 15-24.

C.Tsouris, L.R.Weatherley Process intensification and innovation process (PI)2 conference II—Cleaner, sustainable, efficient technologies for the future Christchurch, New Zealand, September 24–29,(2006) The Chemical Engineering Journal,135, 2008,1-2.

L.R.Weatherley, S.M. Williams, I.Tabakh, J.Petera . Biodiesel Production: - : Novel Intensive Liquid-Liquid Reactors for Biodiesel. Patent Application No. 16994.17. 2008.

J.Petera, L.R.Weatherley, A.P Hume, T.Gawrysiak. A finite element algorithm for Particle/Droplet Trajectory Tracking tested in a liquid-liquid system in the presence of an external electric field” – Computers in Chemical Engineering, 31, 2007, 1369-1388.

T.C. Jorgensen & L.R. Weatherley. Removal of Ammonium in the Presence of Organic Compounds by Packed Columns of Ion Exchange Resin - Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology. 81, 2006, 1151-1158.

M.K. Vasudevamirthy, L.R.Weatherley, M.Lever. Enzyme stabilization using synthetic compensatory solutes. Biocatalysis and Biotransformation. 23(3/4), 2005, 285-291.

J.Petera, W.Strzelecki, D.Agrawal, L.R.Weatherley. Charged droplet and particle-mixing studies in liquid-liquid systems in the presence of non-linear electrical fields Chemical Engineering Science. 60(1), 2005, 135-149.

L.R.Weatherley, N.D.Miladinovic. Comparison of the ion exchange uptake of ammonium ion onto New Zealand clinoptilolite and mordenite. Water Research, 38(20), 2004, 4305-4312.

L.R.Weatherley N. Miladinovic . Ammonia Removal From Aqueous Solution by the Macronet cationic ion exchanger Purolite MN 500” in Ion Exchange Technology for Today and Tomorrow,  ed. M. Cox, 295-302, Proceedings of IEX2004, Cambridge UK, SCI.

A.P.Hume, J.Petera, L.R.Weatherley. Trajectories of charged drops in a liquid-liquid system: The effect of geometrical scale-up Industrial and Engineeering Research, 43(9), 2004, 2264-2270.

N Miladonovic, L R Weatherley, J L Lopez-Ruiz. Ammonia removal from saline waste-water by ion-exchange. Water, Air and Soil Pollution:Focus, 4, 2004,169-177.

A.P.Hume, J.Petera and L.R.Weatherley. Trajectories of charge drops in a liquid-liquid system. The Chemical Engineering Journal, 95, 2003,171-177.

E.Jones, J.Petera,. S.C.Ting, L.R Weatherley.Experimental Residence Time Distributions in a Co-Current Electrically Enhanced Liquid-Liquid Contactor”, Transactions  of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, Part A,  Chemical Engineering Research and  Design, 81(A6), 2003, 601-610.

T.C.Jorgensen and L.R.Weatherley. Ammonia removal from wastewater by ion exchange in the presence of organic contaminants, Water Research, Volume 37, Issue 8 , 2003, 1723-1728.

E.Jones and L.R.Weatherley.Modelling the kinetics of lipase catalysed oil hydrolysis in an  electrically enhanced liquid-liquid system”. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, vol 78 (2/3), 2003, 194-198.

N.Carolan and L.R.Weatherley. The Effect of Protein and Broth Impurities on the Partition of   Citric Acid into n-Butanol from Aqueous Solutions” Developments in Chemical Engineering,11, 2003, 223-246.

J.Petera and L.R.Weatherley. Modeling of mass transfer from falling droplets”, Chemical Engineering Science, 56, 2001, 4929-4947.

N.A.Hamill, L.R. Weatherley, C.Hardacre  Use of a batch rotating photocatalytic contactor for the degradation of organic pollutants in wastewater” Applied Catalysis B-Environ, 30(1-2), 2001, 49-60

G.A.Walker and L.R.Weatherley. COD removal from textile industry effluent. The Chemical Engineering Journal. 84(2), 2001, 125-132.

M Savage and L.R.Weatherley.  Integrated Treatment Processes for Primary Wool Scouring   Effluent,  paper published in the Proceedings of  World Chemical Engineering Congress, Melbourne, Australia, September 2001.

G.A.Walker and L.R.Weatherley. Adsorption of acid dyes from aqueous solution – the effect of   adsorbent pore size distribution and dye aggregation. The Chemical Engineering Journal, 83(3), 2001, 201-206.

D.Rooney and L.R.Weatherley. The effect of reaction conditions upon the lipase catalysed   hydrolysis of high oleate sunflower oil in a stirred liquid-liquid reactor. Process Biochemistry, 36(10), 2001, 947-954.

L.R.Weatherley and N.Carolan. The effect of additives and impurities on the partition of ethanol  into 1-decanol from aqueous solutions.  Developments in Chemical Engineering, 8(5/6), 2000, 551-570.

G.A.Walker and L.R.Weatherley. Textile wastewater treatment using granular activated carbon  adsorption in fixed beds” –Separation Science and Technology, 35(9), 2000  1329-1341.

G.M.Walker and L.R.Weatherley. Prediction of Bisolute Dye Adsorption isotherms on activated carbon” Transactions of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, 78 part B, 2000, 219-223.

L.R.Weatherley and R.J.McVeigh. “The Enhancement of Ammonium Ion Removal onto Columns of Clinoptilolite in the Presence of Nitrifying Bacteria” in Ion Exchange at the     Millenium ed. J A Greig,  133-141, 2000, SCI Cambridge UK.

Q.Gan, F.Baykara, H.Rahmat & L.R.Weatherley. Analysis of a direct contact membrane reactor for lipase catalysed oil  hydrolysis in a dynamic emulsion system.  Catalysis Today, 56, 2000, 179-190.

G.M.Walker and L.R.Weatherley. Biodegradation and biosorption of acid anthraquinone dye. Environmental Pollution, 108, 2000, 219-223 

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