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Mark A. McHugh, Ph.D. - VCU College of Engineering. Engineering West Hall, Richmond, VA, US

Mark A. McHugh, Ph.D. Mark A. McHugh, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, Chemical and Life Science Engineering | VCU College of Engineering

Engineering West Hall, Richmond, VA, UNITED STATES

Professor McHugh researches high-pressure fluid properties and phase equilibria



Mark A. McHugh, Ph.D. Publication







Dr. McHugh earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 1981. He is currently a Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). He was an Assistant Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Notre Dame from 1981 till June 1985 and an Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor at the Johns Hopkins University from July 1985 till August 1999. His research group has exploited the underlying physics and chemistry of supercritical fluid (SCF)-assisted technologies to create materials with unique morphology and function not attainable by other means. His group utilizes high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) techniques and an experimental design to reveal fundamental solution property information at a molecular level. His group has coupled HPHT solution techniques with dynamic light scattering and small angle neutron scattering techniques to modulate and identify molecular interactions between the components in solution at extreme operating conditions. The group utilizes a design protocol that systematically varies both the molecular structure of the SCF solvent and the solute of interest. The information generated in this research provides a stringent test of contemporary solution theories and computer simulations developed to predict phase behavior and other fluid properties. During his career, he has secured approximately $4 million of corporate funding and approximately $4 million of government funding for his research program. He has graduated 13 PhD students and 19 MS students and has had four visiting foreign faculty colleagues work in his laboratories. He has mentored more than 12 Postdoctoral Research Associates, several of which who have gone on to successful academic careers. He currently has published more than 150 peer-reviewed manuscripts, one book, and he has been awarded seven patents. Professor McHugh was awarded Emeritus status in December 2015, although he currently maintains a fully operational laboratory in the Chemical and Life Science Engineering (CLSE) Department staffed with a full-time Research Professor, a Postdoctoral Researcher, and a PhD graduate student all supported with external research funds. His current research interests are the measurement and prediction of viscosity, density, phase behavior, interfacial tension, and thermal properties at extreme operating conditions up to 3,000 bar and 300°C.

Industry Expertise (2)

Education/Learning Research

Areas of Expertise (4)

High-Pressure Fluid Properties and Phase Equilibria Polymer Solution Behavior at High Pressures Scattering Phenomena in Polymer Solutions at High Pressures Supercritical Fluid Solvent Technology

Accomplishments (5)

Finalist for the 2014 Institution of Chemical Engineers Global Awards,

Core Chemical Engineering Category; Team Members: Isaac Gamwo (ORD), Robert Enick (NETL-RUA), Mark M c Hugh (VCU), Deepak Tapriyal (URS), and Ward Burgess (ORISE)

Distinguished Scholarship Award, August 2014

Virginia Commonwealth University

Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching in Chemical and Life Science Engineering

Engineering Student Council

Visiting Professor, Lehrstuhl für Thermische Verfahrenstechnik

Friedrich-Alexander- University, Erlangen-Nuremberg, May-Dec. 2007

Kipping Visiting Professor

Chemistry Department, University of Nottingham, March 1996

Education (2)

University of Delaware: Ph.D., Chemical Engineering 1981

Carnegie-Mellon University: B.S., Chemical Engineering 1975

Affiliations (4)

  • American Chemical Society : Polymers Material Science & Engineering Division
  • American Chemical Society : Polymer Chemistry Division
  • American Physical Society : High Polymer Physics
  • Journal of Supercritical Fluids : Editorial Advisory Board

Patents (3)

Impregnation of oxygen carrier compounds into carrier materials providing compositions and methods for the treatment of wounds and burns

WIPO/PCT Patent WO 2015/047991 A1

2 April 2015

Ward, K.M., Mc Hugh, M.A., and R.R. Mallepally

Cigarette filters

US Patent 8,201,564

19 June 2012

Mc Hugh, M.A., Karles, G., Gee, D., Banyasz, J.L., Shen, Z., and M. Mishra

Method of producing fibers by electrospinning at high pressure

U.S. Patent 7,935,298 B2

3 May 2011

Mc Hugh, M.A., Shen, Z., Gee, D., Karles, G., Nepomuceno, J., and G. Huvard

Selected Articles (5)

Silk fibroin aerogels: potential scaffolds for tissue engineering applications Biomedical Materials


Silk fibroin (SF) is a natural protein, which is derived from the Bombyx mori silkworm. SF based porous materials are extensively investigated for biomedical applications, due to their biocompatibility and biodegradability. In this work, CO2 assisted acidification is used to synthesize SF hydrogels that are subsequently converted to SF aerogels. The aqueous silk fibroin concentration is used to tune the morphology and textural properties of the SF aerogels. As the aqueous fibroin concentration increases from 2 to 6 wt%, the surface area of the resultant SF aerogels increases from 260 to 308 m(2) g(-1) and the compressive modulus of the SF aerogels increases from 19.5 to 174 kPa. To elucidate the effect of the freezing rate on the morphological and textural properties, SF cryogels are synthesized in this study. The surface area of the SF aerogels obtained from supercritical CO2 drying is approximately five times larger than the surface area of SF cryogels. SF aerogels exhibit distinct pore morphology compared to the SF cryogels. In vitro cell culture studies with human foreskin fibroblast cells demonstrate the cytocompatibility of the silk fibroin aerogel scaffolds and presence of cells within the aerogel scaffolds. The SF aerogels scaffolds created in this study with tailorable properties have potential for applications in tissue engineering.

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CO2-assisted synthesis of silk fibroin hydrogels and aerogels Acta Biomaterialia


Biocompatible and biodegradable porous materials based on silk fibroin (SF), a natural protein derived from the Bombyx mori silkworm, are being extensively investigated for use in biomedical applications including mammalian cell bioprocessing, tissue engineering and drug delivery applications. In this work, low-pressure, gaseous CO2 is used as an acidifying agent to fabricate SF hydrogels. This low-pressure CO2 acidification method is compared to an acidification method using high-pressure CO2 to demonstrate the effect of CO2 mass transfer and pressure on SF sol-gel kinetics. The effect of SF molecular weight on the sol-gel kinetics is determined using the low-pressure CO2 method. The results from these studies demonstrate that low-pressure CO2 processing proves to be a facile method for synthesizing 3-D SF hydrogels.

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Effect of isomeric structures of branched cyclic hydrocarbons on densities and equation of state predictions at elevated temperatures and pressures Journal of Physical Chemistry B


The cis and trans conformation of a branched cyclic hydrocarbon affects the packing and, hence, the density, exhibited by that compound. Reported here are density data for branched cyclohexane (C6) compounds including methylcyclohexane, ethylcyclohexane (ethylcC6), cis-1,2-dimethylcyclohexane (cis-1,2), cis-1,4-dimethylcyclohexane (cis-1,4), and trans-1,4-dimethylcyclohexane (trans-1,4) determined at temperatures up to 525 K and pressures up to 275 MPa. Of the four branched C6 isomers, cis-1,2 exhibits the largest densities and the smallest densities are exhibited by trans-1,4. The densities are modeled with the Peng-Robinson (PR) equation of state (EoS), the high-temperature, high-pressure, volume-translated (HTHP VT) PREoS, and the perturbed chain, statistical associating fluid theory (PC-SAFT) EoS. Model calculations highlight the capability of these equations to account for the different densities observed for the four isomers investigated in this study. The HTHP VT-PREoS provides modest improvements over the PREoS, but neither cubic EoS is capable of accounting for the effect of isomer structural differences on the observed densities. The PC-SAFT EoS, with pure component parameters from the literature or from a group contribution method, provides improved density predictions relative to those obtained with the PREoS or HTHP VT-PREoS. However, the PC-SAFT EoS, with either set of parameters, also cannot fully account for the effect of the C6 isomer structure on the resultant density.

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Pressure assisted stabilization of biocatalysts at elevated temperatures: characterization by dynamic light scattering Biotechnology and Bioengineering


The effect of pressure, at elevated temperatures, is reported on the activity and stability of a thermophilic endo-β-glucanase from the filamentous fungus Talaromyces emersonii. The production of reduced sugars after treatment at different temperatures and pressures is used as a measure of the activity and stability of the enzyme. The activity of the enzyme is maintained to higher temperatures with increasing pressure. For example, the relative activity of endo-β-glucanase decreases to 30% after 4 h at 75°C and 1 bar, whereas it is preserved at 100% after 6 h at 75°C and 230 bar. High-pressure dynamic light scattering is used to characterize the hydrodynamic radius of the enzyme as a function of pressure, temperature, and time. At higher temperature the hydrodynamic radius increases with time, whereas increasing pressure suppresses this effect. Changes in the hydrodynamic radius are correlated with the activity measurements obtained at elevated pressures, since the changes in the hydrodynamic radius indicate structural changes of the enzyme, which cause the deactivation.

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Synthesis and characterization of low surface energy fluoropolymers as potential barrier coatings in oral care Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A


A series of low surface energy fluorinated homopolymers and copolymers has been synthesized and characterized using thermal, optical, spectroscopic, and chromatographic techniques. Their utility as barrier technologies in oral care has been considered, and aqueous nanosuspensions of the materials have been deposited as films on model dental hard surfaces in the presence and absence of a salivary pellicle. Calcium hydroxyapatite has been used as a model for enamel, as has PMMA due to its widespread use in denture fabrication. Surface energy determinations, combined with XPS studies, have provided insights into the molecular-level organization at the surface of the film structures. Studies of solubility in supercritical carbon dioxide have identified the polymers that are suitable for processing in this medium.

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