Centennial Professor of Chemical Engineering, Emeritus
Ph.D., Math. University of Melbourne (Australia), 1980
B. Math. (First Class Honors) University of Newcastle (Australia), 1976
Research Interests:My students and I do research in surface chemistry. Surface chemistry includes the phenomena of adsorption, adhesion, contact angles and wetting, capillarity, self assembly, monolayers and thin films, emulsions and foams, fine particle technology, friction and lubrication, soiling and detergency and the relationship of bulk to surface properties of materials. Past projects in our Surfaces Laboratory have ranged from studies in high vacuum to liquid-liquid emulsions. Current projects include:
- Location, configuration and flow of fluids in wet unsaturated porous media. We have found a way to move water, and other fluids, held in wet "unsaturated" porous media through surfactant-generated capillary pressure gradients within the system. The ability to move water this way has applications to many industrial drying and dewatering operations, as well as to environmental remediation without expensive pump and treat processes. Studies of both model and real systems are underway.
- Surfactant spreading on liquid surfaces. The spreading of surfactants over thin liquid films has applications as diverse as wave-damping and effective operation of the human lung. We are making a systematic study of the kinetics of surfactant spreading as determined by the magnitudes of equilibrium spreading pressure, substrate viscosity and substrate film thickness. Kinetic models for spreading and Gibbs Marangoni flow have been developed and are being tested.
- Complexes of surfactant monolayers with heavy metal ions in solution. We are interested in determining whether monolayer films spread on water surfaces can act as scavengers for heavy metal ions in solution. An investigation has been made of vinyl ether monolayer complexes with aqueous solutions of silver ions. Evidence of complexation has been obtained from film balance studies of changes in monolayer surface area and surface potential, and from analysis of Langmuir-Blodgett (L-B) films with Rutherford back scattering spectroscopy.
- Tribology and tribochemistry. A long-term interest in the effects of mechanical abrasion on surface properties has led to studies of mechanically activated chemisorption, lubricant durability, etc. But our most recent work has involved studies of stick-slip sliding and led to a new proposed mechanism for stick-slip. Understanding how surfaces interact when they are rubbed together is important - a very significant part of the world's energy resources appear ultimately as some form of friction and/or wear.
Tu, C-F and T. Fort, "A Study of Fiber-Capstan Friction. I. Stribeck Curves," Tribology International, 37, 701 (2004).
Tu, C-F and T. Fort, "A Study of Fiber-Capstan Friction. II. Stick-Slip Phenomena," Tribology International , 37, 711 (2004).
Song, S., Lu, S., Zhang, Y., Lopez-Valdivieso, A., and T. Fort, "Aggregation Rate of Fine Particles in Turbulent Flows," J. Dispersion Science and Technology , 25, 67 (2004).
Karkare, M.V. and T. Fort, "Effect of Temperature on Surfactant-Driven Water Movement in Wet Unsaturated Sand," Langmuir 18, 2190 (2002).
Silverstein, D. L., and T. Fort, "Prediction of Water Configuration in Wet Unsaturated Porous Media, " Langmuir, 16, 839 (2000).
Silverstein, D. L., and T. Fort, "Incorporating Low Hydraulic Conductivity in a Numerical Model for Predicting Air-Water Interfacial Area in Wet Unsaturated Porous Media," Langmuir, 16, 835 (2000).
Silverstein, D. L., and T. Fort, "Prediction of Air-Water Interfacial Area in Wet Unsaturated Porous Media," Langmuir , 16, 829 (2000).
Letts, S.A., and T. Fort, "Monolayer Polymerization of Octadecyl Acrylate. I. Characterization of the Reaction Products," J. Colloid Interface Sci. 202, 341, (1998).