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Alvin converse

Alvin O. Converse

Professor of Engineering, Emeritus


Al Converse served on Thayer School's regular faculty from 1963 to 2000. Before that he taught chemical engineering at Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Queensland University, Brisbane, Australia. Then Converse found himself attracted to the broad nature of Thayer's engineering sciences program: "I liked Thayer School's engineering sciences approach and its stress on creative engineering design."

In addition to spearheading Thayer School's research program in the use of enzymes to convert biomass to ethanol, Converse was instrumental in shaping the School's curriculum during the 1960s. He has taught courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level in transport phenomena, chemical reactor design, and energy conversion. "There is a great deal of overlap between the various fields of engineering," said Converse. "At Thayer School we've had a unique opportunity to develop courses that are important to many different fields."


Chemical engineering; reactor design; enzyme and chemical kinetics; cellulose hydrolysis; energy technology.


  • BS, Chemical Engineering, Lehigh University 1954
  • MS, Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware 1959
  • PhD, Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware 1961

Selected Publications

  • "Renewable energy in the US, is there enough land?" Accepted for publication in App'd. Biochem. Biotech. (2007)
  • "The impact of large-scale energy storage requiresments on the choice between electricity and hydrogen as the major energy carrier in a non-fossil renewables-only scenario". Energy Policy 34 (2006) 3374-3376
  • with Xia Li and Charles Wyman, "Characterization of molecular weight distribution of oligomers from autocatalyzed batch hydrolysis of xylan", App'd. Biochem. Biotech. 105-108 (2003) 515-522
  • with Gray, M. C. and C.E.Wyman "Sugar Monomer and Oligomer Solubility", Appl'd Biochem. Biotechnol., 105-8 (2003) 179-193
  • Bioresource Technology 81 (2002) (109-116)


  • Cross-flow process for the production of decomposable soluble products from a slurry of solids (6,632,286)
  • Cyclone reactor (4,818,295)
  • Process for hydrolysis of biomass (4,556,430)

Professional Activities

  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers