National Medal of Technology and Innovation
For an extraordinary record of innovations in improving the energy efficiency and reducing the cost of gas liquefaction and separation. These innovations have had significant positive impacts on electronic device manufacturing, liquefied gas production, and the supply of industrial gases for diverse industries.
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Country of BirthIndia
Key ContributionsProcess For Producing Ultra High Purity Gases and Liquifying Natural Gas
Awarded byBarack Obama
EducationUniversity of Delaware
Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Areas of ImpactEnergy & Environment
Rakesh Agrawal received his bachelor’s in chemical engineering before coming to the US to complete a master’s at University of Delaware and Ph.D. at MIT in the same field. After graduating with his PhD, Agrawal moved to the private sector and worked on a series of unsolved chemical engineering problems, changing the fortunes of several industries along the way.
During a long career at Air Products and Chemicals, Agrawal worked in gas separation, contributing several major discoveries and even uncovering a series of general principles for the field. His work on ultra-high-purity gases for microchip fabrication helped AP&C corner the market and his research into liquid natural gas radically improved the capacity and efficiency of LNG plants, changing the economics of the fuel’s large-scale production.
In 2004, Agrawal left AP&C to become a distinguished professor at Purdue University. He and his lab now work exclusively on renewable energy production and storage, studying nanoparticle inks in solar cell manufacturing and the repurposing of agricultural waste as a carbon replacement.
By Casey Samulski