Information for

Mark Pritzker


Mark PritzkerDegrees

  • BEng, McGill University
  • MSc, University of California, Berkeley
  • PhD, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Research interests

Electrochemical engineering

Metal and alloy electrodeposition

We are investigating the use of Direct Current (DC) and pulse plating for electrodeposition of metal and alloy coatings. Our efforts include experimental studies and mathematical modeling of aspects such as deposit morphology, electrode response and electrode reaction kinetics. One of our particular focuses has been on the application of much higher frequencies during pulse current and pulse reverse plating than has typically been used in electrodeposition research. Experimental techniques used in this research include voltammetry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, rotating disk and rotating ring-disk analyses, chronoamperometry, chronopotentiometry, scanning electron microscopy, scatterometry, interference microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, etc. The electrodeposition systems studied include copper deposition from acidic sulphate solutions, Sn-Pb and Ni-Fe alloy coatings and a number of ternary alloy systems. Of particular interest is the effect of organic additives on the electrodeposition process and in developing mathematical models to predict their effects on electrode response and deposit properties. A number of our projects are linked to applications in microelectronics fabrication, e.g., damascene plating of copper, interconnects, soldering, etc.

Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells and solid oxide fuel cells fuel cells

Recently, I have begun collaborations with colleagues in our department on Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC) and Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC). This research consists of both experimental and modeling studies. On the topic of PEM fuel cells, research is underway with Professor Michael Fowler to investigate the interplay between the electrode reactions and the formation and transport of water through the various cell components, i.e., gas diffusion layers, electrolyte and electrodes. I have been doing research on solid oxide fuel cells with my colleague Professor Eric Croiset. Our efforts have focused primarily on developing comprehensive mathematical models for the operation and design of SOFC cells, although we have recently combined this with some experimental work. Among the topics of interest are improvements in transport of O2 to the cathode, reduction of the cathode overpotential, the use of syngas rather than pure H2 as a fuel and alleviation of problems associated with the use of syngas, e.g., carbon deposition at the anode.


Another area of interest in the area of nanotechnology in the development of novel methods using electrochemical techniques for the fabrication of nanostructures (e.g., nanowires). This research is being conducted in collaboration with Professor Pu Chen of our department. A current project is aimed at fabricating metal nanowires through the combined use of modified self-assembling oligopeptides and electrochemical reduction. The oligopeptide which contains a functional residue with a high affinity for certain metal ions serves as a template to immobilize the metal ions in the desired pattern. This is followed by electrochemical reduction of the metal ion to metallic form. The experimental techniques being used for this research include atomic force microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, axisymmetric drop shape analysis, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, etc.

Process modeling

Leaching, adsorption and ion exchange processes

A number of important heterogeneous processes involving particles in fluid streams proceed topochemically and are marked by the inward movement of reaction fronts through porous layers within the particles. A number of models such as the shrinking core model have proven very successful in describing the rates of such processes. Leaching, sorption and ion exchange are examples of processes that fall in this category. Although each process has its unique features, there exist a number of phenomena common to various topochemical systems, e.g., relation between the evolving particle geometry and the intraparticle reaction and transport phenomena. The most common approach in analyzing the rates of such processes has been to fit various accepted models to experimental data in a largely empirical manner. This approach has been useful in obtaining relatively simple equations that describe the rate data, but does not provide much insight into the phenomena occurring within the reacting particles and has no predictive capability. Over the years, we have carried out numerous modeling studies on a number of leaching, sorption and ion exchange processes with the objective of explicitly incorporating the known reaction mechanisms for these systems and transport phenomena within the framework of the moving reaction front.

Simulation and optimization of oriented strand board manufacturing

Oriented Strand Board (OSB) is a panel product composed of wood flakes bound with resin and is used in a wide variety of applications including commercial and residential construction and renovation, furniture and shelving. In the manufacturing process, a loose mat composed of wood, air, bound water, water vapour and resin is pressed is first deposited and then pressed between heated platens to form a consolidated panel. In recent years, we have collaborated with another colleague, Prof. Hector Budman, to develop mathematical models and carry out simulation and optimization studies on different aspects of OSB manufacturing. Some of our effort has focused on developing models for OSB pressing and incorporating momentum, energy and mass balances for the various components of the system in order to predict the evolution of temperature and pressure within the panels during processing. This has been compared to actual plant data obtained from an industrial sponsor and collaborator. Such information is important not only for model validation but also for understanding a number of phenomena observed during pressing (e.g., delamination) and the factors that influence the properties of the finished wood panels. Models have been developed for both the batch and continuous modes of OSB manufacturing. Recently, we have carried out an optimization study using a genetic algorithm to search for operating conditions to maximize the rate of production, while maintaining adequate mechanical properties within the board. Another research project has focused on the mat formation step prior to pressing since this plays a crucial role in determining many of the final properties of the OSB panel. We have developed a model that relates input parameters such as flake dimension distribution, flake orientation distribution, target density and fines content to the horizontal density distribution, vertical density profile and strength of the panel characterized by the modulus of elasticity in bending. This approach is unique in that these phenomena are directly linked to the temperature, pressure and moisture profiles developed within the OSB panels during pressing on the basis of our pressing models described above.

Selected references

  • Suwanwarangkul, R., Croiset, E., Pritzker, M.D., Fowler, M.W., Douglas, P.L. and Entchev, E., "Mechanistic Modelling of a Cathode-Supported Tubular Solid Oxide Fuel Cell", submitted to J. Power Sources.
  • Lee, C.W.B., Budman, H.M. and Pritzker, M.D., "Simulation and Optimization of the Continuous Oriented Strand Board Pressing Process", submitted to Industrial Engineering Chemistry Research.
  • Tantavichet, N. and Pritzker, M., "Effect of Plating Mode, Thiourea and Chloride on the Morphology of Copper Deposits Produced in Acidic Sulphate Solutions", accepted by Electrochimica Acta.
  • Pritzker, M., "Shrinking Core Model for Multispecies Uptake Onto an Ion Exchange Resin Involving Distinct Reaction Fronts", accepted by Separation and Purification Technology.
  • Pritzker, M.D., "Modified Shrinking Core Model for Uptake of Water Soluble Species onto Sorbent Particles", Advances in Environmental Research, 8 (2004) 439-453.
  • Fenton, T.E., Budman, H., Pritzker, M., Bernard, E. and Broderick, G., "Modelling and Simulation of an Oriented Strand Board Manufacturing Process", Industrial Engineering Chemistry Research, 42 (2003) 5229-5238.
  • Liu,Y. and Pritzker, M.D., "Effect of Pulse Plating on Composition of Sn-Pb Coatings Deposited in Fluoroborate Solutions", J. Applied Electrochemistry, 33 (2003) 1143-1153.
  • Tantavichet, N. and Pritzker, M.D., "Low- and High-Frequency Pulse Current and Pulse Reverse Plating of Copper", J. Electrochemical Society, 150 (2003) C665-C677.
  • Pritzker, M.D., "Model for Parallel Surface and Pore Diffusion of an Adsorbate in a Spherical Adsorbent Particle", Chemical Engineering Science, 58 (2003) 473-478.
  • Pritzker, M., "Pore Transport-Controlled Shrinking-Core Systems Involving Diffusion, Migration and Homogeneous Reactions. II. Application of Model for PbSO4-Carbonate System to Experimental Data", Metallurgical and Materials Transactions B, 31B (2000) 693-703.
  • Pritzker, M., "Pore Transport-Controlled Shrinking-Core Systems Involving Diffusion, Migration and Homogeneous Reactions. I. Formulation of Model and Rate Equation for PbSO4-Carbonate System", Metallurgical and Materials Transactions B, 31B (2000) 683-691.
University of Waterloo