Constantly Driven by Curiosity

Pradeep Jain

Senior Fellow, The Dow Chemical Company

Passionate about Experimentation

To be a successful engineer, you need to be intuitive, curious, tenacious and almost dogged as you search for solutions.

Pradeep Jain is a process technologist and one of the world’s leading experts in polyethylene production. His success is rooted in an insatiable curiosity that goes back to his childhood. He was the type of kid who thrived on taking things apart and figuring out how they work. In graduate school, he began working on cars and it’s still one of his favorite hobbies today, whether it’s repairing his son’s Land Cruiser or adding underbody lights to his convertible.

“If I wasn’t a process technologist at Dow, I would probably be designing cars,” Pradeep said. “When I’m at home, I’m always working on our cars. Sometimes I lose track of time and before I know it, I’ve been tinkering out in the garage for eight hours.”

Pradeep’s passion for figuring out how things work was central to his career choice as a scientist, even though it wasn’t what his father had expected or hoped for. “When I was growing up in India, my father wanted me to be a doctor,” Pradeep said. “But early on, I knew it wasn’t for me. Medicine seemed so routine, and obviously, you can’t experiment with people. So I was drawn to engineering, where there is ample freedom to experiment. I’m still passionate about practicing experimentation today.”

Working to Make a Difference

During his 25-year career at Dow, Pradeep has worked on process technology development for some of the Company’s most profitable plastics. He is one of the early pioneers of molecular catalyzed polyethylene resins, known as INSITE™ polyolefin plastomers and elastomers. Pradeep is also the primary inventor and developer of a novel reactor technology for olefin solution polymerization. This technology is currently used to produce more than two-thirds of Dow’s 10-billion pound capacity of various polyethylene products.

Looking back to his early career, Pradeep credits one of his first mentors, Che-I Kao, for teaching him how to make a difference. “Che-I Kao was like a father figure to me,” Pradeep said. “He taught me to look ahead, anticipate adversity and act to eliminate it.”

That advice still motivates Pradeep today, as he works on a difficult challenge in the polyethylene market. “We are in a good position today in polyethylene, because Dow is a major supplier in a tight market and demand has been growing,” Pradeep said.

“However, other suppliers are expanding to take advantage of cheaper raw materials, and a lot more capacity will be coming online in the next three to four years,” he said. “That presents us with an incredible challenge, and it’s the most exciting part of my job. As a process technologist, I’m working to further improve our polyethylene processes at Dow so we can make better products for less – and compete with the products coming online in the future.”

Pradeep admits the challenge may seem daunting at times, but that’s when his natural curiosity takes over. “To be a successful engineer, sometimes you have to be intuitive, curious, tenacious and almost dogged as you search for solutions,” he said. “That’s the advice I give to young engineers and scientists, including my own son, who is studying electrical engineering. It is critical to understand what it takes to make a difference.”

By the way, when it came to his son’s career choice, Pradeep was much like his own father and wanted him to be a doctor. But Pradeep’s son has inherited his father’s passion for experimenting, so he is following in his footsteps and is studying electrical engineering and computer science. However, Pradeep’s daughter may fulfill her father’s and grandfather’s dream of having a doctor in the family. Even though she is a talented artist, Pradeep’s daughter is thinking about combining her artistic abilities with physiology and is planning to study medicine. When that time comes, Pradeep will make sure her car is ready for the journey.

Awards

AIChE Process Development Practice Award, 2014

R&D 100 awards, 1994, 1999, 2005 and 2009

Dow President’s Special Achievement Award, 1993 and 1999

Excellence in Technical Development Cramer Award, 1998

Dow Excellence in Science Award, 1993

23 Dow Technology Center Awards from 1990 to present

Associations

American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)

US 8,816,006: Compositions of ethylene/a-olefin multi-block interpolymer suitable for films

US 8,475,933: Interpolymers suitable for multilayer films

US 8,153,243: Interpolymers suitable for multilayer films

US 7,863,379: Impact-modification of thermoplastics with ethylene/alpha-olefin interpolymers

US 6,982,311: Films produced from substantially linear homogeneous olefin polymer compositions

US 6,908,968: Narrow molecular weight distribution, compositionally optimized ethylene interpolymer composition, process for making the same and article made therefrom

US 6,906,141: Polymer blend and fabricated article made from diverse ethylene interpolymers

US 6,812,289: Interpolymer compositions and cast stretch film therefrom

US 6,723,398: Polyethylene composition with improved properties and process to make such composition

US 6,683,149: Narrow molecular weight distribution, compositionally optimized ethylene interpolymer composition, process for making the same and article made therefrom

US 6,469,103: Narrow molecular weight distribution, compositionally optimized ethylene interpolymer composition, process for making the same and article made therefrom

US 6,451,916: Broad molecular weight distribution, compositionally uniform ethylene interpolymer compositions, process for making the same and articles made therefrom

US 6,420,516: Finishing design to increase the polymer content in an olefin solution polymerization process

US 6,319,989: Broad molecular weight distribution, compositionally uniform ethylene interpolymer compositions, process for making the same and articles made therefrom

US 6,005,053: Polyolefin elastomer blends exhibiting improved properties

US 5,977,251: Non-adiabatic olefin solution polymerization

US 5,863,665: Extrusion compositions having high drawdown and substantially reduced neck-in

US 5,849,823: Homogeneously branched ethylene/alpha-olefin interpolymer compositions for use in gasket applications

US 5,792,534: Polyolefin compositions exhibiting heat resistivity, low hexane-extractives and controlled modulus

US 5,773,155: Extrusion compositions having high drawdown and substantially reduced neck-in

US 5,773,106: Polyolefin compositions exhibiting heat resistivity, low hexane-extractives and controlled modulus

US 5,747,594: Polyolefin compositions exhibiting heat resistivity, low hexane-extractives and controlled modulus

US 5,582,923: Extrusion compositions having high drawdown and substantially reduced neck-in

WO 2014106017 A1: A polyolefin composition

WO 2014058639 A1: Sealant composition

WO 2013169466 A1: Multi-additive delivery system

US 20120095158 A1: Ethylenic polymer compositions and molded materials therewith

US 20120088893 A1: Polymerization process for olefin-based polymers

US 20110306715 A1: Olefin block copolymer composition with low tack

US 20110086963 A1: Processes to control fouling and improve compositions

US 20110105802 A1: Continuous loop flow process for polyether polyols production

US 2007010616 A1: Impact modification of thermoplastics with multi-block ethylene/a-olefin interpolymers

WO 2001032771 A1: Polymer blend and fabricated article made from diverse ethylene Interpolymers

WO 1999009096 A1: Blown films produced from substantially linear homogeneous olefin polymer compositions, and blow molding of olefin polymer blends

WO 1997036942 A1: Exothermic, controlled-flow olefin solution polymerization system and process

WO 1996016119 A1: Extrusion compositions having high drawdown and substantially reduced neck-in

Zhang, Min; Jain, Pradeep; Karjala, Thomas W.; Carlos, Villa; “Theoretical modeling of average block structure in chain-shuttling α-olefin copolymerization using dual catalysts,” Macromolecules, 46(12), pp 4847-4853, 2013

Zhang, Min; Karjala, Thomas W.; Jain, Pradeep; “Modeling of α-olefin copolymerization with chain-shuttling chemistry using dual catalysts in stirred-tank reactors: Molecular weight distributions and copolymer composition,” Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 49(17), 8135-8146, 2010

Zhang, Min; Carnahan, Edmund M.; Karjala, Thomas W.; Jain, Pradeep; “Theoretical analysis of the copolymer composition equation in chain shuttling copolymerization,” Macromolecules, 42(21), 8013-8016, 2009

Dhodapkar, Shrikant; Jain Pradeep; Manjunath, Konanur; “Design safer solids processing plants,” Chemical Engineering, 114(1), 34-39, 2007

Kale, L. T.; Plumley, T. A.; Patel, R. M.; Jain, P., Redwine, O.D.; “Structure-property relationships of ethylene/1-octene and ethylene/1-butene copolymers made using INSITE™ Technology,” Journal of Plastic Film & Sheeting, 12, 27-40, 1996

Patel, R. M.; Sehanobish, K.; Jain, P.; Chum, S.P.; Knight, G.W.; “Theoretical prediction of tie-chain concentration and its characterization using post-yield response,” Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 60, 749, 1995

Jain, Pradeep; Wilkins, E.S.; “Cellulase immobilized on modified nylon for saccharification of cellulose,” Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol. 30(9), 1057-1062, 1987

Keynote Address, “Role of pilot plants in development and successful commercialization of process technology,” AIChE NorCal Process Development Symposium, San Jose, California, 2014

Invited Talk, “All the buzz about process intensification and energy efficiency as seen through Dow lens”, AIChE Process Development Symposium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2014

“Importance of right analytical tool for the right purpose: Case study of polymer process development,” Mettler-Toledo Technical Symposium on R&D and Manufacturing for Polymers, Fuels, and Chemicals, Houston, Texas, 2014

Invited Talk, “Advances in polyolefins industry – Opportunities for chemical engineers,” University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2013

“Design limits of commercial polymerization reactors,” Annual AIChE Conference, San Francisco, California, 2013

Invited Talk, “Achieving product differentiation through innovations in polymerization catalysts and processes,” Annual AIChE Conference, San Francisco, California, 2013

“Manipulating thermodynamics to achieve process intensification: A case study of polymer based systems,” Annual AIChE Conference, San Francisco, California, 2013

“Low energy solvent separation in solution polymerization processes,” 4th AIChE Regional Process Technology Conference, League City, Texas, 2012

“Process innovation,” ChemInnovations, Houston, Texas, 2010

“Modeling of α-olefin copolymerization with chain-shuttling chemistry using dual catalysts in stirred-tank reactors, 21st International Symposium on Chemical Reaction Engineering, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2010

“Polyethylene: An account of scientific discovery and industrial innovation,” Abstracts of Papers, 236th American Chemical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2008

“How to design and construct a pilot plant to provide maximum value,” AIChE Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2007

“New polyethylenes for targeted performance based applications,” Polyolefins X, International Conference, Houston, Texas, 1997

“Development and applications of the INSITE™ Technology kinetic-reactor model,” Reaction Engineering V: Advanced Modeling and Measurement Techniques, St. Augustine, Florida, 1995

“Structure-property relationships of ethylene/1-octene and ethylene/1-butene copolymers made using INSITE™ Technology,” Annual Technical Conference - Society of Plastics Engineers, 1995

“Development of immobilized enzyme on different supports for saccharification of lignocellulosic materials,” 10th Symposium of the Rocky Mountain Fuel Society, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1985