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His career started with an apprenticeship as a laboratory assistant at the Duisburg copper works before he studied chemical engineering at the engineering school in Essen and then chemistry in Dortmund and Clausthal. He received his diploma from the University of Dortmund in 1970 and his PhD (Dr. rer. nat., inorganic chemistry) in 1973. After this he worked as a scientific coworker in Dortmund before he became a private lecturer and, after his habilitation, an assistant professor.
Gmehling was appointed a full professor for technical chemistry at the University of Oldenburg in 1989 and retired in 2011.
Fields of research
Gmehling's main focus is the process development. This includes the development of software for process synthesis and process simulation as well as measurement, collection, and estimation of thermophysical properties of pure components and component mixtures. The following list summarizes fields of his scientific work but is in no way complete.
- Phase equilibrium data (vapor-liquid equilibria, liquid-liquid equilibria, solid–liquid equilibria, gas solubilities, heats of mixing, activity coefficients and more)
Gmehling began in the 1970s with the systematic evaluation of the scientific literature, aiming to build a data bank for vapor-liquid equilibria. These data were needed for the development of a new method for the prediction of activity coefficients named UNIFAC. This data bank is still named the Dortmund Data Bank,.
Development of estimation and correlation models
Gmehling developed with colleagues models for the estimation of several thermodynamic and thermophysical properties:
- Activity coefficient models like UNIFAC (see also group contribution method) and extensions. For the further development of these widely used methods Gmehling founded an industry consortium where many international companies are participating.
- Equations of state (EOS) including mixing rules for applying EOS to mixtures (see PSRK).
The following implementation of his methods are also developments:
- an expert system for the entrainer selection for the azeotropic and extractive distillation
Gmehling has published scientific articles and books.
Selection of scientific articles
- Horstmann S., Fischer K., Gmehling J., "Isothermal Vapor-Liquid Equilibrium and Excess Enthalpy Data for the Binary Systems Water + Sulfolane and Methanol + N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone", J.Chem.Eng.Data, 49(6), 1499–1503, 2004
- Joh R., Kreutz J., Gmehling J., "Measurement and Prediction of Ternary Solid–Liquid Equilibria", J.Chem.Eng.Data, 42(5), 886–889, 1997
- Gruber D., Topphoff M., Gmehling J., "Measurement of activity coefficients at infinite dilution using gas-liquid chromatography. 8. Results for 22 solutes in tetraethylene glycol dimethyl ether and 18 solutes in triethylene glycol dibutyl ether at 303.15 K and 343.15 K", Eldata Int.Electron.J.Phys.-Chem.Data, 3, 215–224, 1997
- Gmehling J., Weidlich U., "Die Dortmunder Datenbank. Basis für die Weiterentwicklung der UNIFAC-Methode", Chem.Ing.Tech., 57(5), 447–449, 1985
- Fredenslund Å., Gmehling J., Michelsen M.L., Rasmussen P., Prausnitz J.M., "Computerized Design of Multicomponent Distillation Columns Using the UNIFAC Group Contribution Method for Calculation of Activity Coefficients", Ind.Eng.Chem. Process Des.Dev., 16(4), 450–462, 1977
- Weidlich U., Gmehling J., "A Modified UNIFAC Model. 1. Prediction of VLE, hE, and gamma Infinite", Ind.Eng.Chem.Res., 26(7), 1372–1381, 1987
- Holderbaum T., Gmehling J., "PSRK: A Group-Contribution Equation of State based on UNIFAC", Fluid Phase Equilib., 70, 251–265, 1991
- Möllmann C., Gmehling J., "Auswahl selektiver Zusatzstoffe für die Rektifikation durch kombinierten Zugriff auf experimentelle und vorausberechnete Gleichgewichtsdaten", Chem.Ing.Tech., 69(3), 324–328, 1997