Russell Dean Ostermann

School of Engineering - Chemical & Petroleum Engineering
Associate Professor
Director, Petroleum Engineering Program Interim Director TORP Associate Chair, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
Primary office:
Learned Hall
Room 4154
University of Kansas
1530 West 15th Street
Lawrence, KS 66045



Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, University of Kansas

B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Kansas



  • BS, Chemical Engineering, University of Kansas
  • PhD, Chemical Engineering, University of Kansas

Research Interests

I have worked primarily in the field of petroleum transport properties and phase behavior in the past. Research projects have involved viscosity measurement and prediction, reservoir phase behavior measurement and prediction, and enhanced oil recovery. In particular this work is aimed at understanding the phase behavior and flow properties of complex mixtures of hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon/CO2/H2O mixtures in petroleum reservoirs.

There is little difference between this environment and the porous environment encountered in groundwater contamination. In particular,contrasting with bioremediation of groundwater, the transport of nutrients, fuel sources, and cometabolites to bacteria and removal of respiration products are subject to many of the same processes encountered in petroleum applications.

My current work in bioremediation is focused on nutrient and moisture requirements for degradation of highly weathered oil field wastes. We are dealing with surface (landfarming) at this juncture. A field site is available a short drive from the University for our research. We are currently working in the laboratory, and plan on field work in the spring

Biochemical Engineering

I have additional research in the area of biochemical engineering looking at the production of ethanol by continuous fermentation with alcohol removal from the fermentation broth via extraction.

Ethanol is well known as an automotive fuel. It is in demand for blending with gasoline for "gasohol". Since it is produced as a bulk commodity, even minor increases in production efficiency are meaningful. One of the problems with fermentation as a production process is that alcohol is toxic to the yeast that produces it at concentrations over about 5%. If we can devise a way to remove alcohol directly from the reactor during fermentation, reactor efficiency can be increased.

We have discovered that biodiesel can be used as an extractant. It 1) forms a separate phase, 2) does extract at least some ethanol from water solution, and 3) is not toxic to yeast. It may be possible to simply market biodiesel with ethanol contained in it. If not, it is relatively easy to remove by vacuum distillation. This route may offer a way to slightly decrease the cost of ethanol production.

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Condensate Drain Pan for HVAC Units", Patent # 5,938,933, Mark Clover, Russell Ostermann.
  • "Petroleum Engineering Global Manpower Supply", 1999 SPE Annual Meeting, Houston, 1999.
  • "Enhancing Partnership Between Industry and Education: Roles for SPE", W.J. Lee, et al., SPE#39492, Proceedings of the SPE 1997 Annual Technical Conference and Exposition, San Antonio, Texas, Oct. 5-8, 1997. (I’m in the et al.)
  • Graham, David W., Vavilala, C., Smith, V.H., and Ostermann, R. D., "Acceleration of  Heavy Crude Oil Biodegradation in Soil Slurry Reactors ",paper 28e, AIChE 1996 Spring National Meeting, New Orleans, La., Feb. 25-29, 1996.
  • Graham, David W., Ostermann, Russell D., Vavilala, C., and V.H. Smith, "Acceleration of Heavy Crude Oil Biodegradation in Near Surface Soils", 1995 KU Environmental Research Symposium, Lawrence, Kansas, April 21, 1995.
  • R. D. Ostermann, "Review and Comparison of Oil and Gas Permitting Processes in Alaska, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Alberta", report for Center for Legislative Energy and Environmental Research, Energy Council, Irving, Texas, 1993.
  • K. Dehghani, S. Qadeer, R. D. Ostermann, D. Ogbe, "Correcting Oil-Water Relative Permeability Data for Capillary End Effect in Displacement Experiments", Particle Tech. Surface Phenom. in Min. Petr., Proc. of Fine Particle Society Symposium, San Diego, 1991, pp. 81-104.
  • RD Ostermann and M.J. Economides, "Pilot Plant Studies and Process Design for the Production of Calcium Magnesium Acetate", Industrial Chemistry Library, Volume 2, Calcium Magnesium Acetate ..., pp. 443-505, Elsevier, New York, NY, 1991.
  • M. Hornbrook, K. Dehghani, R. D. Ostermann, S. Qadeer, "Effects of CO2 Addition to Steam on Recovery of West Sak Crude Oil", SPE Reservoir Engineering, August 1991, pp. 278-87.

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