Education

B.S., M.S., South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Ph.D., University of Texas

Contact/Location

david.dixon@sdsmt.edu
(605) 394-1235
CBEC 2209 (campus map)
Research Expertise

Dr. Dixon’s current primary research is in the area of applied alternative energy generation, including a focus on solar PV/Thermal energy generation as well as waste heat energy recovery. This work includes using and developing models that can help better understand ways to make the systems work more efficiently, as well as determining ways to best optimize the systems based on varying energy needs and requirements. Another area of research is focused on using natural media to remove arsenic and other heavy metals from natural and waste water sources. The federal standard for arsenic in drinking water was lowered from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb in 2006. This research is attempting to develop and commercialize a low-cost, effective solution, especially targeted to remediation in mining waste water sources as well as rural drinking water systems. Previous research projects have been in the areas of polymer modifications, with a particular focus on use of supercritical fluids as solvents or non-solvents.  A part of this research studied how adjusting the supercritical fluid properties or processing conditions may be used to tailor the specific polymer-fluid interactions, which subsequently then allowed for a specific polymer modification. Past work has examined polymer dyeing, surface modification, and foaming using supercritical CO2. Additionally, work was focused on using high pressure CO2 or mechanical/physical/ chemical pretreatment to create certain specific changes in natural polymer matrices. Use of twin-screw extrusion was studied for biomass pretreatment, prior to conversion to ethanol.  Other work was centered on formation and characterization of modified tri-block copolymer membranes for barrier materials to gaseous chemical warfare agents. Enhanced water vapor permeation was also a desired feature of these barrier membranes. Funding for this research has come from sources such as, the Department of Defense (USAF and Army), the National Science Foundation, the EPA, and industrial sponsors.

Brief Bio

Dr. Dixon attended and graduated from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology with BS and MS degrees in Chemical Engineering. During his BS studies he was awarded a ROTC scholarship and after graduation spent more than 4 years on active duty with the US Army, primarily in Germany and CONUS, as an engineering officer. He worked for the Dow Corning Corporation as a Development Engineer in process engineering.  After earning his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Austin in Austin, TX, he began his academic career at SDSMT. Currently he is a faculty member in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department. Previously he has served as the department chair, and was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant, where he taught and developed a university level partnership with the Technische Universität Darmstadt, in Germany. He works with SDSMT students to setup short-term and longer study abroad opportunities, including most recently helping senior ChE students attend an Advanced Design Project course with our industrial chemistry partners at the TU Darmstadt. Dr. Dixon is an active member and has held leadership roles within professional organizations such as AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) and the ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education). He continues to serve as an active member on the National Chem-E-Car Competition organizing committee.

Teaching

Dr. Dixon has had the opportunity to teach nearly all of the core courses and laboratories offered within the BS ChE curriculum as well as some of the core MS courses. Most recently he offers courses including; equipment design and safety, equilibrium separations, process control, capstone senior design, and a short-term study abroad capstone senior design course. He has a passion for finding new ways to deliver chemical engineering course material and innovative chemical engineering laboratory experiences. His work has examined how design and process simulation can be integrated across the chemical engineering curriculum, with increased learning and knowledge retention. Novel, hands-on, design-simulate-build-test laboratories were developed through NSF and industrial funding. State-of-the-art process control and data acquisition computer systems continue to be integrated throughout the laboratory. Currently he is an undergraduate advisor and one of two department transfer advisors. 

Course Listing