Chiang led clean coal research and directed the Pittsburgh Coal Conference

Chemical Engineering Emeritus Professor Shiao-Hung Chiang — whose influential work on clean coal processes led to their wide use and several patents, and who directed the Pittsburgh Coal Conference for decades (1973-1999) — died Dec. 14, 2022, at 94.

“He certainly brought notoriety to the school through his research work, and he was certainly very well known not only throughout the school but the entire University,” said former departmental colleague George Klinzing, now an emeritus instructor. “He had the highest respect as a faculty member in the school. He always stood for the highest standards in the academic field.”

Klinzing assisted with Chiang’s most prominent grant-supported study on the LICADO coal-cleaning process, which uses liquid carbon dioxide as the agent. Chiang led the basic and applied research, which included building a pilot plant unit to prove the principle.

In his large, funded projects involving coal beneficiation — the filtration of fine coal — Chiang had Ph.D. and M.S. candidates, undergraduates and even high-school students in his laboratory, Klinzing said. “He had lots of good advice for everybody — not only me but the technicians. He was a senior counselor to all the junior faculty.”

Chiang was interim chair of his department for two years, traveled extensively to technical meetings all over the world and produced many scientific publications. In his work, he teamed not only with other faculty but also with government employees and those in industry concerning energy, coal and mass transfer basics.

He was active in the American Filtration Society and an officer in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and received an honorary degree from Wuhan University in China.

As executive chair of the Pittsburgh Coal Conference — a forum for exchange of technical information and policy issues among industry, government and academic participants — he worked to internationalize it by bringing the gathering to other countries.

Shiao-Hung Chiang was born in Suzhou, China, earned his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at the National Taiwan University (1952), his master’s degree at Kansas State (1955) and his Ph.D. at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) (1958), working there with Professor Herb Toor on basic mass transfer.

After being employed for several years at the Linde Corporation in Buffalo, N.Y., Chiang joined the Pitt faculty in 1960 and rose to the position of full professor. 

During his time at the University he enjoyed a strong rapport with the technicians in the department, Klinzing said; they worked with him closely in the design and construction of novel and innovative experimental apparatus to study a variety of physical and chemical principles, including radioactive tracers. He served on the University Radiation Safety Committee for many years, and took a sabbatical at Cambridge.

Chiang is survived by three children, Annette (Eric Hsiung), currently conducting research in Pitt’s Department of Biological Sciences; Grace; and Justin, and grandchildren Alexander Chiang, Lauren Chiang, Benjamin Hsiung and Emmy Hsiung.

— Marty Levine