2019-10-26: Science Cafe Seminars

Science Café Seminars

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Los Angeles City College
Room Chem 3

855 N. Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Seminar 1
10:00 am -11:00 am
Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol EconomyR
(Focusing on Carbon)
G. K. Surya Prakash, Ph.D.
Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute

Seminar 2
11:00 am—12:00 noon
Did Mendeleev Drink Tap Water?
Paul A. Rochelle, Ph.D.
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Lunch: Free Pizza 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm

Seminar 1 (10:00 am to 11:00 am):
G. K. Surya Prakash, Ph.D.

Professor and George A. and Judith A. Olah
Nobel Laureate Chair in Hydrocarbon Chemistry
Chairman, Department of Chemistry
Director, Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute
University of Southern California
837 Bloom Walk
Los Angeles, CA 90089-1661, USA

Abstract: Methanol, a liquid at ambient temperature, is preferable to low volumetric energy density hydrogen gas for energy storage and transportation. It is also an excellent drop in fuel for internal combustion (gasoline) and auto-ignition (diesel) engines. It is an excellent fuel for direct oxidation fuel cells. Dimethyl ether (DME) derived from methanol is a high cetane diesel substitute and also could replace liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Methanol is a convenient feedstock to produce ethylene and propylene that can be converted to synthetic petrochemical products. Chemical recycling of excess carbon dioxide formed from human activities, natural and industrial sources, or even from the air can be converted to methanol via capture followed by reductive conversion with hydrogen. Any available energy source (preferably alternative energies such as solar, wind, geothermal, atomic, etc.) can provide the needed energy for generating hydrogen. Direct electrochemical reduction of CO2 is also possible. Methanol, presently produced from fossil fuel-based syngas (mixture of CO and H2), can also be made by direct oxidative conversion of natural gas or other methane sources. Even coal and biomass can be converted to methanol through syngas. The Methanol Economy concept that was jointly developed with the late Nobel Laureate colleague, George A. Olah is expected to solve the energy and material problems of the world in the long run and at the same time address the issue of global warming due to increased CO2 emissions by excessive fossil fuel use by efficient “Carbon Neutral Energy Cycles.” If carbon is the problem, carbon has to be the solution!

Biography: Professor Surya Prakash was born in 1953 in Bangalore, India. He holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in Chemistry from the Bangalore University and a M.Sc. from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras. He obtained his Ph. D. in chemistry under the tutelage of late Professor Olah (1994 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry) at the University of Southern California (USC) in 1978. He joined USC faculty in 1981 and is currently a Professor and Director holding the Olah Nobel Laureate Chair in Hydrocarbon Chemistry at the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute. He also serves as the Chairman of the Chemistry Department at USC. His research encompasses superacid, hydrocarbon, synthetic organic, organosilicon and organofluorine chemistry, with particular emphasis in the areas of energy, greenhouse gas abatement and catalysis. He is a Co-Proponent of the Methanol Economy Concept based on carbon dioxide capture and recycling. He co-invented the direct oxidation methanol fuel cell. He has trained more than 125 doctoral and post-doctoral scholars. He is a prolific author with > 800 peer-reviewed publications holding > 100 patents. He has published 14 books. He has received many awards and recognitions including the American Chemical Society Awards: the 2004 Creative Work in Fluorine Chemistry, the 2006 George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry, the 2006 Richard C. Tolman Award (from the Southern California section of the American Chemical Society) and the 2018 Late Career Cope Scholar Award. He has also received the 2007 Distinguished Alumni Award from his alma mater, IIT- Madras and the 2010 CRSI Medal from the Chemical Research Society of India. He has co-shared with the late Professor Olah, the inaugural $1 Million the 2013 Eric and Sheila Samson Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation in Alternative Fuels for Transportation by the State of Israel. In 2015, he won the Henri Moissan International Prize for excellence in Fluorine Chemistry. He is a Fellow of the AAAS, a Member of the European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, a Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences, Foreign Fellow of National Academy of Sciences, India and a Fellow of the American Chemical Society. He also sits on Editorial Boards of several International Journals. Professor Prakash’s book, co-authored with G. A. Olah and A. Goeppert, “Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy” (Wiley-VCH, 2006 and 2nd Edition, 2009, 3rd Expanded Edition 2018, translated into Chinese, Hungarian, Japanese, Swedish and Russian) is getting worldwide attention.

Seminar 2(11:00 am to 12:00 noon)

Paul A. Rochelle, Ph.D.
Microbiology Unit Manager
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Title: Did Mendeleev Drink Tap Water?

Abstract: Mendeleev was born in a small village close to the Tobol and Irtysh Rivers in Siberia. These rivers are the lifeblood of a vast region, serving the transport, economic, and drinking water needs of millions of people. They are impacted by industrialization, pollution, diversion, damming for hydroelectric power, and a changing climate that alters rainfall patterns. These same stressors have and continue to impact major rivers in the western United States. But state and federal regulations, and water industry practices in the U.S. provide protection for sources of drinking water, ensure adequate treatment to remove contaminants, and prepare for future threats to the quality of drinking water.

Mendeleev published his first periodic table in 1869 and many of the issues that occupy water quality professionals today are represented by elements that appeared on that first table- calcium, carbon, chlorine, lead, manganese, oxygen, and even uranium. Coincidentally, 1869 also marked the birth of Mary Mallon, later to be known as “Typhoid Mary”. The microbe she carried, Salmonella typhi, was responsible for thousands of deaths from contaminated drinking water prior to the introduction of routine disinfection with chlorine- Group VII on Mendeleev’s 1871 version of his periodic table.

This presentation will review the links between a variety of chemical elements and the quality of drinking water, the impacts of elements and their compounds on source waters, and speculate on the water that Mendeleev was probably drinking.

Biography: Dr. Paul Rochelle is the Microbiology Unit Manager in the Water Quality Section at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. He has undergraduate degrees in biology and microbiology and a Ph.D. in environmental microbiology. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He has authored or co-authored over 70 papers and book chapters on environmental microbiology, application of molecular methods, and various water quality issues. His research has been funded by the USEPA, USDA, WERF, and the Water Research Foundation, for projects on pathogen detection, UV and ozone disinfection of pathogens, development and application of Cryptosporidium infectivity assays, microbial source tracking, and microbiological aspects of drinking water treatment. He has served on many water industry committees and expert panels covering topics such as pathogens in distribution systems and premise plumbing, cyanotoxins, EPA’s Contaminant Candidate List, EPA’s pathogen health assessments, and validation of molecular methods for indicator monitoring in environmental waters.
His responsibilities at Metropolitan include overseeing compliance with federal and state drinking water regulations, the reservoir management program, all aspects of source water microbiology, pathogen monitoring (Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and viruses), cyanotoxin monitoring and control, and managing invasive mussels. He also co-authored the microbiological monitoring and testing plan for Metropolitan’s demonstration-scale 0.5 MGD recycled water plant, which will start operating in fall 2019, and he will oversee evaluation of pathogen removal efficiency during the testing period.

RSVP: This event and the pizza are free but we do need a head count for pizza. Please email Nancy in the Section Office at office@scalacs.org and let her know if you can attend. RSVP by October 24th.

Directions and Parking:  Please park in Lot 4 off of Heliotrope Drive. A campus map and directions can be found at https://www.lacitycollege.edu/About-LACC/Campus-Maps-Parking/Campus-Map.