Nicknamed the "father of catalytic combustion," Pfefferle invented the original catalytic combustor for gas turbine engines in the early 1970s. Gas turbines used to provide thrust for jet aircraft and generate electricity work by mixing fuel with compressed and heated air, which then burns and generates energy to turn the turbines. Unfortunately, nitrogen oxide gases, which contribute to global warming, are emitted during this process. Pfefferle has developed a process that uses a catalyst a substance used to speed up a chemical reaction to allow combustion without the significant formation of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide.
Pfefferle, who cofounded Precision Combustion in 1986, has dedicated his career to developing clean and efficient technologies for combustion engines. He has also invented the Microlith(r) catalytic reactor for automobiles and fuel processing and the RCL™ catalytic combustor for ground-power gas turbine machines.
Pfefferle received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Drexel University and a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. He holds 90 U.S. patents and has several pending.
The American Chemical Society's Industrial Innovation Awards recognize individuals and teams whose discoveries and inventions contribute to the commercial success of their companies and enhance our quality of life.