Researchers at Northwestern University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory will partner with scientists and engineers at five major chemical companies in a unique Internet-facilitated collaboration to study the essential chemical process by which pollutants can be neutralized at their source or in the environment.
A new Institute for Environmental Catalysis will be established at Northwestern with a five-year, $7.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. The federal funds will be augmented by an additional $4.8 million in cost-sharing from the State of Illinois and the university. DOE also awarded $1 million to Argonne for its collaboration in the institute.
"An improved understanding of just one type of catalytic reaction -- the oxidation of organic, or carbon-based, compounds -- could reduce the environmental impact of an incredibly wide range of human activities," said Peter C. Stair, professor of chemistry at Northwestern and director of the institute.
Researchers at Northwestern, including student researchers performing experiments at the bench, will be linked electronically to industrial scientists at Allied Signal, Dow Chemical, Engelhard Corp., Union Carbide, and UOP Research Center. The companies have offered staff and resources, and in some cases student internships, to augment the research effort.
"The role of the corporate partners is not financial sponsorship, but intellectual collaboration," Stair said. "Their scientists and engineers will work with our faculty and students to study these environmentally important processes in real-life situations."
The high-tech link between the university, industry and government researchers
is a new Internet-based laboratory communication tool called a "collaboratory,"
or electronic laboratory notebook, developed at Pacific Northwest. Electronic
access to instruments, data and laboratory notebooks, as well as computer
Contact: Bill Burton