Four Argonne researchers earn international honors

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Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

Four senior researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have received international recognition for their groundbreaking work in combustion science and technology. Chemists Lawrence Harding, Albert Wagner, Stephen Klippenstein and James Miller have been inducted as fellows of The Combustion Institute.

Founded in 1954, The Combustion Institute is an international educational and scientific society that publicizes and distributes research in all areas of combustion science and technology. As members of the international community of combustion researchers, Harding, Wagner, Klippenstein and Miller were recognized by their peers "as distinguished for outstanding contributions to combustion" in research or applications. The Combustion Institute established the Fellows Program in March 2017.

"The fact that four Argonne principal investigators are among the inaugural class clearly shows the important role that the U.S. Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences funding has played in developing a deep understanding of the chemistry of combustion." — Stephen Klippenstein, Argonne Distinguished Fellow in theoretical chemistry

"Larry, Al, Stephen and Jim are outstanding scientists whose pioneering work in fundamental theoretical chemistry has led to significant advances in our ability to describe and predict the behavior of the chemical reactions involved in combustion," said Stephen Pratt, senior chemist and leader of the Gas-Phase Chemical Dynamics Group within the Chemical Sciences and Engineering division.

"The fact that four Argonne principal investigators are among the inaugural class clearly shows the important role that the U.S. Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences funding has played in developing a deep understanding of the chemistry of combustion," said Klippenstein, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow in theoretical chemistry.

Lawrence Harding

Harding, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow in the Chemical Sciences and Engineering division at Argonne, is one of the world leaders in the calculation of global potential energy surfaces for chemical reactions. These surfaces can be used to describe the energetics of molecules as they make their way from reactants to products in a chemical reaction. Such surfaces lie at the heart of chemical dynamics and chemical kinetics calculations; the accuracy of the calculation of the detailed shape of the potential energy surfaces determines the accuracy of the resulting predictions.

Harding has made key calculations on potential energy surfaces for many reactions relevant to hydrocarbon combustion and has helped make predictive theoretical chemistry a powerful tool in combustion research. He was the 2014 winner of the Combustion Institute's Bernard Lewis Gold Medal, which recognizes brilliant research in the field of combustion.

Albert Wagner

Wagner, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow in the Chemical Sciences and Engineering division at Argonne, focuses his research on theories of reaction dynamics and chemical kinetics, in particular as they relate to combustion. He has also made key advances in how to treat quantum mechanical tunneling, which can be important in the reactions of hydrocarbon molecules.

Wagner has a long history of developing the connections between theoretical predictions and experimental observations, which has led to considerable advances in scientists' ability to accurately calculate the rates of elementary chemical reactions. With these rates, chemical kinetic modelers can make much more accurate predictions of the behavior of combustion systems.

Stephen Klippenstein

Klippenstein studies theoretical gas-phase chemical kinetics, targeting issues in combustion chemistry, interstellar chemistry and atmospheric chemistry. He is credited with making key discoveries in treating the kinetics of barrierless reactions and in developing techniques to calculate chemical kinetic rates and products.

Klippenstein's detailed theoretical studies have contributed to the understanding of radical oxidation and of the formation of pollutants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides. He joined the Gas-Phase Chemical Dynamics Group at Argonne in 2005 after serving on the faculty in the Chemistry Department at Case Western Reserve University from 1989 to 2000 and at Sandia National Laboratories from 2000 to 2005. Klippenstein received the O.W. Adams Award for Outstanding Achievement in Combustion Science at Sandia.

James Miller

Miller spent his career at the Combustion Research Facility at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California, and came to Argonne as an Argonne Associate after he retired from Sandia. He is one of the world's premier combustion modelers. In particular, he was one of the key developers of the CHEMKIN suite of programs for chemical kinetic modeling, a powerful tool that is widely used in both academia and industry.

Miller is also known for making revolutionary advances in the modeling of nitrogen chemistry in combustion, as well as for his work in soot formation and theoretical chemical kinetics. He has been awarded numerous honors for his work in combustion modeling, including the Combustion Institute's 2006 Bernard Lewis Gold Medal and election to the National Academy of Engineering.

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