Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Denver, CO - Encouraging innovative research on chemical catalysis, Rob Hart, Head of R&D at Shepherd Chemical, delivered a keynote address to a crowd of over 250 chemists from academia, industry, and government at the 2017 North American Catalysis Society Meeting in Denver, Colorado on Wednesday, June 7th.
Did you know that by 2030, the world will need 45% more energy? Similar to our core purpose at Shepherd Chemical, the chemical industry’s challenge is to create value and brighten lives by improving energy production, economic development, and job creation while also ensuring environmental sustainability. Dr. Hart addressed the standing-room only crowd as Chair of the American Chemistry Council’s Working Group on Catalysis, which was tasked in 2014 with the objective of elevating public and private sector interest in advancing R&D associated with improving the top energy-consuming catalytic processes.
Starting with a creative thought experiment, Dr. Hart asked the crowd to imagine what it was like to live millions of years ago, when massive mammals roamed the Earth. “Have you ever seen a glypotodon? Brainstorm with the person sitting beside you why not.” The room erupted with conversion as everyone reflected on the simultaneous increase in human population and extinction of giant mammals. “Two key moments in human history,” remarked Dr. Hart, “have led to huge population increases for humans: the first was the growth of the human brain, which allowed us to hunt big mammals like the glyptodon, and the second was the discovery and use of fossil fuels for energy, which led to the industrial revolution.”1 Just as the intelligence to hunt big mammals transformed the landscape of the Earth, the extraction of fossil fuels provides the energy needed for higher-quality living and at the same time challenges us to innovate and ensure the sustainability of new practices like shale gas extraction.
Natural gas found in shale formation is made of thousands of tiny molecules called hydrocarbons. Methane, ethane, and butane are some of these hydrocarbons. America’s chemical industry takes the hydrocarbons and transforms them into high-value materials that serve as key building blocks for a range of industrial and consumer products. Significant benefits are possible through the discovery of more efficient ways to convert shale-derived feedstocks into higher-value products for the chemical sector and dependent sectors. Dr. Hart concluded his keynote address by advocating for public and private investment in a collaborative hub focused on game-changing research in hydrocarbon conversion. His key question for the crowd was: “Are you in?”
If you are interested in learning more about the insights, innovations, and impacts of the chemical industry, you can explore the interactive website https://essential2.com/.