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Workshop / Seminar

CHE 598 Seminar: Crystal Engineering Approaches to Water Treatment

Spark 335 - Pullman Campus TCIC 221 - Tri-Cities Campus
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About the event

SPEAKER: Michael Reynolds, Senior Principal Science Expert, Shell Catalysts and Technologies


Michael A. Reynolds is the Senior Principal Science Expert for Shell Catalysts and Technologies, where he leads programs for catalyst development in conventional refining and projects for the energy transition. Since 2012, he has served as an Adjunct Professor at Rice University in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (Houston, Texas). In this capacity he serves on student doctoral committees and provides lectures on special topics. Dr. Reynolds has developed catalysts for upgrading heavy oil into liquid fuels, for distillate hydroprocessing, and for hydroconversion of renewable feedstocks. Prior to his current role, Dr. Reynolds spent ten years in Shell’s Shales business as a production chemist where he supported oilfield developments in west Texas, Canada, and Argentina for hydraulic fracturing and water treatment. His current research interests include renewable hydrocarbons, hydrogen, and applications of crystal engineering to new materials.


Acid-insoluble inorganic scales such as the sulfates of calcium, barium, and strontium are problematic contaminants that are commonly encountered in pipelines and water treatment facilities. These biominerals have low solubilities in water (Ksp < 10-10) and are resistant to changes in pH, temperature, and flow conditions. In addition to these issues, naturally occurring radium-226 can co-crystallize within these scales leading to radioactive hazards. Most methods for remediation involve abrasive mechanical milling techniques that can damage equipment and increase maintenance costs for well or water processing operations. A more advantageous option would be to apply chemicals that can either inhibit scale formation, or dissolve scale that has already precipitated. Yet, few viable chemical options are commercially available. This presentation will focus on an approach to studying scale formation and remediation using the concept of a lab-on-a-chip. Recent results from laboratory studies of new chemical inhibitors and dissolvers based on green chemistry motifs will be introduced.  A goal of this presentation is to introduce the scientific community to these challenges and to demonstrate the power of collaborative research with university partners.