Third DOE/Basic Energy Sciences Separations
Savannah DeSoto Hilton, Savannah, Georgia
May 12-14, 1999
DOE Chemical Sciences Viewpoint
Dick Gordon & Paul Maupin
DOE Division of Chemical Sciences
Dr. Gordon began his address with a few notes on items of direct interest to the principal investigators in the Separations Area. This included:
- The Bullet Shootout, in which 5 sentence summaries of research highlights vie for top position in BES.
- The development of an institutional memory of accomplishments from the history of the Separations program over the past 25 years will be gathered and published appropriately . To quote the request letter," We are seeking all of the examples of consequences of your work, or that of your past or present colleagues. These could be:
- Commercialization of your ideas or developments,
- Incorporation of your research to a scientific application that has been beneficial to society, or
- Any development that has led to paradigm-changing understanding, or to the progress of scientific application or practice."
The DOE staff will find this input very useful during budget cycles and publicizing the achievements of the office. The corporate memory is especially need because of the nature of the office, where there are "rotators" passing through the program every few years.
- It is important in preparing proposals that you state clearly what you are trying to learn, as opposed to only describing what you are going to do. Experience has been that proposals that list planned activities do not review well. The PI should always make clear what is to be learned by planned activity. New questions generated by your work are as important as your accomplishments and should be openly discussed.
- The heavy emphasis on rotators in the office was addressed. Dr Gordon has two years remaining in his term at Chemical Sciences. The office is currently staffed by two non-federal assignees. Since this has been a long-term situation, a good corporate memory is necessary. Item 2, above, is an attempt to address this deficiency. On the positive side, it maintains a steady flow of new ideas to the office and generates excellent contacts for the office as well as the rotator.
Dr. Maupin discussed the nature of the programs in the office emphasizing the long-term nature of the work. The best science possible is the goal of the programs in the offices. Along with this objective is a commitment to refereed publication and peer review of programs.
Dr. Gordon expressed a concern that openness on the problems and "ignorance" that serve as the very soul of science was less than had been hoped for from this group and opened a discussion on the more important ones suggested by the workshop. Some of the ones suggested are:
- Fundamental mechanisms of self-assembly are not understood. Though NIH is funding some work in this area, self-assembly has an important place in separations. Research in separations could impact the NIH sponsored tasks by providing scattering data and calculations of free energies.
- A question was posed about the application of irreversible thermodynamics and irreversible statistical mechanics, which, in principle, can allow treatment of transport phenomena. This area may deserve more attention from the separations community.
- Modeling behavior of mixed systems.
- There are inadequate facilities for Neutron scattering studies in the US. Neutron scattering studies will likely be of great value to advancing the understanding of processes driven by small energy differences, such as self-assembly and polymer relaxation.
- How does dispersion/coalescence take place?
- Glassy materials used in membrane separations exhibit hysteresis and perturbations cause reorganization and free volume change.
- There is a need for improved methods to characterize amorphous materials. Wide-angle scattering is good, but the inverse problem of obtaining structure form scattering data is difficult. There is only a small investment in scattering of amorphous materials in the U.S. However, anyone doing research in soft materials and fluids should be interested in scattering.
- NMR on 1012-13 spins would be helpful for chemistry of surfaces. Dr. Botto announced that he has organized a Symposium on NMR in Complex Systems for the upcoming ACS meeting, 8/22-26, 1999 in New Orleans. The symposium is designed to address the user community rather than the NMR specialist. Attendance was encouraged.
- Long range forces between complex molecules and the mechanisms of molecular recognition are not understood.