FIU chemist Alexander Mebel was not too long ago chosen as a fellow of the Combustion Institute.
A theoretician, Mebel makes use of quantum mechanics and quantum chemistry to assist develop extra environment friendly combustion processes. By altering mere inputs in laptop simulations, Mebel might help predict how fuels will burn and what pollution they may produce with out having to run pricey experiments.
He is extensively often known as an professional within the discipline and is maybe most acknowledged for calculating how a lot vitality and what specific merchandise are produced throughout the progress of a chemical response relying on the response situations, like temperature and stress.
“Because I selected to explore the important reactions of immediate and central interest to combustion, it made an impact on the area,” Mebel mentioned.
For these vital contributions to the quantum mechanical calculations of potential vitality surfaces of complicated response programs, the Combustion Institute selected him as a 2021 fellow. Founded in 1954, the Combustion Institute is a global group that promotes and disseminates research actions in all areas of combustion science and expertise.
Mebel’s research runs the gamut from combustion reactions going down right here on Earth to these occurring elsewhere within the photo voltaic system. On Titan, a moon of Saturn, Mebel studied how polycyclic fragrant hydrocarbons or PAHs shaped in such a frigid atmosphere. Generally, combustion scientists wish to keep away from the formation of PAHs as a result of they’re pollution.
Much of his work on PAHs is primarily funded by U.S. Department of Energy grants. Since becoming a member of FIU in 2003, his grants have been renewed six instances.
Despite the latest proliferation of electrical autos and different applied sciences meant to scale back the necessity for fossil-fuel produced vitality, Mebel mentioned there’s a vivid future for combustion.
The cleanest combustion of all, Mebel mentioned, makes use of hydrogen for gasoline and produces water as exhaust.
“Water is not a greenhouse gas and hydrogen combustion doesn’t produce carbon emissions,” he mentioned. “But there are lots of technological difficulties to overcome before hydrogen gas can be stored efficiently enough for it to become viable.”
Thinking again on the beginning of his profession as a Ph.D. pupil in Russia, Mebel had designs on receiving such accolades.
“I was just interested in science because doing science and research is always fun,” Mebel mentioned. It is artistic. It’s rewarding when it comes to feeling that you simply solved some downside and also you be ok with that — particularly if the issue is expounded to one thing vital like cleansing our surroundings or a discovery about chemistry within the universe.”