ORGANIC GEOCHEMISTRY: ENERGY & ECOLOGY
Prof. Zeev Aizenshtat
The basic common denominator for this group is organic geochemistry, chemical ecology and an interdisciplinary approach to both fuels and environment related subjects. The extensive use of fuels and the need for petrochemicals have created a global ecological impact. Therefore, the aims which this group has set forth for the new millennium are: to develop analytical tools, to interact in international projects set up to solve disasters, such as petroleum spills, and to improve fossil fuels and motor-oils.
The technological-economical pendulum, moving from energy to ecology, has dictated the changes in focus of our applied research.
Until 1988, the group's main efforts were directed towards the development of innovative processes for combustion and fuels production from Israeli bituminous rocks. Due to the significant lowering of petroleum prices, we have concentrated, during the last decade on bioremediation of petroleum spills, applying previous studies on the Solar Lake cyanobacterial mats. The thermal behavior of polymers and brominated compounds (fire retardants) were also of interest, as part of the environmental need to incinerate refuse from Israeli industry and urban waste.
The transport of organic pollutants into water reservoirs and related subjects were investigated. The presence of organic matter in the phosphate ores of the Negev causes coloration of the superphosphates, as well as of the phosphoric acid produce. Economically, it is important to develop new and environmentally accepted procedures based on scientific knowledge of the type of organic matter and its chemical behavior under acidic conditions. In the course of studies intended for the ecological improvement of motors-oils, the group developed new catalysts (with Prof. Ronny Neumann, now at the Weizmann Institute) of the polyoxometalates family. Highly sophisticated analytical instrumentation for the study of natural mixtures of compounds and isotopic ratios (?34S, ?13C and others) of bulk and single compounds, is now available to the group. This equipment enables us to be involved in organic archeology (asphalts of the Dead Sea, "Apharsemon" oil, Komeran scrolls, etc.).
The above activities have yielded several patents, 120 reports to funding agencies and industries, and 160 refereed papers in international journals.
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