Vol 7. Issue 22 / July 30, 2007

Renowned Chemist Roy Periana Joins Scripps Florida

Internationally recognized chemist Roy A. Periana has been appointed professor of chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute's Florida campus.

"Professor Periana's expertise will add substantial value to our ongoing efforts in developing more efficient synthetic methodologies in chemistry," said Scripps Research President Richard A. Lerner. "His research will enhance our ability to make new medicines to benefit human health. In addition, it will allow Scripps Florida to move in a timely manner into the critical areas of energy and alternative fuels, a stated interest of the Governor Charlie Crist and the people of Florida. We expect strong and enthusiastic support for this important research will come from both philanthropic and government organizations."

Periana is a graduate of the University of Michigan and obtained his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, working with Professor Robert Bergman. His background ranges from co-founder of Catalytica Advanced Technologies in Northern California's Silicon Valley to most recently professor of chemistry at the University of Southern California and its Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute. 

He is a world leader in the chemistry of the carbon-hydrogen (CH) bond and coordination catalysis, a field in which he was one of the 20th century's original investigators. Professor Periana has a strong publication record highlighted by three publications in Science, and substantial funding from both industrial and government sources. 

In addition to research on the CH bond, Dr. Periana's focus will be on the five small molecules that provide the bulk of energy and materials on Earth:  methane (CH4), oxygen (O2), nitrogen (N2), water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2).

"There are fundamental gaps in the chemistry of these small molecules that lead to substantial inefficiencies in energy and material production on the planet," he said.  "Indeed, the chemistry of these molecules has been referred to as the 'Holy Grail,' because the low temperature chemistries have yet to be developed."

The bonds of methane and nitrogen are among the strongest known. As a result, Periana explained, high temperature chemistry in use today for the conversion of methane to electricity leads to an approximately 400 percent greater rate of consumption and carbon dioxide emissions than is required from fossil fuel.

"In the case of nitrogen, the source of fertilizer for 40 percent of the world's population, we use outdated, high temperature technology that utilizes about one percent of the world's energy," he said. "If we can develop lower temperature chemistry for these bonds, substantial improvements could be developed that would significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions, allow the vast underutilized resources of natural gas to be converted to methanol as an alternative to petroleum, as well as store energy in CO2 by efficient conversion to methanol."


Send comments to: mikaono[at]scripps.edu



Professor Roy Periana is a leader in the chemistry of the carbon-hydrogen bond and coordination catalysis. Photo by Bruce Hibbs.