Georgian Court University Research Aims to Improve the Environment

Dr. Prasad Lakkaraju and four GCU students are researching ways to convert carbon dioxide into non-harmful chemicals and fuels

 

 

Contributed content by Nicole Bitette

As problems associated with global warming persist, a Georgian Court University professor and chemistry students are cautiously working to find solutions. Their approach? Look for efficient ways to convert carbon dioxide into chemicals and fuels that cause no harm to the environment.

Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide has been a result of the industrial revolution and the consumption of fossil and bio-fuels from human activity has resulted in a surge of carbon dioxide production into the atmosphere, GCU Associate Professor of Chemistry Prasad Lakkaraju, Ph.D., explains.

Now, Dr. Lakkaraju and four GCU students are conducting experiments that will, hopefully, better the environment in coming years.

“Ultimately, our work will lead to green methods of making very useful chemicals such as formic acid, oxalic acid and ethylene glycol,” he said. “We plan to use solar energy for these chemical conversions.”

Dr. Lakkaraju began researching the possibility of green methods back in 2006, and after many unsuccessful experiments, his research finally began to see positive results.

“The key to success is probably not giving up,” he explained. Dr. Lakkaraju holds several patents for his processes.

GCU chemistry students, Brittany Olejarz ‘15, Brittany Piercy ‘15, Michael Marinaro ‘14 and Robert Wetzel ‘14 have been essential to the project.

"By performing chemistry experiments that have discovery as the main objective, the students come to an understanding of how research impacts progress of science in particular and humanity in general.

Dr. Prasad Lakkaraju (third from right)

GCU chemistry professor

The students conducted the experiments almost entirely on their own, Dr. Lakkaraju explained, adding that his duty was mainly to make sure each experiment was conducted safely and accurately. After each experiment, Dr. Lakkaraju would plan next steps based on their results.

Faculty-student research is a win-win
GCU graduate Michael Marinaro prepares materials for a chemistry experiment while Brittany Olejarz looks on.

GCU graduate Michael Marinaro prepares materials for a chemistry experiment while Brittany Olejarz looks on.

Researcher Robert Wetzel graduated this past May and will be attending Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. Michael Marinaro, also a 2014 graduate who earned his GCU biochemistry degree in just three years, landed a job with Bentley Laboratories in Edison. Brittany Olejarz and Brittany Piercy will continue to assist Dr. Lakkaraju with his research until their graduation in May of 2015.

“I am proud of what they accomplished over the last one year. Research is an integral part of undergraduate education,” he expressed. “By performing chemistry experiments that have discovery as the main objective, the students come to an understanding of how research impacts progress of science in particular and humanity in general.”

Liquid Light Chemicals (http://llchemical.com/) in Kendal Park has been funding the research for the past year. GCU was awarded a grant of $21,000 to use their research and assist the company in developing viable synthetic processes.

The next two years will be pivotal for the team, according to Dr. Lakkaraju. Eventually, he hopes their research will create viable and renewable green methods of synthesizing chemicals that help improve human life.

Although the scientific process moves at a slow pace, Dr. Lakkaraju said it is worth it because research findings can ultimately change the world.

Read more about the GCU Chemistry Department and Dr. Lakkaraju’s experience, publications and research interests, at http://www.georgian.edu/chemistry/faculty/lakkaraju.htm.

Dr. Prasad Lakkaraju and four GCU students are researching ways to convert carbon dioxide into non-harmful chemicals and fuels

 

 

Contributed content by Nicole Bitette

As problems associated with global warming persist, a Georgian Court University professor and chemistry students are cautiously working to find solutions. Their approach? Look for efficient ways to convert carbon dioxide into chemicals and fuels that cause no harm to the environment.

Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide has been a result of the industrial revolution and the consumption of fossil and bio-fuels from human activity has resulted in a surge of carbon dioxide production into the atmosphere, GCU Associate Professor of Chemistry Prasad Lakkaraju, Ph.D., explains.

Now, Dr. Lakkaraju and four GCU students are conducting experiments that will, hopefully, better the environment in coming years.

“Ultimately, our work will lead to green methods of making very useful chemicals such as formic acid, oxalic acid and ethylene glycol,” he said. “We plan to use solar energy for these chemical conversions.”

Dr. Lakkaraju began researching the possibility of green methods back in 2006, and after many unsuccessful experiments, his research finally began to see positive results.

“The key to success is probably not giving up,” he explained. Dr. Lakkaraju holds several patents for his processes.

GCU chemistry students, Brittany Olejarz ‘15, Brittany Piercy ‘15, Michael Marinaro ‘14 and Robert Wetzel ‘14 have been essential to the project.

"By performing chemistry experiments that have discovery as the main objective, the students come to an understanding of how research impacts progress of science in particular and humanity in general.

Dr. Prasad Lakkaraju (third from right)

GCU chemistry professor

The students conducted the experiments almost entirely on their own, Dr. Lakkaraju explained, adding that his duty was mainly to make sure each experiment was conducted safely and accurately. After each experiment, Dr. Lakkaraju would plan next steps based on their results.

Faculty-student research is a win-win
GCU graduate Michael Marinaro prepares materials for a chemistry experiment while Brittany Olejarz looks on.

GCU graduate Michael Marinaro prepares materials for a chemistry experiment while Brittany Olejarz looks on.

Researcher Robert Wetzel graduated this past May and will be attending Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. Michael Marinaro, also a 2014 graduate who earned his GCU biochemistry degree in just three years, landed a job with Bentley Laboratories in Edison. Brittany Olejarz and Brittany Piercy will continue to assist Dr. Lakkaraju with his research until their graduation in May of 2015.

“I am proud of what they accomplished over the last one year. Research is an integral part of undergraduate education,” he expressed. “By performing chemistry experiments that have discovery as the main objective, the students come to an understanding of how research impacts progress of science in particular and humanity in general.”

Liquid Light Chemicals (http://llchemical.com/) in Kendal Park has been funding the research for the past year. GCU was awarded a grant of $21,000 to use their research and assist the company in developing viable synthetic processes.

The next two years will be pivotal for the team, according to Dr. Lakkaraju. Eventually, he hopes their research will create viable and renewable green methods of synthesizing chemicals that help improve human life.

Although the scientific process moves at a slow pace, Dr. Lakkaraju said it is worth it because research findings can ultimately change the world.

Read more about the GCU Chemistry Department and Dr. Lakkaraju’s experience, publications and research interests, at http://www.georgian.edu/chemistry/faculty/lakkaraju.htm.

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