FIU chemist Alexander Mebel was just lately 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 pc simulations, Mebel may also help predict how fuels will burn and what pollution they may produce with out having to run pricey experiments.
He’s broadly often called an skilled within the discipline and is probably 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 circumstances, like temperature and stress.
“As a result of I chosen to discover the essential reactions of quick and central curiosity to combustion, it made an impression on the world,” 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. Based in 1954, the Combustion Institute is a world group that promotes and disseminates analysis actions in all areas of combustion science and expertise.
Mebel’s analysis 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 fashioned in such a frigid surroundings. Usually, combustion scientists need to keep away from the formation of PAHs as a result of they’re pollution.
A lot of his work on PAHs is primarily funded by U.S. Division of Vitality grants. Since becoming a member of FIU in 2003, his grants have been renewed six instances.
Regardless of the latest proliferation of electrical automobiles and different applied sciences meant to scale back the necessity for fossil-fuel produced vitality, Mebel mentioned there’s a shiny future for combustion.
The cleanest combustion of all, Mebel mentioned, makes use of hydrogen for gasoline and produces water as exhaust.
“Water shouldn’t be a greenhouse fuel and hydrogen combustion doesn’t produce carbon emissions,” he mentioned. “However there are many technological difficulties to beat earlier than hydrogen fuel may be saved effectively sufficient for it to turn out to be viable.”
Considering again on the beginning of his profession as a Ph.D. pupil in Russia, Mebel had designs on receiving such accolades.
“I used to be simply serious about science as a result of doing science and analysis is all the time enjoyable,” Mebel mentioned. It’s inventive. It’s rewarding by way of feeling that you just solved some drawback and also you be ok with that — particularly if the issue is expounded to one thing essential like cleansing the environment or a discovery about chemistry within the universe.”