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OCR for page 18
ONR Research Opportunities in Chemistry 8 The Environment The current chemistry programs of ONR include many projects that relate to environmental protection, remediation, and improvement. Chemical remediation is addressed in basic studies of catalysis as well as in projects managed for the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), including one on biochemical and physiochemical degradation. Research on alternative materials and processes in ONR's Chemistry Division includes work on molecular interactions at marine interfaces and new materials and synthesis methods for coatings. Other projects on sensors and detectors are enablers for new control technologies. Future naval operations in all parts of the world will be required to conform to escalating environmental standards. The management of the environment is both a responsibility and an opportunity. Environmental impact will be a criterion for all new materials and processes and will drive the demand for basic chemistry research at ONR at an increasing pace. Chemical research on new materials, synthesis techniques, and new understanding of materials properties should be a significant component of the ONR environmental agenda. Connections should be established between the Chemistry Division and other environmental programs within ONR in order to identify those areas in greatest need of new chemical understanding. Chemical research opportunities related to the environment span a broad spectrum of topics, including waste processing and waste disposal system needs, recycling and reuse of materials, waste minimization, the development of environmentally benign chemical processes, and pollution control. Waste processing and purification. The scale of many naval operations creates a unique demand for new cost-effective waste processing methods. Discharge of the ballast from an aircraft carrier has been estimated to cost the Navy one dollar per gallon, and a million gallons can be discharged in a single port visit. The panel proposes an expansion of the basic chemistry studies that will enable the development of efficient new methods. Waste processing will require new materials and separation technologies. Basic research studies are warranted, including the design and synthesis of materials with controlled pore size, chemical and electrochemical separation techniques, and research related to adsorption and filtration. Chemical phenomena such as phase separation, coagulation, and precipitation should be explored for a wide range of systems. Methods for concentrating waste materials that can be applied close to their site of generation will potentially lower disposal costs and simplify waste handling. An expanded activity in environmental catalysis should be explored as a means of addressing the conversion of pollutants to a level of purity that can make them acceptable for discharge. Opportunities exist for the development of new methods for the elimination of gaseous pollutants and toxic substances. Efficient methods for the disposal of chemical weapons will be needed by the Navy so long as such weapons exist anywhere in the world. Waste minimization. Work on the chemistry of materials should focus on minimizing the amount of waste generated. One approach is to develop processes that use fewer chemicals, have fewer process steps, and generate by-products with reduced waste
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ONR Research Opportunities in Chemistry control requirements. Another approach is to extend the useful life of materials and fluids used in naval operations. Improved compatibility of materials, including reduction in wear, improved chemical stability, and corrosion protection, is another way to reduce the accumulation of spent materials. Reuse and recycling of materials and devices. Opportunities for the reuse and rejuvenation of spent materials will be enhanced by new understanding of materials properties and processes. Chemical studies that focus on the recycling of fluids should be supported. Materials designed for reuse will both eliminate waste and reduce supply requirements. One example is the development of reliable, high energy density secondary batteries to replace primary batteries. Pollution prevention. Basic studies should be directed toward generation of new chemical knowledge to meet the demand to prevent generation of pollutants. Some recent examples of changes in products and processes that have been driven by consideration for environmental improvement include the elimination of lead in gasoline, the use of water-based paints in industrial applications, and the required change over from refrigerant R12 to R134a. Prevention of pollution requires the development of alternative materials and changes in processes to allow the use of substitutes without a loss of function. Understanding of basic materials properties and new chemical synthesis techniques will enable the development of new low-polluting methods for coating and cleaning operations.
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