Interview with research talents

Thaddeus Wayne Golbek 
PhD in Chemical Engineering/Dr. 

Thaddeus's background

I started my studies at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington in the United States where I majored in both chemistry and physics.  After completing my bachelor degrees I went straight into graduate school and received both my Master of Science and PhD in chemical engineering from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon in the United States.  During my time in graduate school I received a fellowship to study at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany.  I specialize in surface analysis techniques, primarily sum frequency generation and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, to characterize biomolecule adsorption and interaction at organic and inorganic interfaces and surfaces.

Present your project

We wish to use spectroscopy and microscopy to screen for smart water formulations for recovering oil from chalk sediments as well as modifying the surface of wells to reduce fouling, scaling, corrosion when dealing with oil from the North Sea.  We wish to also identify which molecules are present at the oil-water-sediment interface and then determine which molecules are vital for oil-water-chalk interactions.

What do you expect the major challenges in your area of study will be?

We have two main challenges with our project. The first is that the molecular interfacial properties of the oil-water-sediment interfaces are unknown.  Second, oil flow within tubes and wells is hindered by friction at the tube material surface and the surface is susceptible to biofouling, scaling and corrosion. To overcome the challenges we need to both know how the molecules are interacting with each interface and be able to deposit a coating on pipes and wells that can reduce biofouling, scaling and corrosion. In short, surfaces are unique because they rely on interactions that are unique to every molecule present at the surface.

How do you plan to contribute in solving these problems?

I intend to utilize my collaborations and expertise in surface modification, sum frequency generation, and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to probe oil and ion interactions at sediment surfaces and to apply our reduced biofouling, scaling, and corrosion pipe coating.  To address all scenarios, we will prepare model surfaces to mimic interactions found in the environment. For the smart water will sequentially add additive to the surface and observe how the surface interactions change.  For our pipe coating, our coal is move forwards with our designed coating from academic context towards field-testing under realistic conditions.  As collaborators, I also have access to a large amount of scientific knowledge with all aspects of this project including collaborators at Aarhus University, Max Planck Institute for Polymers, and the DHRTC.

What are your expectations for your future career?

My future career expectations is to have my own lab as professor at a university or as head researcher in industry.
6 APRIL 2020