Dr. Joseph Pignatello

Our next Chemistry Seminar Speaker of our Spring Series is Dr. Joseph J. Pignatello, Chief Scientist at The Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station. Dr. Pignatello will be speaking on “Interactions of organic compounds with natural and human-made pyrogenic carbonaceous materials—sorption, reaction, and catalysis.” His seminar will start at 3:00 pm, Friday, February 19th, via Zoom.

Abstract: Pyrogenic carbonaceous materials (PCM) are solid products of pyrolysis or thermolysis of biomass. Chars from wildfires, crop residue burning, or land clearing practices are widely distributed in the environment, and may influence soil structure, microbial activity, and behavior of pollutants especially in highly impacted areas. Produced PCMs such as activated carbon, biochar, and related materials, are in use or under study as agents in water, soil, and air purification, and as additives to improve soil properties. Central to the behavior of PCMs is their role as adsorbents; however, PCMs and their physico-chemically modified forms, are attracting interest as electron-transfer mediators and catalyst substrates. This lecture will describe our recent efforts in understanding and manipulating sorptive functions, probing the inherent chemical reactivity of PCMs and their ability to mediate electron-transfer reactions, and the modification of PCMs for specific environmental remediation functions.

Bio: Dr. Pignatello has been a pioneer in Environmental Science, and currently is Chief Scientist at The Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station There, he leads the Environmental Chemistry Group, which researches both fundamental and applied aspects of the environmental chemistry of pollutants and natural processes, such as physical-chemical processes for removing or degrading pollutants in soil, water and air, physical-chemical interactions of organic compounds with soils and soil components, and bioavailability of organic contaminants in natural particles. A recent research focus is studying the nature of the interactions between organic compounds and pyrogenic carbon, including studies of novel interactions between the carbons and behaviors, tailoring the carbon surfaces to adsorb and transform contaminants, and potential roles for these carbons in environmental management.