17 Apr 2015 On winning the Rosen award.
No, not me! It's Dr Charles Hammond currently at CESI but formerly with Sasol who has won the prestigious Samuel Rosen award from the AOCS for his work on extended surfactants used in the EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery) industry. It is a prestigious award partly because Milton J. Rosen who sponsors this award is one of the true greats of surfactant science. Rosen is a hero of mine because he is one of the relatively few authors of books and papers who have allowed me quickly to get to some deep understanding of surfactant phenomena.
Why do I want to celebrate the fact that he has won this award? For three reasons. First, because I have had the pleasure of interacting with Charles on a number of occasions and he has been of great help when I was developing HLD-NAC programs and apps in collaboration with Prof Edgar Acosta of U Toronto who is the key force behind modern HLD-NAC theory. Second, because it is for work based around the HLD-NAC theory that is at the heart of much of my Practical Surfactants website and apps. When I first found out about HLD-NAC it took all of 10 minutes to convince me that this was the best practical theory in current surfactant science. It has always puzzled me, therefore, that most of the surfactant world either continue to ignore it or find it too difficult. Either way, HLD-NAC is still not the default option for thinking through surfactant issues, even though the "standard" ideas such as HLB are provably near-worthless.
The third reason is related to the second. For reasons unclear to me, the suppliers of surfactants refuse to provide the basic data (so-called Cc values) that would allow all of us to formulate more effectively with HLD-NAC. There was one notable exception to this rule: Sasol. They generously allowed Charles to publish his work in this hyper-competitive EOR market. My understanding is that Sasol gained more from being open than they lost by "giving away" their important data. By making data available it stimulates feedback and debate which advances the field for everyone but is particularly valuable for the originators of the data because they can very quickly go back to the lab and tweak things. Besides, being "open" doesn't mean "giving away all your secrets".
So this celebration of the Rosen award is also an admonishment to the rest of the surfactants industry who are providing a dis-service to their customers by not providing Cc data. Fortunately, pressure is mounting on them from large customers. At a recent AOCS meeting a major corporation, exploring non-EOR aspects of HLD-NAC, publically complained that their suppliers were not providing Cc data. Hopefully if one supplier gives in to pressure from a major corporation others will follow.
And if the surfactant suppliers start providing Cc values, maybe the suppliers of oils (e.g. for cosmetics formulations) will start to provide the other part of the HLD-NAC system, EACN values. Well, I can dream, can't I?