Back to All Events

Research Rivers Seminar: Peter DeCarlo, "Air Impacts from the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refinery"

Join us for the fourth meeting of the Research Rivers Seminar of the semester on March 17, 2017. 

This week's presentation will be given by co-convener of the Research Rivers Seminar,  Professor Peter DeCarlo (Drexel). 

Location: 12-1:30p in the Meyerson Conference Room, 2nd Floor, Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania (3420 Walnut Street) 

"AIr Impacts from the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refinery" 

Straddling the banks of the Lower Schuylkill River sits the largest refinery complex on the Eastern seaboard. Data on emissions from the refinery come from a variety of sources & databases, but this information does not provide quantitative pollutant concentrations & air quality degradation from the surrounding neighborhoods of Philadelphia. With the global recognition of the impacts of air quality on human health, studies to better understand local impacts of industrial activities add to our collective understanding. 

This talk brings together various datasets on refinery emissions & places them in the context of the air emissions from Philadelphia & activities related to statewide natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale. Emissions data is, in many cases, only an estimate of true emissions & measurements are required to determine the accuracy of these data. Since the river provides direct public access to the complex, high precision measurements of methane (CH4) & carbon dioxide (CO2) were made using a prototype battery powered backpack from a canoe. These measurements provide an initial demonstration of the value of air pollution measurements made from a human powered boat platform if appropriate instrumentation is available. Future measurement possibilities & platforms will be discussed. Of particular interest is distributing this information to the public in ways that aid in understanding the impacts of the refinery emissions& how these types of measurement may be used in other areas.

Dr. Peter DeCarlo is an Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Chemistry at Drexel University. Dr. DeCarlo has a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from the University of Colorado, and a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Notre Dame. He uses state-of-the-art instrumentation to measure the chemical composition of particulates and gases in the atmosphere to better understand air quality and climate impacts of human emissions. He has made air quality and climate related measurements from planes, trucks, and stationary sites all over the world to better understand emissions, sources, and subsequent chemical reactions of pollutants in the atmosphere. Dr. DeCarlo is also interested in the intersection of science and policy, and was an AAAS Science Policy Fellow at the US EPA prior to starting his faculty position at Drexel. Funding for his research comes from the National Science Foundation, Electric Power Research Institute,  and the Department of Transportation. Dr. DeCarlo has co-authored over 80 peer-reviewed publications and has been identified as a highly cited researcher by Thompson Reuters (2014, 2015, and 2016). 

In tandem with other LSRCorps initiatives, the River Research Seminar begins meeting is a collaborative place-based research seminar designed to build a core of regional scholars whose work explores the Schuylkill River and Philadelphia’s urban waters, connecting them across disciplines from hydrology to history. The seminar works closely with community partners whose collaboration also informs the seminar’s research questions and priorities.

The seminar is convened by Laurie Allen (Assistant Director of Digital Scholarship, Penn Libraries), Peter DeCarlo (Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering and Chemistry, Drexel University), Danielle Redden (Director of River Programs, Bartram’s Garden), and Bethany Wiggin (Associate Professor of German and Director, Penn Program in Environmental Humanities).

For more information contact director@ppehlab.org.