4 Minutes With…Timothy D. Lebrecht, Lead Engineer Refinery and Bio-fuel Applications, Air Products and Chemicals

October 1, 2014 |

lebrechtTell us about your organization and it’s role in the Advanced Bioeconomy.

Air Products is an industrial gas company that supplies many of the required raw materials to make bio-based fuel and chemical manufacturing possible. The company has achieved a leadership position among the top 10 percent of companies in its industry as a component of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI) 2014/2015.

Tell us about your role and what you are focused on in the next 12 months.

As the Lead Engineer for both Refinery and Bio-Fuels Applications, I focus on the entire energy industry and how industrial gases play a role in safety and optimization. My objective is to promote the use of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and argon in ways that allow all processes to be more efficient, more cost effective, and more safe. Air Products has a rich history in supporting new technology through our Commercial Technology area. I look to build on that rich history by using established product lines in new ways to optimize the new bio-based industry. Helping lead the way to new ideas and new approaches using industrial gases is a core foundation to Commercial Technology at Air Products. Right now our knowledge of H2 for hydrotreatment of Renewable Diesel, knowledge of O2 for Gasification, and knowledge of N2 for inerting are key areas where I and Air Products are helping to lead the way.

What do you feel are the most important milestones the industry must achieve in the next 5 years?

The ability to provide a fuel or chemical that is technically the same as what is produced via petroleum. This material must be cost competitive. I do not see an environment where government subsidy or green premium pricing is a sustainable business model or supply plan.

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the Advanced Bioeconomy, what would you change?

A clear technical solultion regarding the low cost technology for the path forward. There has been a good deal of talk over the past 5 years but I have not seen a winning technology be able to compete with petroleum based product on cost and technical basis. As a supplier to the industry, I enjoy helping companies try to find this solution.

Of all the reasons that influenced you to join the Advanced Bioeconomy industry, what single reason stands out for you as still being compelling and important to you?

The ability to supplement the petroleum industry with competitive products. The scale of the petroleum industry I believe is too great to actually think it could be replaced but healthy competition will keep the global reach of petroleum in balance and ultimately make the world a more stable and happy place.

Where are you from? 

Fort Wayne, Indiana

What was your undergraduate major in college, and where did you attend? Why did you choose that school and that pathway? 

I majored in Chemical Engineering at Purdue University. I chose Purdue as it was an excellent engineering school that you could not beat if you were an Indiana native. Chemical Engineering was my pathway from the start as I love the idea of using chemistry for the good of mankind while at the same time making it work in a business environment.

What’s the biggest lesson you ever learned during a period of adversity?

Continue to be positive and do your best every day. During adversity there are a million reasons why you should not stay positive and do you best. However, in hindsite, adversity tends to come and go, but if you can say you approached everyday with integrity and your best effort, the benefits will come.

What hobbies do you pursue, away from your work in the industry? 

When my children were young I worked as both softball and soccer coaches. Now that they are in college and high school, I try to follow what they do as much as possible. In my spare time I enjoy gardening, kayaking, and singing in the church choir.

What’s your favorite city or place to visit, for a holiday?

I do not have one favorite but I like to travel and see what different parts of the US and the world are like.

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Category: Million Minds

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