4 Minutes With…Seth Snyder, Water Initiative Leader, Argonne National Laboratory

October 22, 2014 |

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

As a DOE National Laboratory, Argonne plays a core role in the Advanced Bioeconomy. It is the home for GREET, the national life cycle analysis tool. Argonne has core programs in waste-to-energy (WTE), separations, catalysis, and feedstock stability. Argonne is a core lab for work on water aspects of the Advanced Bioeconomy.

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

After a decade as the bioenergy technology leader, I just created a new role building a new initiative in water. Water is a critical barrier to sustainable energy in general, and bioenergy in specific.

I am assembling a regional team to address the spectrum of water issues in fresh water systems including, water allocation, data, modeling, and analysis, sensors and detectors, treatment, reuse, efficiency, and tech-to-market. One area of note is enhancing anaerobic digestion to produce high quality biogas. Biogas can now qualify as an advanced or cellulosic biofuel.

Over the next twelve months we will build out the water team. We will assess the sustainability of water in bioenergy production. We will push pilot our WTE biogas technology.

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

Production at scale of drop-in products (fuels and products). Consolidation of the community on the benefits of the advanced bioeconomy.

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

Multi-year certainty of RFS RVO mandates.

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?

Economic growth with environmental benefits

Where are you from? 

I was born in the Lower Eastside of Manhattan, the logical home for focusing on rural economic development.

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

I attended the University of Pennsylvania and double majored in Chemistry and Environmental Studies. I went there to get away from city life.

Who do you consider your mentors. What have you learned from them?

I did an undergraduate internship with R. Buckminster Fuller. I learned to think big, think data, and focus on solutions.

My postdoctoral adviser, Marion Thurnauer trained me to seek and find talent in everyone I work with.

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

Fail fast and move on.

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

Work, read, bike, run, music

What 3 books would you take to read, if stranded on a desert island?

David Foster Wallace – Infinite Jest
Thomas Pynchon – Against the Day
Haruki Murakami – 1Q84
They are long detailed books with rich story lines and could be re-read multiple times.

What books or articles are on your reading list right now, or you just completed and really enjoyed?

Lois Lowry – The Giver & Gathering Blue
Eleanor Catton – The Luminaries
Daniel Kahneman – Thinking Fast and Slow
Haruki Murakami – Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage
Emma Donoghue – Frog Music
Pedro Ferreira – The Perfect Theory
Ron Chernow – Titan
NY Times
Chicago Tribune
Chicago Reader

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: ,

Category: Million Minds

Thank you for visting the Digest.