Professor George Olah, Nobel laureate and member of CRI's Board of Advisors, passed away at his home in Beverly Hills, California on March 8th 2017 at the age of 89. CRI's first industrial scale CO2-to-methanol production plant in Iceland, which was inaugurated in 2012, was named in honor of Professor Olah. He was awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1994 for his contribution to carbocation chemistry. (Picture credit: USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)
Professor Olah was an early promoter of methanol as an alternative fuel and advocated the development of direct CO2-to-methanol synthesis technology. His influential book "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy" popularized the idea of methanol as an energy carrier and carbon neutral replacement for fossil transport fuels. Olah argued that methanol synthesized from CO2 and hydrogen could reduce the world's dependence on fossil hydrocarbons and usher in a new era of carbon neutral transportation and chemistry.
Since 1979 Professor Olah directed the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute at the University of Southern California (USC), where he helped to develop direct methanol fuel cells and catalysts enabling CO2 capture from ambient air.
Professor Olah was born in Hungary in 1927 and studied chemistry at the Technical University of Budapest. After the Hungarian uprising in 1956, Olah fled to England and continued on to Canada, eventually settling in the United States. After a career in industrial research at Dow Chemical Co. in Michigan he joined the faculty of Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1977 he and members of his research team, including Professor Surya Prakash, Professor Olah's closest collaborator and member of CRI's Board of Advisors, moved to USC in Los Angeles, California.
Professor Olah will be missed by his friends and admirers from around the world. The CRI team owes a debt of gratitude to Professor Olah for his inspiration, encouragement and support and extends condolences to his family and colleagues.