Gary r. Dyrkacz
Henry H. Storch Award in Fuel Chemistry
Sponsored by Exxon Research & Engineering Co.
Chemist GARY R. DYRKACZ of Argonne National Laboratory has essentially single-handedly transformed coal macérai separation from a handpicking, sink-floating tedium to a facile scientific enterprise. Research teams throughout the world have adopted density-gradient centrifugation—an elegant yet practical method that Dyrkacz and his coworkers pioneered—and have applied it to the high-resolution separation of coal macérais. Coal macérais are the microscopically observable coalified plant remains of primordial swamps. All of the organic matter of coal is classified into a number of different macérai constituents on the basis of such physical differences as color or reflectivity and morphology. Early on, Dyrkacz recognized that an understanding of the organic structure of coal could not be achieved without physically separating organic coal macérais. At the inception of Dyrkacz's work, it was known that macérai groups had different chemistries, but, because of the difficulties of their separation, little chemical or structural work had been done on pure macérais. Dyrkacz's technique has made possible separation of kilogram quantities of pure macérais that are used by the entire coal science community. His work has created opportunities for new geochemical, physical, and organic chemical investigations as well as work in surface chemistry and spectroscopy. His most recent work consists of detailed expositions on a new continuous-flow separation method and on the more familiar sink-float centrifugal method. Dyrkacz received a B.S. degree in chemistry from DePaul University in 1968. His graduate training was done at the University of Illinois, Chicago, from which he received an M.S. degree in 1970 and a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry under Jan Rocek in 1975. From 1974 to 1976, he did postdoctoral research at Pennsylvania State University. He then joined the chemistry division of Argonnne National Lab, becoming a permanent staff member in 1977. His work on coal science earned him the ACS Division of Fuel Chemistry's Richard A. Glenn Award for the most outstanding paper presented at the 185th ACS national meeting. He served on the working group of the Coal Sample Bank Workshop sponsored by the Gas Research Institute and the Department of Energy, and he was one of the key people in the initial organization of the nationally recognized premium coal sample program at Argonne. He has also served as session chairman at the 1987 International Conference on Coal Science and presented two plenary lectures at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization conference in 1988. He is a member of ACS, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.