Perry McCarty, one of the original environmental engineers

[MUSIC] Good evening, good evening I would like to welcome you all here I am Persis Drell I’m the Dean of Stanford School of Engineering, and I’d like to thank you for joining us tonight Not only do we have a full house here in Nvidia Auditorium, but we are webcasting live on YouTube to alumni students and friends around the world What that means is when we get to the Q&A at the end, we will wanna repeat your questions for the online audience So we are here tonight to honor Perry McCarty He is the Silas H Palmer Professor Emeritus in Stanford Engineering’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering The Heroes Program at Stanford Engineering is now in its fifth year And we use it to recognize the achievements of Stanford engineers who have been able to really, profoundly advance the course of human, social, and economic progress through engineering And who in addition, are just wonderful people And Perry fits that bill perfectly Our heroes personify the mission of Stanford Engineering, to seek solutions to important global problems and enrich humanity by using engineering principals, techniques, and systems Their life’s work demonstrates a commitment to not just advancing technology, but also changing the world for the better And they embody leadership qualities that inspire future generations of engineers to apply their education to have a positive global impact Now along with Perry, this year’s inductees include Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings And Dr. Martin Fisher, the founder of KickStart International, an award winning non-profit social enterprise that develops technologies to improves lives and lift people out of poverty in developing nations They join a very distinguished group that includes luminaries such as Fred Terman, Sally Ride, former US Secretary of Defense and Stanford faculty member Bill Perry, and Irmgard Flugge-Lotz who was renowned for her many important contributions to aerodynamics and automatic control theory But let’s talk about Perry Perry McCarty is best known for his research and teaching on water, with a primary interest in biological processes for the control of environmental contaminants And I think we’re all gonna learn a little bit more about that this evening He’s recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities on microbial processes used in the treatment of water, the treatment of wastes, and the treatment of hazardous chemicals in the environment He’s devoted his career to the discovery of how to create microenvironmental ecosystems to cleanse water of human waste and reduce groundwater pollution And I think you’re all aware of just how important this issue is Perry joined the Stanford University faculty in 1962, when he came to help develop the environmental engineering and science program He just told me a lovely story of how his family drove across the country and spent their first night in the tent cabins in Toulumne Meadows What an introduction to California, I have to say From 1980 to 1985, he was the Chair of Stanford’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering And from 1989 to 2002, served as the Director of the Western Region Hazardous Substance Research Center By his retirement in 1999, Perry had trained 40 PhD students, half of whom went on to teach at universities, which is an amazing legacy And of those, 11 became department chairs, and one a dean He’s authored some 350 peer review papers He’s written two textbooks, Environmental Biotechnology Principles and Applications, and Chemistry for Environmental Engineering and Science They were co-authored with former students, Bruce Rittman of Arizona State University and Gene Parkin of the University of Iowa, and together have sold more than 200,000 copies

And they are standard text for a profession that is dedicated to counteracting and mitigating the environmental degradation, pollution, and waste of the industrial age Now, I looked at that number and 200,000? I think that’s a best seller in that field Very, very impressive, [LAUGH] Over time, Perry’s received numerous awards and accolades, including memberships in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The National Academy of Engineering and the Tyler Prize, the Clark Prize, and the Stockholm Water Prize Three of the most respected awards in environmental science But, it was a local recognition that I think provides the best honor for what what Perry’s colleagues have to say about him And that came from Dick Luthy, friend and colleague in the department of civil and environmental engineering And what Dick said was, Perry has advanced environmental engineering and science as no other And that’s a very fitting tribute Perry is still actively working to advance the field and the practice of environmental engineering We noticed this, that our heroes very often have a hard time really retiring Tonight it is just a pleasure to celebrate Perry as one of Stanford engineering’s heroes, and to honor him with a token of our admiration So, Perry if you will join me up here I will present this >> [APPLAUSE] >> It’s a plaque >> [APPLAUSE] >> And >> [APPLAUSE] >> [LAUGH] >> [APPLAUSE] >> [LAUGH] And so we have a heroes wall just outside and a duplicate this will hang on the wall, and I’ll put it here safely >> Okay, thanks >> While you tell us about how microbes provide unique solutions to environmental problems, congratulations >> [LAUGH] Fine, thank you so much Thank you so much, Gertrude >> [APPLAUSE] >> Ladies and gentlemen, I can’t really tell you how pleased I am to receive this wonderful honor from a Stanford School of Engineering Stanford’s such a great university I really know of no other where the faculty have always been so open, and interested, and willing to work across disciplines That has actually been the key to the success of the environmental engineering’s science program That I came here to help develop when I came in 1962 So I’d like to, today, to tell you something about how I got there, and then a bit about what I’ve been doing since I’ve been here I, like so many other engineering professors that I’ve talked to, what they’ve done and so forth Similarly, I too when I was a kid, I liked to play with chemistry sets and build radios And my favourite text when I was in grade school was elementary physics [LAUGH] >> [LAUGH] >> [LAUGH] But I really never thought of going to the university as most kids in Detroit at that time didn’t go There were too many good jobs in the automobile industry building cars It was in high school that my math teacher started encouraging me to go and indeed she wrote my application to Wayne University >> [LAUGH] >> In Detroit They accepted me and so I went there Then I had to make a decision, what I’m gonna do And I first thought of physics, but they told me at the time, there’s no job in physics, except in teaching and to do that you had to get a doctor’s degree Well, [LAUGH] at that time well I lucky I’m even on a university let alone doing something like that So, then they suggested engineering and that soundes good, so I went in that direction And engineering, he had to take a course in each of the disciplines and in civil engineering of course happened to be surveying, of surveying the courses outside I really like camping and being outside and boating and so forth, and I said, if that’s what civil engineers do, that’s me That’s what I wanna do >> [LAUGH] >> A required course in civil engineering was engineering mechanics, and I really like that because that was applied physics

The book, it was a wonderful book It was written by Stephen Timoshenko, father of engineering mechanics and a professor here at Stanford University I never thought I would be standing here today having my name added to a list with his name on it Another required course was in water supply and sewage What intrigued me in taking that course was became in water pollution control That was interesting because if you add an organic waste to a water supply and bacteria eat the organic materials, use oxygen, dissolved oxygen Dissolved oxygen decreases and it kills the fish and less than oxygen diffuses them from the atmosphere to prevent that from happening So the science here involved biology, chemistry, physics, and I thought and working in a natural environment and again tracking back through my sort of love of nature and really liking the outside, and so I decided to go into that direction It was called sanitary engineering then and now I had to go on to graduate school and so I found that MIT had a good program Applied there and they accepted me and so that’s where I went Now, my family and all wondered why I will be going to MIT to get a garbage collections degree >> [LAUGH] >> But, that’s important, now it’s not important but it’s much broader than that, and indeed when I got MIT I really found how broad it really could be Well these are the four of the problems that were sort of on the table when I was there Pathogens was a problem that had been understood and pretty much solved as far as drinking water in the early part of the 20th century In fact, at the end of the 20th century, the National Academy of Engineering, they looked at the 20 most significant achievements in engineering then and this is one of the came up as most important Because what we had done in the field resulted was a primarily responsible for doubling life expectancy in the United States It’s not a problem that’s gone away, we know the problems in Haiti today We know the problems in developing countries and throughout the world, but at least we understand what the problem The other one that was most and very important was the mention of depletion of fish We knew of some treatment process to help that, but it needed solving Industrial wastes were just emerging They were all different We hadn’t really the science and technology to handle that problem And then the nutrients where nitrogen and phosphorus were coming into the water We knew at the time that, that was causing this problem of eutrophication stimulation of the growth of algae, but we really weren’t doing anything about it then So, this were on the chart but on the same time of Cuyhoga River, it was burning This is not the first time it burned Water’s not supposed to burn but, there it was And then when I came here to Stanford, the San Jose Treatment Plant, brand new one, just built, and in that plant they bubble in air for oxygen for the bacteria to degrade the organic matter And at that time, something had happened, at the end of the Second World War We got bubbles like this on our treatment plants and indeed, foam like this was popping up It was not only at our treatment plants, but it was in ground water, it was in rivers, it was all over the country And then, when I went on, the time I went through my Master’s degree, in Chanute, Kansas First time we will explain this, this brought home something else The river dried up and so what could the people do? They needed water, so they went down, they built a dam below the waste water discharge The waste water moved up to the drinking water supply and that became the water supply This is what it looked like It’s a treatment when that happened with those soap and bubbles and so forth And if you look up there at the woman on the right there, that glass of water is not good head of beer that is drink water >> [LAUGH] >> Now the beer drinking when I went up in the city at the time >> [LAUGH] >> But now we know about droughts today in California and how serious this problem is That’s the opening, because now the refractory, the refractoried organics, the synthetic detergents that we’re built in Germany during the second World War because they didn’t have fats to make soap It was a wonderful industrial achievement because it didn’t do a mix with the hardness and water, but this was a problem This was our first introduction to something doesn’t really break down So anyway, at MIT, I had four professors, these are three of them Clair Sawyer was an Environmental Chemist

He was working on the detergent problem I was kinda interested he wanted me to go on, he suggested, to go on for PhD, doctor’s degree, actually, doctor in science And so I worked for him on the detergent problem for a little bit But then he decided to underwrite the first edition of the textbook on chemistry and so he left MIT to take a leave of absence So then I switched to Ross McKinney who was working on the biological process, working on the science And this was stimulating, because it was just then we’re getting way from a very empirical approach, trial and error, to try and understand better how to design a process What’s the science behind it? And so this was emerging Rolf Eliasson was the head of the program at the time Now as it went on Claire decided not to come back, he wanted to stay with industry So being in the right place, the right time What can they do, they hired me to replace them So there I was, teaching at MIT And after I start teaching MIT, became disappointed In the sense that we have this limited faculty You saw the breath of the problems that we were beginning to face even just in the water area And we were still limited, we were very good in the little things we did but we couldn’t even the course that’s in hydrology or hydraulics in our own department because the barriers were too great then They didn’t take our courses we didn’t take theirs and there’s no place else you can go in the university to get somethings else So one day, Rolf Eliassen, [COUGH] he became chairman later on, in civil engineering In 1961, he called me in his office and he said, have you heard of Stanford University on the West Coast and so forth? He said, well, they have full game and water resources where the food mechanics, hydrology working together They’re bringing in engineering economics They’re bringing in a political science They’re bringing in policy and so forth And he said, they wanna add water quality component to it, and they’ve offered me a job and so I’m gonna be leaving So then he turned to me and says, would you come with me? >> [LAUGH] >> I said, yes immediately I went home, told my wife Martha, we’re going to Stanford She said, okay >> [LAUGH] >> In eight hours, I learned about Stanford University water resources program Been offered the job and accepted that You don’t do that today >> [LAUGH] >> I’ve never been disappointed, never been disappointed It’s such a wonderful place They did have their water resources group going but the thing that surprising to me was that I worked and got friends in school who are scientists It was easy to do chemistry, biology, law school, business school Anyplace you could go talk to people, they are interested in working with you And I don’t know any other university like that And it was because of that we were able to build this cross disciplinary program, environmental engineering and science And immediately became one of the best in the country So and that still is the breed here I don’t know why at this university that happens, but it does, and it’s so important And now we have our buildings together, we’re all in together from working on energy and environment and so forth Well, let me go back into a little bit clue of what I’ve been doing as far as science is concern Now I just want to indicate something important Claire Sawyer, who left He and his students, instead of doing that so many are doing like and came here in San Jose, they were poring oil in the irrigation tank to try and tie up [COUGH] the detergents And they were, I’m gonna get some water, here it is And they were, excuse me a moment So but what he did was look at the science of it and that top one, called alkyl benzene sulfonate, or ABS It had, they recognized that it had these branches, and that little carbon I’ve put a little red circle around, was [COUGH] was tied to four other carbons And they’ve realized that this was not biodegradable So in the branching, the bacteria did not have the enzymes to do that So they said, [COUGH] they suggested that they straighten out the molecule and the problem would go away, which it did

Now it took, we work with detergent manufacturers to test different ways of doing that In 1964 the problem just appeared [COUGH] Take a little more Well, on the left here, this is San Jose treatment plant without the bubbles You can see there coming in Russ McKinney, my adviser, they were studying that, both of them people working on the science and then they had a concept of food and microorganism ratio to do that and applying that as a science Requires power to control that air, and about 3% to 4% of electricity in the United States is used just for that purpose Bacteria use waste while half of it is converted into new organisms and so we end up with this what we call sludge The sludge is taken from here, about a six hour detention time and aeration time And then put in anaerobic treatment systems, digesters as we call them seen on the right side And in there, the waste is broken down and converted into methane So the difference here, in this process, the aerobic process requires energy The one on the right produces energy in the form of methane, natural gas [COUGH] Clair Sawyer had active class in which we ran anaerobic process When I became very intrigued with that It seemed like a waste, we should be getting resources out of our materials rather than treating them But now the digester, the detention time was long, maybe 30, 40 days, instead of six hours And so it was thought what you can’t really use it for anything except very concentrated waste, and they have to be treated to high temperatures And the thought was, can we, if we understood this process better, could we treat it in one of the shorter detention times? And so that became my interest Now the textbook tha we had at the time was written by, when I came in two years before, was by Gordon Fair He’s a chaired professor at Harvard, world known and he had worked with Karl Imhoff, a German also well known And in the book I’ve got, my book it said, how do you design one of this digeters? Why you look at the community, see how big it is, and so many cubic feet per capita, that’s science That’s what you, how many people you have and then you multiply it by some number But the science that they had was dependent on the temperature, though because if you work at a higher temperature then it goes faster What it’s showing here, they had a couple of different organism that live on mesolithic and there’s average temperatures and then there’s some that work better at thermophilic But most people, since we got the methane, they could take and heat the sludge up to say 35 degrees Celsius which is 95 Fahrenheit as an optimum and for that they found by putting this sludge in a bottle that took 23 days to get the most amount of methane So they said you should double that for safety factors to 46 days So that was the science Well, in class we were taught a little bit better than that When you do that in these complex mixtures of bacteria some of them take it and ferment it and convert the organics into acids pH becomes acidic, then kills the organisms, unless you have methane bacteria that take those acids and convert them into methane So you had to have this balance to make it work right The other thing that was just coming out, just before, maybe not more than ten years before was some knowledge about the organism, it’s methane, a first, and this had been hypothesized by the microbiologist for many years That hydrogen, hydrogen gas, is produced as you remove, if you take organic material, if you remove hydrogen from it, put off as a gas And then oxidize the carbon, excuse me, reduce the carbon to the methane That was the theory But a chemist, Boswell, had been convinced himself and then finally proved just before, not many years before, that the acid may, the acid form the acetic acid which is vinegar,

to those who know what acetic acid, vinegar’s acetic acid And acetic acid is cleaved in the middle where that methyl group we call goes into methane That’s essentially what we knew Now I tried, my first attempt was try to isolate an organism that uses acetic acid I was really naive I mean, that was really, really, really difficult So I learned that pretty quickly, fortunately But I had soon found some friends that had been studying not digestures like we had but the rumen of cows Now this just like a digesture because we have don’t have enzymes to hydrolyze cellulose and so we can’t eat grass like a cow can Neither does a cow, no mammals do What they, so they have this room in this stomach, that’s full of bacteria, just like we have in our digesters, same thing And they have in there, the bacteria in there eat the grass and so forth, take the cellulose, hydrolyze, break it down into organic acids Like this acetic acid I told you And then the cow, the cow takes in these acids, and that’s what they feed on as they live on So, as far as studying that, you see you if wanna study the cow, you reach into the cow [LAUGH] a fistulated cow, they put a stopper in it, so you have to do this young woman’s doing And I show to microbiologists who are working on this was Cornelis Van Neil, one of the dutch microbiologist came in the United States to Stanford University in 1928 He’s at Hopkins Marine Station and he became one of the most noted microbiologist in the world He was studying anaerobic processes Especially photosynthesis, anaerobic photosynthesis And he had, apparently, a wonderful course, he retired in 1962 And I came, and of course I’d never met him, but I did get to know his first PhD student, Bob Hungate who was at UC Davis, studying the rumen bacteria And he was working on a very difficult to do, sorta studying them one at a time and they blow their own glassware and so forth It’s just very difficult And one of his students is Marvin Bryant who I got to know very well I know Marvin Bryant very well Marvin was just fantastic in the microorganism The work he did on working with symbiotic organisms, very difficult, very difficult to isolate But he eventually did Well the thing, the big question came at this time, was why in the rumen does it stop at the acid stage? And in our system goes all the way to methane And they were trying to look at the organism that, so we sorta worked together and what my students at MIT, when we were working in engineering we do mass balances and RAIDs, kinetics and so forth And we pieced together using radio tracers this substance that acetic acid represents 72% of the methane We also found that we could compute how much of it goes to acetic acid By just looking at normal biochemical pathways So here we have now, acetic acid has been the major acid, we get the rest of it coming from hydrogen that’s released from other compounds So at least that was one step How important acetic acid is Marvin Bryant then asked me to a Society of Industrial Microbiology conference, I think it was about 1965, to present the work, engineer going to biological conference, anyway I did that and I presented where we were Just after I came to Stanford we had put together this for I put this in Paper won a best prize award I said what, what’s different here is that we were looking, we ran these digesters at different detention times at that time And you can see as you get shorter and shorter, the methane production finally gets to a point where about ten days it starts dropping off Now, if you look at the particulate organics, the suspended material that was being hydrolyzed and broken down, as it was decreasing at shorter time than that, but the volatile fatty acids were building up, now these volatile fatty acids are the acetic acid, two and three and four carbon acids, that normally in the cow they use Well you could see a couple of things One is, if you operated, I asked my, so I said, what is the detention time in the cow’s rumen It’s only about three days, so no wonder the cow gets you put it three days, you washed out What happens? Because the s state using organisms had a doubling time of four days at these temperatures And if you operate at less than four days, you have one organism,

before it can become two you’ve taken it away from the system So they can’t grow on it, they’re washed out And that was the secret difference between a rumour and what we did What I indicated is that if you want to run a biological treatment system you have to find the doubling time, the rate of growth of the slowest growing organisms in the system And then you apply a safety factor For example four days here Say, multiply it by 4, maybe 16 days, it’ll work And now we have all the different biological treatment processes And I call that, instead of detention time, it’s the solids retention time It’s the time of the suspended material that you keep in there, the bacteria Not that the detention time is organic, the waste, but how long you keep the bacteria in And so that was the whole difference Now how are we gonna make advantage of this for industrial waste? Well, what we tried to do, had Jim Young, we thought, well, maybe if you put in some media for the bacteria to grow on and stick to it So as the water comes, the waste comes through it, if you have a soluble wastewater come through it, you keep the bacteria in there, but you can have a short detention time for the liquid So he tried it in their labs, over on the far right side there, put in some rocks, and the bacteria, and it worked Now, and so here, a little industrial waste, room temperature, maybe you could do about 12 hours for something like maybe 3,000 milligram per liter concentration, rather than the 30,000 that we had in the sludges and I just show this picture here taken from that other web, and you can see that little black stuff sitting on top We thought that kinda probably attached the organism to the solids, but we see there’s settling in there, and so Jim Young took those out and magnified them, this is what it looked like, he called them granules And if you take one of those granules and open it up You see all this whole mixture of bacteria And what’s really critical here, because there’s so little energy available, we get most of the energy out in the methane Very little energy for the organism, and we have several of them working, each one taking a little piece of it They have to work very closely together for them to get this energy out of it You see there’s some long ones there Long chains, well actually it’s several organisms, we used to call it the fat rot And it’s the critical one that uses the acetate Very difficult, isolate that by itself, but when you put it in a mixture, it works pretty well Well okay, using that principle of keeping the bacteria in Depending upon temperatures, maybe keeping them for 20 days, or 30 days, or 40 days, let the wastewater go through And all these reactors have now different ones, different people involved in them I wanna show you the one on the upper right-hand corner from Bacardi Rum company EPA told them that they have to treat their waste After making rum and distillation, they had this waste and they were putting it in the ocean And they told me how to clean it So they looked at this, and they saw this So they built what you see is that big rack here there using this principle with the use of plastic medians instead of stones It was more efficient And when they finally built the plant, build it, the methane they produced in five years The value of methane five years paid for itself, because they were using that methane to distill the rum And so here you have protecting the environment and making money out of it, now that’s ideal, that’s what you want to do So now, for industrial waste, organic industrial waste, these are the technologies that are used I wanna come back to when I first came to Stanford, 1962 Rachel Carson had just come out with her book, Silent Spring, about now another refractory organic problem Chlorinated compounds And so, killing the grebes in Clear Lake here Just a sad story about what was happening and what to do about it Well I had, in my first semester, Dan Sidel is from my first class I think there was four people in the class, something like that [LAUGH] And one of them, Dave Hill, came to me and he said, he’d like to go on for a PhD and so he said I’d like to study pesticides And he said, I know you’re doing anaerobic treatment, so we should try anaerobic Well, at that time, everyone said anaerobic treatment Fine, if it’s not degradable aerobically, it’s not going to go anaerobically And then these compounds decayed aerobically So I humored him along and said, well, maybe he could learn something from this and get started And so, very difficult at the time because didn’t have good analytical techniques So he starts studying, these are the chlorinated solvents that we’ve,

chlorinated pesticides that we currently used at the time So he’d finally got analytical procedures worked out and how to get it So he said, he wanted to study Lindane this is this lower one down here And so, cuz we were spraying on agriculture fields at the times He went down, got a bottle of anaerobic sludge from the treatment plant, and he put it in Ten days later, he comes in, he says, they’re gone Put more in, hey went back ten days later, they’re gone Get some DDT Put in the DDT, and it disappeared And then it showed up first, this compound So this compound is the same as DDT, except the bottom chlorine is removed and replaced with hydrogen We call that today, reductive dehalogenation, just want to point that out And then it disappeared So he tried all those, they all disappeared Well, what should we do? Well it was interesting, I thought that’s really novel but they spray it all over agriculture fields, it’s all over And I know at that time there was so much coming in to against chlorinated solvent I was sure that these are all be removed, taken away, replaced by something biodegradable And they hardly ever go into anaerobic environment anyway, so I didn’t do anything more on it than indeed, we did do away with those compounds Well, skip ten years forward In California, water was becoming a problem, reusing sewage became something we were working on, people working on Orange County, in 1976, built the first one where they used reverse osmosis to try to remove most of the stuff remaining, put it in the ground And treat that, and then people pick up the ground water and drink it So Santa Clara Valley Water District- >> [LAUGH] >> Came along and anyway, Santa Clara Valley Water District came along and Asked if we would like to study They were planning their team, what would happen and inject it in the groundwater, so we said sure, we’d like to do that And another important thing at Stanford that happened at that time was a cooperative group here, computer science, that artificial intelligence, computer science, biology, chemistry And three of the people, the people that got together, and they came up with a way of building They built a computerized gas chromatography, a mass spectrometry So that is it takes samples with complete complex mixtures of substances and water Pass it through, they’re separated by the chromatograph, they come out to bombarded by electron broken apart in the mass spectrometer Look at the fragments, the mass of fragments, and then the computer science part of it would be to look at those fragments and give a probability what that compound was And that became as a joint effort between people here And that machine it just come out in time for us to say now, we did know people worried about carcinogens and all the other things And so at the same time, we’re lucky Martin Rinehart who was just getting his PhD in Switzerland, he worked with a professor named Grob And Grob was head developer, what we called Capillary Column And so, Martin Rinehart came and agreed to come and work with us on it He brought with him, introduced United States capillary column chromatography, and before that we used these columns And when a compound emerged from a gas chromotograph it’s kinda spread out, and then another spread out and so they’re all mixed together But with column chromatography, you got a compound, came out like this Another came out like that And you could quantify them and so forth Martin introduced to the country, had to come here and build his own capillary columns and it’s standard through the world today But it came there so we did the analysis First analysis waste water Orange County and we started doing that here in looking at these compounds While we were looking in all the compounds that were after going through very advance treatment, and what we found coming out were these chlorinated solvents That was what was left after all this treatment And where did they come from? Silicon Valley, electronic industry used them in putting up their chips and so forth So we put them in the ground, we’re putting them in the ground down here And this what happens, the literature had just come out, national resources counsel said these compounds are non degradable We put them in the ground they disappeared So the students went and said, we better look at it in laboratory, they did aerobics and nothing happens anaerobic, they disappeared So here we had anaerobic processes And I just wanted to ndicate

Just a few years later, the National Research Council, wrote a report to demolish 300,000 to 400,000 sites in the country Department of Energy, Department of Defense, all industry, all electronics industry Car manufacturing, everybody was using this compound for cleaning, removing grease And when they looked at this big site, almost a trillion dollars, estimated to cut and clean this up from ground water And what were the two major contaminants? First is Trichloroethene, second was Tetrachloroethene, same thing we were finding, and they were disappearing, Anaerobically Now, let me just show a little bit of what happens You put these, you get these solvents, you clean up all your parts, or whatever, and they get all full and dirty They put them in a storage tank and call up somebody to take it away when the tank is full It was very corrosive, tanks corrode, and so it leaks out So, gee you never have to call anybody to come up and pick up your waste because it’s gone Well, where does it go? It’s goes to underground and that was happening everywhere So it’s heavier then water so it comes down, it hits, goes through the vatos unsaturated zone, hits ground water, keeps on going It may go down hundreds of feet and scatter around You don’t know what, it’s moving all kinds of directions And then when you have groundwater coming by, it’s very slightly soluble, it’ll pick up Now it’s slightly soluble, but those slightly soluble concentrations are maybe a 1000 or more times the drinking water standards They’re known some other suspected human carcinogens, and then, downstream you pick ‘ up, maybe it’s a mile, so, couple miles downstream, you take your groundwater’s contaminated We had it all around Stanford, from Stanford’s industrial park over here, Fair Child and so forth and so on, Hewlett Packard, we have these plumes coming in here, but that was throughout the country And so it was a big problem Well, these organisms are one possible way to solve it, and it’s not easy So we’ve good field sites, we did some on Moffett Field, we did a test station down there We’ve been to Edwards Air Force Base Trying to clean up the X-15 rocket plane plume that was moving out of St Joseph, Michigan, we did the work for Orange County in there So it’s not that simple But, I’ve gotta jump over this fast somewhat, and I just want to indicate what’s going on here Now we find out and this is complicated, there was some 30 years of work Microbiologist and engineers all over the world were working on this problem So, and I’ve gotta tell you all about that in a couple of minutes My first students, we went down the laboratory with this PCE, trichloroacetic acid, but we call it perchloroethylene And what happens, the bacteria, again, using that hydrogen, now where hydrogen come from? You have to have some organisms breaking down some other organic in producing this hydrogen Okay, and then the bacteria used that hydrogen and do reductive dehydrogenation Take off the chlorine and replace with the hydrogen and that gets it down from a four chlorines to three chlorines and then my first students found that when going down to the two carbon one there, by this process Then I had a next student, I said our gas chromatography wasn’t good enough to find out what’s next So by time we next student found out, well you go one further, remove more, you get vinyl chloride Now that’s what makes PVC pipe, but with showing up every place because of this process And it’s a know human carcinogen, so now this became a real problem We’re taking some bad, to make it worst >> [LAUGH] >> Well that would have been the end of the story I said my gosh, where do we go from here? And it was in ground waters, everybody’s still is So Jim Goss, another of my students, now working at Cornell, he was working on this And he found a culture that took it all the rest of the way to ethene Now this opened it up because ethene got rid of the chlorine, it’s not toxic So now, if we can get it all the way we can maybe solve this problem using micro organisms, but we’ve got to get it past the vinyl chloride I can’t tell you how many different organisms people worked on trying to solve this problem And this we thought with this was just a fortuitous thing the bacteria were doing If we get the chlorinated salt in us our enzymes break them down too, so I thought well an organism has these enzymes, and maybe they just sort of interact in their organism, not giving any benefit But, we found one of them, actually a former professor here, Alexander, was in the [INAUDIBLE], and he was here for

a year, we tried to hire him here as an assistant professor He was very good, came for a year, so I went through the process to try to get him hired Takes a long time now to got through and get the Dean’s office to approve it And then, and then >> [LAUGH] >> And then, go through, get all the preferences, hopefully Finally got a reference to him, called him up, he was in Switzerland at that time I said, Alex, gonna give you Assistant Professorship Why didn’t you call me yesterday? >> [LAUGH] >> I said why? He said, well in Netherlands they gave me full professor with tenure and head of the Biology Department >> [LAUGH] >> If you had called me two days ago, I would have went Stanford Yeah, yeah, sure [LAUGH] But anyway, he had a student, Chris Hollager, and Chris Hollger found an organism that went through these two first steps and showed the organism get this energy from doing that It’s growing on That’s how he gets his energy The chlorinated solvents, now hydrogen is the food, we think of organic matter, bacteria uses hydrogen just like the pathogen did, that’s their food, and it’s oxidized by something like we use oxygen These bacteria use chlorinated solvents as their oxygen, they breathe with chlorinated solvents and get their energy and live that way So anyway, so this went through so this opened up the whole field now we can really, if organism grow on it we can build up concentration to really do this well So in looking forward into, there are many different ones, and then finally my colleague in Cornell, and he had a Steve Zinder this time, very good microbiologist, and they were working on, trying to isolate this Of course, these organisms are really difficult to isolate They finally came out one and it was, that could take it all the way through here Now, this last step was kind of interesting This last step it did, but it didn’t get the energy from it and we could only do that step when it was doing something at the same time so it was not very, very efficient They called it the [INAUDIBLE] We had sample from Texas, Victoria, Texas DuPont We’re working with DuPont, and we had culture in that the laboratory that was taking it all away And we found out that it too, was living on it, not like the one in, in Cornell And Frank Loeffler who’s at Georgia Tech, he found one, that also, and they were the same organism essentially, have the same character But then [INAUDIBLE] was found in many many places, and they we’re doing different chlorinated solvent Some will do chlorinated PCE, they could PCB’s, they could do darks, and so So forth but they were all sort of the similar organism And so now the genomes of those organisms have been identified We’ve gotten several organisms identified finally Alfred’s organism, the one that and Fred Loffler’s his Now the enzymes are known, we know if you look at these organisms, let me just go ahead one more and show a book, 2016, just came out Lorenz Adrian, he got Dehalococcoides, he used chlorine, benzene from Loffler the under got one on that And so with that, they named it the Dehalococcoides, they decided it’s the same organism, they have different of the enzymes in them And the only thing this organism lives on is hydrogen and chlorinated solvents Where’d it come from? They’re all over the world And yet that’s what they live on That’s their thought There’s a cuter organism over there >> [LAUGH] >> And it has one of the smallest genomes like a pancake And my microbiology colleagues, I don’t know why they did this, but when they would finally get together, wrote an abstract to get this officially named, they put my name on it >> [LAUGH] >> That’s my organ >> [APPLAUSE] >> I’m really proud of that I don’t know >> [LAUGH] >> Anyway, I just wanna show this, just a whole list of compounds, this hydrogen, the first element in the universe Hydrogen is used as a food source by all of these different anaerobic organisms, except the first one, which is aerobic All these different organisms, we worked with halogenated organics, perchlorate, rocket fuel, Fairchild, Sacramento, rocket fuel Aero jet lab, lots of rocket fuel in the ground You can get rid of it with another group or organism Chromium, Erin Brockovich thing, you can reduce that, not get rid of the chromium,

but you can make it into a soluble form, so it won’t move in groundwater And going down to Oakridge Uranium, uranium, the soluble six, the only form that moves by reducing it, you can convert it back to an insoluble form, so it doesn’t move And so you can get this selenium and arsenic But anaerobic bacteria do many, many different things that we never thought possible Well, I want to switch over now After all those years, I had a group in Korea My former students shown on the left here, Jacob Bae, the black shirt called me up one day, and he said, Korea comes up with this world-class university program Which we can bring in senior health people to work with us to help improve our program And if we write a proposal, so I thought, well, I would really like to go back and wonder if it isn’t possible to treat more dilute organic waste We were successful doing industrial waste, but is it possible to do this with very dilute waste, like domestic wastewater? I didn’t think it was, all our work in the past suggested it wasn’t But we said, well, let’s see how far we can go So we had put in a proposal that was accepted And through a group of laboratory studies and then it worked We could really, in fact, much more, to tell the truth, I never thought this would happen We could get it down to as good as an aerobic treatment process We put in a pilot plant there that worked Worked at a wastewater treatment plant, temperatures down to 10 degrees Celsius, 8 degrees Celsius Detention times down there to four to six hours just like an aerobic treatment system, and it worked And the advantages of the anaerobic versus the aerobic is more energy neutral, so we didn’t have to put in this energy And since most of the energy goes off with methane, we get hardly any bacteria produced So we end up with very little biosolids, and 40 to 50% of the cost of treatment is often handling these waste bacteria And here we can reduce that, we get twice this much heat as well as energy, electrical energy out And here we have Bill Mitch in our group, and Dave Sedlak at Berkeley, we’re studying the effluent from our anaerobic system compare it with the aerobic system These contaminants, now, we’ve got contaminants merging in, certainly we’re worried about pharmaceuticals, personal care products What are they gonna do, and we’ve got a 96 median percent removal, aerobic system only 76% So we got excited by this, and now, brings into Craig Criddle Craig Criddle on our faculty was looking at because we’re developing new treatment processes here He’s working with the wastewater treatment individuals at Stanford and wanted to build a pilot scale system So we could kind of quickly emerge what we were doing in laboratory to full scale, and he was gonna put in an aerobic system And when he saw we didn’t treat it, he switched to make it an anaerobic system The system is now in post, this is a Codiga Resource Recovery Center, Stanford University And Bill Codiga, an emeritus law professor, and his wife Cloy provided money for us to help build this And Stanford built it, and one of the things Craig wanted as part of that is this anaerobic system, so there it is Ready to start It’s getting there, so this will be the first pilot plant of anaerobic treatment of domestic wastewater between faculty and student housing waste, and we’ll been soon subsiding it, and hopefully, we’ll see what happens I think this is the treatment system of the future, we’ll see I won’t be here to see that, but so I want to now just go on and just finish up and say all the things we do are based upon the students that we get And one thing about Stanford is the wonderful students that come in And these are my 40 PhD students that I’ve had over the years, working on the different processes And I just want to say how much I owe to them I wanna really thank them, and as well as to so many of my colleagues here at Stanford and throughout the world, which has made all these things possible Now, I wanna say something else I’m hoping these processes will be inexpensive and cheap But cutting the energy, maybe if we save only 3 or 4% of electrical energy by putting this process in, I think that’s important

One of the biggest problem that we have today, of course, is climate change It’s a very difficult problem And how are we gonna handle that? We can already see what’s going on, and when you look at this, it’s maybe just a few percent I like to always think of famous biologists Rene Dubos who at the beginning of the environmental movement in the 1970s was talking about think globally, act locally And I think that’s what we gotta do If we can do our 4% and you can do your 4% and you can do your 4% and you can do your 4% someday, we will all put it together, and we will get there, and I think that’s what we all have to do So I would like to remember that, that it’s just part But of course, the reclamation of water and climate change is gonna affect our water supply, so certainly that’s one of the major impacts it’s gonna have And so we’re getting droughts The droughts are probably gonna get worse And so we’ve gotta come up with better technology And we hope some of this may be part of that But I just wanna bring up another one that Rene Dubois I gave a talk many, many years ago at Cal Tech and Rene Dubois was there and he had a talk titled this, Trend is not destiny Well, can I make a four word statement that means so much? He was a genius But the important thing, he was an optimist, and he believed that if we knew people, if many, many times, we can all get many times Where if you know what’s happening You know the trend, you can see the trend and you know it’s bad, it’s inevitable Change it We can change it, we don’t have to wait til we get to the worst We don’t have to wait til the climate change temperature goes way up We can see it coming and we can change In a sense that’s what he’s saying Trend is not destiny It’s not a new statement I had an ancient Chinese proverb that says essentially same thing And I want to show that [LAUGH] Unless we change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed >> [LAUGH] >> So I think we all wanna remember that And hope we come along and finally I just like to show you picture of my favorite animal >> [LAUGH] >> And thank you all for coming and- >> [APPLAUSE] >> Thank you Thank you [APPLAUSE] >> Thank you very much >> [APPLAUSE] >> For that [INAUDIBLE] talk and also for the optimism It represents, which I think we all actually need a little of right now >> Yes [LAUGH] >> [LAUGH] Would you be willing to take a few questions? >> Sure >> So, are there any Yes [INAUDIBLE] But, I took a course called garbage from >> And masters? [LAUGH] >> No, it was undergraduate course called Municipal and Sanitation and it was nicknamed garbage by the students >> [LAUGH] But it was very enlightening, I learned a lot in one quarter and in your talk you didn’t say much about Dr Elias, and so I wondered if had an anecdote or something to add to your talk >> Well, well- >> Could you repeat the question? >> Yeah the question he was wondering about, Ralph Elias and who is the one who brought me here and started the program And when he came here he quickly, actually it’s a little bit of a story We had required courses in civil engineering, and so he had to teach one in environmental engineering and had to do with water supply treatment, not terribly interesting But he had this broad range of experience, so the Stanford School of Engineering, we used to have our course now with 180 graduate, 180, then it was about 250 And so they were trying to weed down that, so they had every department cut out a course And so Rolf Eliassen, it’s a required course He says, I’ll be glad not to treat mine as a required course anymore >> [LAUGH] >> And so they said, okay, so they wanted to find someone to volunteer So he said, now I’m free to teach what I wanna teach >> [LAUGH] >> And he started teaching this much broader environmental program And so it went from maybe 20 students to, I don’t know how big yours is maybe three or 400 Over half the Stanford students were taking his course and that was a very successful course So he made a big difference in introducing the environment to people

throughout the university >> Other questions? Yes? >> Are we seeing the municipalities going from aerobic to anaerobic in any big way in saving money? I understand it’s about the same footprint for the plants, what’s the progress in that area? >> What I showed you is the first ever built in the United States >> Infancy? >> Yes It’s like the first computer, when you got it, what it looked like [LAUGH] >> [LAUGH] >> I’m hoping 20 years from now it’ll look like we will make that same kind of progress, we’ll see That was a lot of hurdles that have to go on but we just gotta introduce and get people thinking about it There’s a lot of work going on, now if people interested in it we’ll just have to see if we could, it’s a long process to make a big change like that We hope it will happen >> Yeah, so another question there >> I see you asked where the comes from, do chlorinated solvents, are those all manmade? Or do they exist naturally before and- >> Repeat the question >> Yeah, the question was whether these chlorinated solvents, cuz we have made many, from the pesticides to chlorine and so forth But there are natural ones, so we have to suspect that how these organisms came about was in dealing with the natural There’s even some vinyl chloride, very small concentrations that are produced naturally, but there’s quite a few, especially in seawater and many different organisms, that are involved in their metabolic process producing some So in this these organism can do something, I don’t know But there are some naturals one and I think we have to say were probably, maybe there was what generated them >> In the very far back there? >> So, that’s a plastic column with the rocks inside it, it’s still chained up to the wall down in the basement >> [LAUGH] >> Does anyone wanna buy it? >> [LAUGH] >> We could auction it off >> Do you think if we feed it a little bit, in it’s 50th anniversary in a year or so, will it weight back up? >> I’m sure it will >> [LAUGH] >> [LAUGH] >> Maybe one last question There we go, yes >> Barry, I was wondering when you’d compare your aerobic approaches to anaerobic approaches and we think of places in the developing world where there’s so little waste water treatment Whether the probability and the ease of use of aerobic is superior to, or anaerobic is superior to aerobic In terms of it being an appropriate technology in our developing world where there’s so little waste product treatment >> Well I see no- >> Can you break in? >> The question is whether these anaerobic will become appropriate technology in the future Because aerobic is now, and aerobic’s hundred year anniversary they just had on the first development of aerobic treatment That thing has been around for a hundred years? It’s about a hundred I think the advantages are there And we improve things, once you find you We didn’t know This what we have here is our conceptual, it works It works, we know we can do it Now, can we improve it? Can we get around any problems that are there? And that’ll take time And I don’t really see at this point any major barriers that says that we can’t do it And that it has a lot of advantages Probably the biggest one besides energy is the low solvents production Which is a big headache at most plants in the world And if we get away of that I think it has really good potential We’ll see I won’t see, but you’ll see >> [LAUGH] >> Somebody will see My children will see My grandchildren will see >> [LAUGH] So we have a reception outside if you have further questions, we invite you to join but please join me in thanking Perry and recognizing his efforts >> [APPLAUSE]