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Environmental Cost of Fracking Focus of Penn State Chemist's Talk

(Posted October 31, 2011)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Frank Dorman, associate professor of chemistry at Penn State University, will speak on "Forensic Investigations of Hydraulic Fracking Fluids," at Juniata College at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 8, in the Sill Board Room in the von Liebig Center for Science.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The lecture is part of the local section meeting for the American Chemical Society held that day on campus.

Hydraulic fracturing fluids are used as part of a method to recover natural gas deposits from shale, and in Pennsylvania in particular, from the Marcellus Shale. The drilling industry claims fracking methods are completely safe, while several environmental groups disagree. To determine where and how an environmentally damaging event occurred, a forensic investigation of samples must be done to determine if contamination has occurred and determine who is the principle polluter.

Dorman will talk about potential methods for sampling, sample preparation and analysis that will make such investigations more accurate.

Dorman has been a chemistry professor at Penn State since 2010, where he is a member of the Forensics Science Program in the university's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He also has been a part-time assistant professor in research at Juniata since 2003.

Before starting his career in higher education, Dorman worked in a variety of positions at Restek Inc. in State College, Pa. from 1996 to 2010. He was director of technical development at the company from 2000 to 2010. He also worked at Inchcape Testing Services from 1991 to 1996.

His research focuses on gas and liquid chromatography to trace analysis in complex samples.

Dorman earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1987 from Juniata and went on to earn a doctoral degree in analytical chemistry in 1993 from the University of Vermont.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.