A few words from
Aware of the need for a long-range program of basic research and graduate education in the field of hydrocarbon chemistry, the University of Southern California established its "Hydrocarbon Research Institute" in 1977. A generous donation from Donald and Katherine Loker helped build an outstanding facility which opened its doors in 1979. The University renamed the Institute the Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute in honor of the Lokers in 1984. In 1991, USC formally adopted "Guidelines" ascertaining the Institute's organization and its permanence.
Recognizing the growth of the Institute's work and scope, in 1989 Katherine Loker donated funds to construct a new wing that opened its doors in 1995. The Katherine Bogdanovich Loker Wing gave home to state-of-the-art laboratories, instrument facilities, and the George and Judith Olah Library. In 1998, continuing her tradition of giving, Mrs. Loker donated funds that fundamentally changed the Institute's long-term fi nancial independence. Other major gifts, particularly by the late Harold E. Moulton, his son Thomas, and the John Stauffer Charitable Trust have greatly advanced the Institute's progress. Dr. Carl M. Franklin, emeritus vice-president of USC, a strong supporter and founding board member, has been tireless in pursuing support for the Institute. The Institute is profoundly grateful for the support of them all.
Hydrocarbons derived from petroleum, natural gas or coal are essential in many ways to modern life and its quality. The bulk of the world's
hydrocarbons is used for fuels, electrical power generation, and heating. The chemical, petrochemical, plastics and rubber industries are also dependent upon hydrocarbons as raw materials for their products. Indeed, most industrially-signifi cant synthetic chemicals are derived from petroleum sources. The overall oil use of the world now exceeds ten million metric tons a day. Ever increasing world population and energy consumption and finite non-renewable fossil fuel resources are clearly on a collision course.
Even if technologies to generate energy from other sources are further developed (i.e. atomic, solar, wind, etc.), a concentrated research effort will be required to fi nd long-range solutions for future hydrocarbon needs. The effort must include the development of alternative hydrocarbon sources, a search for new chemistry directed towards exploitation of renewable fuels, as well as the development of more effi cient ways of utilizing and recycling our present resources.
The final solution to the hydrocarbon shortage will come only when mankind can produce unlimited cheap energy as with the promise of safer
atomic energy and other alternate sources. With abundant cheap energy, hydrogen can be produced from sea water and then combined with carbon
dioxide to produce hydrocarbons. In the meantime, however, it is essential that solutions be found that are feasible within the framework of our existing
technological base. The Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute is at the forefront of this effort.