Dr. Ronald Sheinson Recognized with EPA's Best-of-the-Best Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award

10/15/2007 - 55-07r
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Dr. Ronald Sheinson, a chemist at the Naval Research Laboratory, has received a 2007 Best-of-the-Best Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "for leadership in research, development, and system design in alternatives to halon." These EPA awards recognize "the most exceptional global contributions in the first two decades of the Montreal Protocol" by organizations or individuals that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and personal dedication in either technical achievements in eliminating ozone-depleting substances or protecting the public from the effects of exposure to increased ultraviolet radiation.

The 2007 Best-of-the-Best Awards were given on September 19 in Montreal, Canada. The award ceremony celebrated the 20-year anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty initiated in Montreal designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of substances responsible for ozone depletion, such as halon (used in shipboard fire fighting).

Dr. Sheinson, who came to NRL after earning his Ph.D. in chemical physics from M.I.T. in 1970, works in the Navy Technology Center for Safety and Survivability at NRL. He is regarded world-wide as one of the foremost authorities in fire suppression technologies and has made significant contributions to the global effort to eliminate halons, according to the award citation. He has worked on fire suppression and halon replacement issues for over 30 years. As the head of the Combustion Dynamics Section, his individual efforts and initiatives have been critical in enabling the U.S. Navy's elimination of Halon 1301 use on new construction vessels.

Dr. Sheinson formulated and managed the U.S. Navy's comprehensive halon replacement research, development, and testing program, which began in the early 1990's. This program was the most comprehensive halon replacement research program in the world, and much of the work done under this program supported government and industry halon-replacements efforts world-wide. Without his scientific knowledge and leadership, undoubtedly the rapid phase-out of halons in shipboard applications would not have been possible.

Dr. Sheinson's efforts span basic and applied research, through system development and implementation. The CVN-76 and LPD-17 class ships employ the patented system and specific design guidance developed by Dr. Sheinson and his group. The Army removed halon systems from over 60 of its watercraft, from machinery spaces up to 2,000 cubic meters, and replaced them with systems based on his patent and guidance.

Dr. Sheinson's broader contributions include technology transfer via many publications and presentations. His early research on the mechanisms of flame suppression served as the basis for industry design of the chemical molecular structure that has become the most widely employed gaseous halon replacement. He serves as a plank holder technical coordinating committee member of the U.S. DoD-DOE-EPA SERDP Next Generation Fire Suppression Technology Program, responsible for formulating and executing a $26 million program. Since 1990 he has served as a U.S. Government member on, and consulting expert to, the United Nations Environment Program Halons Technical Options Committee. The committee provides guidance to the international government parties for formulating adjustments and amendments to the Montreal Protocol Treaty regarding halon issues. The committee also advises on granting countries production exemptions for halons, and advising both developed and developing countries on phasing out production and usage of halons, including via workshops and technical reports.

Dr. Sheinson and his co-workers have been previously recognized by the EPA. During the twenty years the Montreal Protocol has been in force as an international treaty, the EPA has conferred approximately 500 Stratospheric Ozone Protection Awards to a broad variety of international entities. Dr. Sheinson received this award previously, as did the Navy Technology Center for Safety & Survivability (Code 6180) and NRL itself, in large part due to Dr. Sheinson's contributions. The 2007 Best-of-the-Best Awards represent the selection of the best ten percent of the previous corporation, government, military, association, team and individual recipients.

The Best-of-the-Best Awards are for contributing very significantly in one of six categories. The selection of Dr. Sheinson as an individual was based on ongoing contributions, as well as past efforts, in no less than five of the six accomplishment categories, namely:

  • Basic Science and Research
  • Application/Use of Alternative Chemical and/or Process
  • Technology Development and Deployment
  • Political, Governmental or Societal Leadership
  • Communications, Outreach and Technology Transfer

The only category not specifically cited was contributing directly to Public Health Protection.

The award was presented by Mr. Alex A. Beehler, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Environment, Safety and Occupational Health), and Ms. Drusilla Hufford, Director of the EPA Stratospheric Protection Division. Mr. Donald R. Schregardus, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Environment) was also in attendance.

In commenting about receiving this 2007 Best-of-the-Best Award, Dr. Sheinson noted, "This was indeed a distinguished honor."

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