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Technology-Based Solutions for the Environment

Employee Spotlight: John Freim, Director of Materials Science

Author: Dane Menke
Date: January 31, 2018

John FreimWith a career that includes research grants from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Department of Energy (DOE), Missile Defense Agency (MDA), along with grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and U.S. Air Force (USAF), and successful entrepreneurial environmental remediation experience, Dr. John Freim brings a distinguished track record to his new role as Director of Materials Science at REGENESIS®. With over 30 years of expertise in materials processing, and 15 years in the environmental remediation industry, Dr.  Freim would seem to be the ideal choice to join REGENESIS and lead the effort to establish the company’s first state-of-the-art colloidal product manufacturing facility. Before joining REGENESIS, Freim had been serving as President of OnMaterials, which he founded as a “conduit” of sorts to use his expertise in the synthesis and processing of nanopowders and other engineered materials.  His research grants from the EPA, NIH, and USAF enabled Freim to develop procedures to affordably manufacture and apply ZVI remediation amendments to contaminated soil and groundwater. Subsequently, in 2003, OnMaterials began selling ZVI products and services to environmental contractors that resulted in several hundred product applications.

Joining the REGENESIS Team

With a Ph.D.. in Materials Science from the University of California San Diego (UCSD), and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, coupled with his professional experience, Freim is confident in his new role with REGENESIS. Shares Dr. Freim, “I will be involved in both the design and implementation of materials and processes to manufacture colloidal materials, including PlumeStop®, colloidal iron, and new products used in environmental remediation.”  His work in materials science, which includes several patents involving the use of novel engineered nanomaterials, combined with the success of his Escondido-based firm OnMaterials, provided an ideal opportunity to join the REGENESIS team.  Continues Freim, “OnMaterials’ and REGENESIS’ product lines are synergistic in that both include engineered, value-added materials for in situ remediation.  In fact, in many instances these materials can be applied together into contaminated soil and groundwater. Joining forces with REGENESIS allows access to their worldwide sales, marketing and distribution networks, as well as their research team and facilities.”

Although Dr. Freim has acquired three decades of expertise in materials science, it was not until 2000 that he developed a keen interest in environmental remediation, when an environmental consulting firm asked if he would leverage his experience in materials synthesis and processing to produce colloidal iron for environmental remediation.   Encouraged by the positive results, he decided to focus his research efforts to produce colloidal iron and other products specifically for use in environmental remediation.

Keeping an Eye Toward the Future of Remediation

For the environmental industry, his commitment and aim in this area could not be more timely. He continues, “With a nod towards the future, many sites that could be addressed using routine remediation protocols have been successfully addressed.  We are now seeing an increasing percentage of what remains requiring improved and advanced materials and protocols.” When asked which specific REGENESIS departments are likely to garner the majority of his attention, Freim says Operations, R&D, Sales and Marketing and Field Services are at the top of the list.

A native of Illinois, and with professional work experience in South Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, and Colorado, Dr. Freim and his family reside in Escondido, CA. With their two children now in college, Freim and his wife enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, with alpine skiing and travel as favorites. On the travel ledger, he and his wife have visited six continents that include nearly 30 countries. One memorable trip in particular includes traveling to Norway last November, and visiting the town where his grandfather was born. Shares Freim, “My grandfather, John Freim Sr., emigrated to the U.S. from Norway in 1912 at age 16. There are fewer than 100 Freims in the world today and all of them share ancestry to the Freim farm in Odda, NOR. We explored the Freim farm, which dates to the 17th century, and saw the house where and was born, and a tree which my grandfather planted when he was young. It was a wonderful trip and experience.”

When not working or planning his next international trip, Dr. Freim serves on review panels at the National Institutes of Health’s environmental health division (NIEHS).  He continues, “Every six months I travel to Washington, DC and review proposals of new environmental technologies.  My experience as a small business owner and former award recipient helps evaluate the commercial potential of these new environmental technologies.” Asked what the most rewarding aspect is about his work, Freim emphasizes it’s about developing customer relationships and seeing professional results. “Interacting with customers and others in the environmental industry and delivering quality products and services on time and within budget are just two areas of my work that are especially rewarding.”  And the biggest challenge? “Although the in situ remediation products often react very quickly with contaminated soil and groundwater, the regulatory environment can result in long business cycles, which can make it difficult to keep up with projects that conceptualized many months or years ago.” When asked how he would encourage others to join his field of study, he cites patience as being especially important. He concludes, “My advice to those considering a career in environmental remediation is to anticipate and embrace changes because the materials and methods used to practice environmental remediation industry are always improving and can change rapidly.

REGENESIS is proud to welcome Dr. John Freim, Director of Materials Science, to the REGENESIS team, and looks forward to his leadership and expertise in helping to establish a state-of-the-art colloidal product manufacturing facility for the company and its clients.