George Andrew Olah

George Andrew Olah (born May 22, 1927 in Budapest, as Oláh György) is a Hungarian-born American chemist. He was significant in stabilizing and in studying carbocations via superacids. He won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1994. Soon after, he was awarded the Priestley Medal, the highest honor granted by the American Chemical Society.


Olah studied, then taught, at what is now Budapest University of Technology and Economics. As a result of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, he and his family moved briefly to England and then to Canada where he joined Dow Chemical in Sarnia, Ontario, with another Hungarian chemist, Dr. Stephen J. Kuhn. Olah's pioneering work on carbocations started during his eight years with Dow. In 1965 he returned to academia at Case Western Reserve University and then to University of Southern California in 1977. In 1971, Olah became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Olah is currently a distinguished professor at the University of Southern California and the director of the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute. In 2005, Olah wrote an essay promoting the methanol economy.


The search for stable carbocations lead to the discovery of protonated methane which was stabilized by superacids, like FSO3H-SbF5 ("Magic Acid").

CH4 + H+ → CH5+

In recent years, his research has shifted from hydrocarbons and their transformation into fuel to the methanol economy.


* George A. Olah, Alain Goeppert, G.K. Surya Prakash, Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy, Angewandte Chemie International Edition Volume 44, Issue 18, Pages 2636 - 2639, 2005

* Nobel Prize website


* Methanol as an alternative fuel Recording of a discussion with George Olah broadcast on NPR.

* My Search for Carbocations and Their Role in Chemistry Nobel Lecture, December 8, 1994 by George A. Olah

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