Christopher Saffron, Ph.D.

Christopher Saffron

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Dr. Chris Saffron’s research program investigates the use of thermochemical, electrochemical, and catalytic technologies for converting plant biomass into liquid fuels, solid fuels, and higher value products.  His students have developed electrocatalytic techniques for pyrolysis oil stabilization and upgrading to produce hydrocarbon fuels.  Using electrocatalytic reduction, the energy upgrading of lignin-derived phenolics to form cyclohexanol and alkyl cyclohexanols is an active area of interest.  Recently, his group has begun examining the regional deployment of these deconstruction and conversion technologies in small-scale biomass upgrading depots to balance the competing forces of “economies of scale” and “economies of transportation.” Sustainability analyses, including life-cycle assessment and technoeconomic modeling, are performed to better design renewable energy systems and to inform public policy. His research team is currently working with numerous industrial partners as well as state and federal agencies to better understand the mechanisms controlling the productivity of these technologies and to foster strategies that alleviate the risks associated with their eventual commercialization.