Summary of Activities/Interests
Research Engineer, Chevron Energy Technology Company (2007-2010)
Lead Research Engineer, Chevron Energy Technology Company (2010)
Assistant Professor, University of Notre Dame (2010 - present)
B.S. Chemistry, Kentucky Wesleyan College (2003)
B.E. Chemical Engineering, Vanderbilt University (2003)
Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology (2007)
Our research group is primarily focused in the area of heterogeneous catalysis. We seek to understand how the properties and structures of catalysts affect activity and selectivity for specific reactions. We couple our experimental results with detailed characterization of the heterogeneous catalysts to develop relationships between the catalyst structure and the resulting catalytic activity. We currently have projects focused on the synthesis and characterization of new catalytic materials for biofuels applications. For these reactions, we examine many catalytic processes to convert biomass to biofuels: catalytic pyrolysis, catalytic liquefaction, and gasification. In other projects, we are employing new synthesis procedures to enhance the stability of metal-organic framework catalytic materials.
Bio-derived Fuels and Chemicals - In 2008, as reported by the US DOE, the US motor gasoline consumption was approximately 9,000,000 barrels/day. Due to the world’s diminishing petroleum resources and increasing environmental concerns, the requirement to develop simple, cost effective processes to generate transportation fuels from biomass-based resources is paramount. Currently, however, the components missing from the implementation of an economic process to convert biomass materials into liquid transportation fuels are robust catalysts capable of handling high oxygen and high ash (alkali metals) content feeds. Our research is focused on synthesizing robust heterogeneous catalysts with high activity and selectivity for oxygen removal: zeolites, hierarchical zeolites, multi-functional catalysts, and bimetallic catalysts.
Surface-Tailored Mesoporous Oxides – Mesoporous materials, such as MCM-41 and SBA-15, have been used as supports for a wide range of applications: catalysis, separations, and sensing. The advantage of using these materials is their ability to be modified to fit almost any application based on the surface functionality added to the oxide. Our interest in these materials is the development of new materials with applications in catalysis. Specifically, we design and synthesize various ligand/metal combinations on the support surface to test the usefulness of these materials as catalysts.
Hicks, J.C. Advances in C–O Bond Transformations in Lignin-Derived Compounds for Biofuels Production. J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 2:2280-2287, 2011.
Hicks, J.C.; Dabestani, R.; Buchanan III, A. C.; Jones, C. W. Spacing and Site Isolation of Amine Groups in 3-Aminopropyl-Grafted Silica Materials –the Role of Protecting Groups.. Chem. Mater., 18:5022-5032, 2006.
Hicks, J.C.; Drese, J.; Fauth, D.J.; Gray, M.; Qi, G.G.; Jones, C.W. Designing Adsorbents for CO2 Capture From Flue Gas - Hyperbranched Aminosilicas Capable of Capturing CO2 Reversibly. J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 130:2902-2903, 2008.
Hicks, J.C.; Jones, C.W. Controlling the Density of Amine Sites on Silica Surfaces Using Benzyl Spacers. Langmuir, 22:2676-2681, 2006.
Hicks, J.C.; Mullis, B.A.; Jones, C.W. Sulfonic Acid Functionalized SBA-15 Silica as a Methylaluminoxane-Free Cocatalyst/Support for Ethylene Polymerization. J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 129:8426-8427, 2007.
Hicks, J.C.; Dabestani, R.; Buchanan III, A.C.; Jones, C.W. Assessing Site-Isolation of Amine Groups on Aminopropyl-Functionalized SBA-15 Materials via Spectroscopic and Reactivity Probes. Inorganica Chimica Acta, 361:3024-3032, 2008.