Chemistry and Biochemistry

Dr. Daniel Ess, Assistant Professor, Becomes a Principal Investigator in the Department of Energy Center for Catalytic Hydrocarbon Functionalization

Posted: Oct 27, 2010

Professor Daniel Ess, the newest member of the BYU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty, was recently appointed to the Center for Catalytic Hydrocarbon Functionalization (CCHF), a prestigious energy frontier research center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Dr. Ess will be joining the CCHF as a principal investigator. “This means I am one of 12 professors at institutions from around the US that are focused on designing catalysts to selectively functionalize hydrocarbons; that is, to convert natural gas and other petroleum resources into more useful products. I will be directing computational research within my group and also collaborate with other principal investigators that perform experiments. Much of what I will do is to use theory to predict catalysts. The other principal investigators in this group are some of the world's most renowned chemists,” Dr. Ess said.

“This is a great accomplishment and especially for a young assistant professor during his first year,” Department Chair Dr. Greg Burton said.

The mission of the Center for Catalytic Hydrocarbon Functionalization as described on the Department of Energy's website is to “develop, validate, and optimize new methods to” change simple hydrocarbon molecules such as methane into more complex materials used in industry.

The CCHF’s website states that “The Center for Catalytic Hydrocarbon Functionalization fosters collaborations between groups with expertise in catalysis, inorganic chemistry, electrochemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, materials chemistry, organic chemistry and quantum mechanics to enable fundamental advancements in the design and development of next generation catalysts for selective, low temperature, hydrocarbon functionalization. 

The CCHF is led by the University of Virginia and is partnered with ten other notable institutions including University of California Berkeley, Princeton, and Yale University.

“It is a pretty big honor to be a part of this with 12 other highly famous chemists,” Dr. Ess said.

By Jessica Henrie