Chester Upham

Assistant Professor

Office: CHBE 429



Research Summary

Heterogeneous catalysis, clean energy, CO2-free chemical conversion, GHGs-to-fuels


Stanford University, 2019, Postdoctoral Scholar

University of California Santa Barbara, 2017, Ph.D.

McGill University, 2010, B.Eng.

Research interests + projects

  • Reaction engineering
  • Kinetics and understanding reaction mechanisms
  • Liquid heterogeneous catalysts
  • Integration of reaction and separation
  • Natural gas conversion
  • Chemical looping for process intensification and thermodynamic equilibrium perturbation

Today, 75% of the anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions come from carbon dioxide from the energy and chemical sectors. In the future, CO2-free transportation fuels along processes that produce solid phase carbon or storable carbonates will be important as CO2 emissions become increasingly undesirable and costly to emit. The overall goal of our research is to understand and develop catalysts and processes to produce chemicals, power, and materials in environmentally sustainable ways.

Experiments in CHBE’s Catalysis Labs are used to infer mechanisms and develop new catalysts. The techniques used include operando IR spectroscopy, pulsed and transient analysis of reaction mechanisms, isotopic labeling studies, in-situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy, and many other characterization tools. Modeling and collaborations with theorists enhance our understanding. We are particularly interested in understanding how liquid heterogeneous catalysts behave under reaction conditions.

Full publications list

Selected publications + presentations

Clarke Palmer, D. Chester Upham, Simon Smart, Michael Gordon, Horia Metiu, and Eric W. McFarland. Dry reforming of methane catalyzed by molten metal alloys. Nature Catalysis, 2020 3 83-89.

D. Chester Upham, Alexander Khechfe, Vishal Agarwal, Zachary Snodgrass, Michael Gordon, Horia Metiu, and Eric W. McFarland. Catalytic molten metals for the direct conversion of methane to hydrogen and separable carbon. Science, 2017 358 (6365) 917-921.

D. Chester Upham, Marat Orazov, Thomas F. Jaramillo, Phosphate passivated mordenite for tandem-catalytic conversion of syngas to ethanol or acetic acid. Journal of Catalysis, 2021 399 132-141.

Jonathan Snyder, Verena Streibel, McKenzie Hubert, Tej Choksi, Eduardo Valle, D. Chester Upham, Julia Shumann, Melis Duyar, Alessandro Gallo, Frank Abild-Pedersen, Thomas Jaramillo. Revealing the synergy between oxide and alloy phases on the performance of bimetallic In-Pd catalysts for CO2 hydrogenation to methanol. ACS Catalysis, 2019 9 (4) 3399-3412.

Gregory Von Wald, Mohammad Masnadi, D Chester Upham, Adam Brandt, Sustainable Energy & Fuels, 2020 4 (9) 4598-4613.