June 16, 2022
Staff Accomplishment

PNNL Trio Receive Adjunct Appointments at Washington State University

Bioenergy experts working closely with Bioproducts Institute and students

Three men standing by statue of cougar

Karthikeyan Ramasamy, Mike Thornton, and Huamin Wang have received adjunct appointments at Washington State University to further bioenergy research.

(Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Three bioenergy researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have received adjunct appointments with Washington State University (WSU).

Karthikeyan Ramasamy, Mike Thorson, and Huamin Wang began their appointments in March 2022 with WSU’s Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering.

“These positions will help us work more closely with the WSU-PNNL Bioproducts Institute and WSU professors in developing joint research programs and projects,” said Ramasamy. “Additionally, we will work closely with the students on research.”

Currently, they are partnering with WSU doctoral graduate students to explore a catalyst for important reactions in biomass-derived oxygenate conversion, as well as providing advice on development of a pathway to convert low-cost renewable feedstock, such as food waste, to sustainable aviation fuel. Additionally, they are mentoring an undergraduate student who is helping develop a strategy for upgrading oxygenates in the hydrothermal liquefaction waste aqueous stream.

Ramasamy received his PhD in chemical engineering at WSU. He joined PNNL in 2009, where he is a chief chemical engineer. His research is focused on developing catalysts for producing renewable chemicals, marine fuels, and sustainable aviation fuels from waste feedstocks such as municipal solid waste and residual biomass. Ramasamy led a workshop on sustainable aviation fuel in 2020 which culminated in a report that served as a call for action for the biofuels industry.

Thorson joined PNNL in 2018 and is a senior research engineer and project manager who brought industrial research expertise from his previous role at Dow Chemical. His research is focused on hydrothermal liquefaction for converting wet wastes to fuels and chemicals. He also conducts research for developing catalysts to produce renewable fuels and chemicals.

Wang joined PNNL in 2011 and is a chief chemical engineer. His research at PNNL involves catalyst and process development for transforming biomass to fuels and chemicals, with a specific focus on catalytic upgrading of biomass-derived liquid intermediates. He also conducts fundamental research for understanding transition metal oxide catalysts for oxygenate conversion.