Ba Tran is a synthetic chemist in the Physical and Computational Sciences Directorate of PNNL since 2016. He is currently involved in the research activities of the core Office of Basic Energy Sciences (DOE) catalysis and hydrogen storage program. Prior to joining PNNL, he worked in industry on the development of biopolymers, agrochemicals, and olefin metathesis catalysts.

Research Interest

Designing metal hydride complexes and performing mechanistic studies for catalysis related to energy research, such as feedstock upgrading and understanding the hydrogenation-dehydrogenation cycles for hydrogen storage and release from chemical bonds.

Identifying potential solutions for the safe, long-term storage of hydrogen and its efficient release from chemical bonds by understanding the roles of catalysis, kinetics, thermodynamics, process engineering, and energy requirements.


  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of California, Berkeley
  • PhD in Chemistry, Indiana University, Bloomington
  • BS in Chemistry, University of California, San Diego

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • American Chemical Society



  • Mevawala C.R., K.P. Brooks, M.E. Bowden, H. Breunig, B.L. Tran, O.Y. Gutierrez-Tinoco, and S. Autrey, et al. 2023. "The ethanol - ethyl acetate system as a biogenic hydrogen carrier." Energy Technology 11, no. 1:Art. No. 2200892. PNNL-SA-169753. doi:10.1002/ente.202200892
  • Patrick E.A., M.E. Bowden, J.D. Erickson, R.M. Bullock, and B.L. Tran. 2023. "Single-Crystal to Single-Crystal Transformations: Stepwise CO2 Insertions into Bridging Hydrides of [(NHC)CuH]2 Complexes." Angewandte Chemie International Edition. PNNL-SA-185775. doi:10.1002/anie.202304648
  • Tran B.L., J.D. Erickson, A.L. Speelman, and R.M. Bullock. 2023. "Mechanistic Studies of Carbonyl Allylation Mediated by (NHC)CuH: Isoprene Insertion, Allylation and ß-Hydride Elimination." Inorganic Chemistry 62, no. 1:342-352. PNNL-SA-180376. doi:10.1021/acs.inorgchem.2c03402


  • Allendorf M.D., V. Stavila, J.L. Snider, M. Witman, M.E. Bowden, K.P. Brooks, and B.L. Tran, et al. 2022. "Challenges to developing materials for the transport and storage of hydrogen." Nature Chemistry 14, no. 11:1214–1223. PNNL-SA-156815. doi:10.1038/s41557-022-01056-2
  • Carroll T.G., D.E. Ryan, J.D. Erickson, R.M. Bullock, and B.L. Tran. 2022. "Isolation of a Cu-H Monomer Enabled by Remote Steric Substitution of a N-Heterocyclic Carbene Ligand: Stoichiometric Insertion and Catalytic Hydroboration of Internal Alkenes." Journal of the American Chemical Society 144, no. 30:13865–13873. PNNL-SA-167662. doi:10.1021/jacs.2c05376
  • Ghosh S., H. Agarwal, M. Galib, B.L. Tran, M. Balasubramanian, N. Singh, and J.L. Fulton, et al. 2022. "Near-Quantitative Predictions of the First-Shell Coordination Structure of Hydrated First-Row Transition Metal Ions Using K-Edge X-ray Absorption Near-Edge Spectroscopy." The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 13, no. 27:6323 - 6330. PNNL-SA-173416. doi:10.1021/acs.jpclett.2c01532
  • Leick N., B.L. Tran, M.E. Bowden, T. Gennett, and S. Autrey. 2022. "Thermal stability and structural studies on the mixtures of Mg(BH4)2 and glymes." Dalton Transactions 51, no. 18:7268 - 7273. PNNL-SA-172560. doi:10.1039/d2dt01106a
  • Mevawala C.R., S. Autrey, K.P. Brooks, M.E. Bowden, B.L. Tran, and K. Mueller. 2022. "1,4-Butanediol as a Hydrogen Carrier: Liquid- versus Gas- Phase Dehydrogenation." Energy and Fuels. PNNL-SA-180578. doi:10.1021/acs.energyfuels.2c03355
  • Nayyar I.H., B. Ginovska, M. Bowden, G. Edvenson, B. Tran, and T. Autrey. 2002. “Analysis of Intermediates and Products from the Dehydrogenation of Mg(BH4)2.” J. Phys. Chem. A, 2022, ASAP. PNNL-SA-168448. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpca.1c09690.


  • Gigante A., N. Leick, A.S. Lipton, B.L. Tran, N.A. Strange, M.E. Bowden, and M. Martinez, et al. 2021. “Thermal conversion of unsolvated Mg(B3H8)2 to BH4- in the presence of MgH2.” ACS Applied Energy Materials 4, no. 4:3737-3747. PNNL-SA-158858. doi:10.1021/acsaem.1c00159.
  • Speelman A.L., B.L. Tran, J.D. Erickson, M. Vasiliu, D.A. Dixon, and R.M. Bullock. 2021. “Accelerating the insertion reactions of (NHC)Cu-H via remote ligand functionalization.” Chemical Science 12, no. 34:11495. PNNL-SA-160159. doi:10.1039/d1sc01911b.
  • Tran B.L., S. Johnson, K.P. Brooks, and S. Autrey. 2021. “Ethanol as a Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier for Seasonal Microgrid Application: Catalysis, Theory, and Engineering Feasibility.” ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 9, no. 20:7130-7138. PNNL-SA-160818. doi:10.1021/acssuschemeng.1c01513.
  • Tran B.L., T. Allen, M.E. Bowden, S. Autrey, and C.M. Jensen. 2021. “Effects of Glymes on the Distribution of Mg(B10H10) and Mg(B12H12) from the Thermolysis of Mg(BH4)2.” Inorganics 9, no. 6:article 41. PNNL-SA-161527. doi:10.3390/inorganics9060041.


  • Tran B.L., B.D. Neisen, A.L. Speelman, B. Gunasekara, E.S. Wiedner, and R.M. Bullock. 2020. “Mechanistic Studies on the Insertion of Carbonyl Substrates into Cu-H: Different Rate-Limiting Steps as a Function of Electrophilicity.” Angewandte Chemie 59, no. 22:8645-8653. PNNL-SA-150267. doi:10.1002/anie.201916406.


  • Tran B.L., J.L. Fulton, J.C. Linehan, M. Balasubramanian, J.A. Lercher, and R.M. Bullock. 2019. “Operando XAFS Studies on Rh(CAAC)-Catalyzed Arene Hydrogenation.” ACS Catalysis 9, no. 5:4106-4114. PNNL-SA-139703. doi:10.1021/acscatal.8b04929.


  • Tran B.L., J.L. Fulton, J.C. Linehan, J.A. Lercher, and R.M. Bullock. 2018. “Rh(CAAC)-Catalyzed Arene Hydrogenation: Evidence for Nanocatalysis and Sterically Controlled Site-Selective Hydrogenation.” ACS Catalysis 8, no. 9:8441-8449. PNNL-SA-130529. doi:10.1021/acscatal.8b02589.