Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame



Thomas Degnan

Office:  240C McCourtney Hall

Phone:  574-631-2617


Department Website

Current Positions
Tony and Sarah Earley Professor of Energy and the Environment
Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

M.B.A., Finance and Management, University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management
Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware
B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Notre Dame

Research Interests
I have a previous 38-year industrial R&D career. Thirty-four of those years were spent in the central/corporate research or process research laboratories of major international petroleum companies (Mobil and then ExxonMobil). My principal expertise is in heterogenous catalysis. I was involved in the development of quite a few industrial catalytic processes during my career with Mobil, ExxonMobil, and with 3M Company before that. Several of these processes were aimed at mitigating emissions (NOx via SCR) or SOx removal. For the last six years of my career, I was Breakthrough and New Leads Manager for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering. In this capacity, I was involved in working with small- and medium-sized companies, as well as many major universities to identify novel, very high value (NPV >$250M) opportunities for the refining and petrochemical businesses. I was also the key technical and scientific liaison (and interface) between ExxonMobil and Stanford's Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP). At the end of my career with ExxonMobil, I was involved in the development of the Corporation's strategy for university Energy Center Engagement and for the negotiation of collaborations and sponsorships with several major universities (the contract with MIT's Energy Initiative was announced in October). I have a longstanding interest in energy efficiency. Many of the programs launched though the Breakthrough effort were focused on environmental mitigation as well as energy efficiency opportunities. The major attributes I bring to ND Energy (and its Faculty) is having an insider's perspective from the commercial side and having developed an extensive network of colleagues in the energy area. My main interest, however, remains in the area of catalysis. I have experience in all aspects of catalysis from fundamental scientific research, to exploratory research, to development, and finally in commercialization.

Relevant Energy Publications

  1. T. F. Degnan, “Recent Progress in the Development of Zeolitic Catalysts for the Petroleum Refining and Petrochemical Manufacturing Industries”, Stud. Surf. Sci. & Catal, Elsevier, Vol 170(B), pp. 54-65 (2007).
  2. T. F. Degnan, "Advanced Catalyst Technology and Applications for High Quality Fuels and Lubricants” Catalysis Today - Special Edition, 104, pp. 55 - 63 (2005) (with M. C. Kerby, J. B. Beck, D. O. Marler).
  3. T. F. Degnan, “Applications of Zeolites in Petroleum Refining”, Catalysis Topics in Catalysis, 13 (4), 347 (2000).
  4. P. J. Angevine and T. F. Degnan, “Refiner Outlines Approach to Hydroprocessing Catalyst Selection and Development”, Oil & Gas Journal, Volume 96, No. 41 (1998).
  5. N.Y.Chen, T.F.Degnan, and L.R.Koenig, "Liquid Fuel from Biomass: Direct Conversion of Carbohydrates", CHEMTECH, Aug. 1986.