Technology Transfer

As a Center for Chemical Innovation, CENTC’s mission was to address challenging problems in catalysis and provide enabling science. Specific research projects were chosen based on their potential for high impact both within the scientific community and in terms of science that could be translated to applications and new technologies. 

Ownership of intellectual property developed as a result of CENTC research is associated with the universities where the research was performed. Technologies available for joint development, licensing, or other beneficial relationships with CENTC partner universities include:

The technology involves a dual catalyst system that is used to optimize the yield of useable clean fuels produced in biomass-to-liquid, gas-to-liquid, and coal-to-liquid processes by shifting the molecular weight distribution of the blend of fuel products to the blend desired.

Inventors: Alan Goldman, Maurice Brookhart, Amy Roy MacArthur, Ritu Ahuja, Zheng Huang
U.S. Patents 7,902,417 and 8,362,312
Contact: UNC Office of Technology Development

New catalysts for the oxidation of water to oxygen (O2) have been invented. The electrocatalytic oxidation of water to O2 is a key part of the production of fuels (such as hydrogen, H2) from electrical energy. The catalysts are coordination complexes of copper with bipyridine (bpy) ligands.

Inventors: James Mayer, Shoshanna Barnett, Karen Goldberg, Bobby PortisC
U.S. Patent 8,585,888
Contact: University of Washington Center for Commercialization

Para-xylene remains a key intermediate in the chemical industry. Current production methods focus on the catalytic reforming and cracking of non-renewal feedstocks, such as crude oil. This invention provides a method of making para-xylene or toluene by: reacting a C5 or C6 linear monoene with a hydrogen acceptor in the presence of a hydrogen transfer catalyst to produce a C5 or C6 diene; reacting the C5-C6 diene with ethylene to produce a cyclohexene having 1 or 2 methyl groups substituted thereon; and then dehydrogenating the cyclohexene. Thus para-xylene can be produced from ethylene as the sole (potentially bio-renewable) starting material.

Inventors: Maurice Brookhart, Michael Findlater, Damien Guironnet, Thomas Lyons
U.S. Patent 9,174,893 B2
Contact: UNC Office of Technology Development


This invention provides methods and compositions useful for synthesizing alkylaromatics from n-alkanes. Alkyl aromatics are currently synthesized commercially on an enormous scale, typically by the alkylation of arenes with olefins. These feedstocks are generally much more expensive than n-alkanes, and the price of n-alkanes will likely decline further relative to these other hydrocarbon feeds.

Inventors: Alan Goldman, Ritu Ahuja, William Schinski
U.S. Patent 9,302,954 B2
Contact: Rutgers Office of Technology Commercialization


New catalysts for the deoxygenation of glycerol to 1,3-propanediol have been invented. Glycerol is a co-product of the manufacture of biodiesel and these catalysts could make biodiesel for economic by allowing manufacture of value-added chemicals from low-value glycerol.

Inventors: Karen Goldberg, D. Michael Heinekey, Nandita Weliange, Takiya Ahmed, Eric Camp, Gene Wong, David Lao
U.S. Patent 9,260,367 B2
Contact: University of Washington Center for Commercialization


A homogeneous catalytic method for the production of methanol from formic acid has been invented. The process for methanol production could be valuable in the following applications, all of which feature hydrogen-free routes to methanol via formic acid: production of methanol from carbon dioxide (electrochemical or photovoltaic generation of formic acid, followed by transformation to methanol); conversion of biomass to methanol via formic acid (catalytic conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to formic acid, followed by transformation to methanol).

Inventors: Karen Goldberg, D. Michael Heinekey, James Mayer, Alexander Miller, Timothy Brewster
U.S. Patent 9.770,710 B2
Contact: University of Washington Center for Commercialization

Butanol represents an alternative to gasoline as a transportation fuel with many desirable properties. In addition, 1-butanol can be used as an entry level chemical in the synthetic commodity chemical industry. Methods and catalysts have been developed for the preparation of butanol with high selectivity by condensation from ethanol via the Guerbet reaction. 

Inventors: William D. Jones, Sumit Chakraborty
U.S. Pat. Appl. Pub. (2017) US201662193294 A1, 2016-15211393, Filed July 15, 2016.
Contact: University of Rochester URVentures Office

Industrial Affiliates Program

Industrial input was critical to guiding our research and transforming CENTC scientific discoveries into practical technology. The CENTC Industrial Affiliates Program was established to form strong relationships with companies throughout the chemical industry and has been an important strategy for translating our research into innovation. Interactions with the Industrial Affiliates proved to be broadly valuable, with our Affiliates suggesting new targets, participating in collaborative research projects, reviewing CENTC technology for licensing, hiring CENTC trainees, and enthusiastically supporting diversity, education and outreach efforts.