Among his many accomplishments, Jeff was co-inventor of M41S, an entirely new class of mesoporous molecular sieves. M41S materials represent a breakthrough in ultra large pore molecular sieve technology. Utilizing strategies gleaned from surfactant chemistry, Jeff demonstrated how to manipulate the synthesis of these materials to tailor their pore size from 20 to 100 Å. He also demonstrated that the interactions between surfactant templates and reaction conditions in these systems could be manipulated to produce either zeolitic or mesoporous materials, thus illustrating the possibility of either molecular or supramolecular templating. Discovery of these materials is recognized as a major innovation throughout the scientific community. These silicates are applicable to a wide range of applications in catalysis, separations and as host/guest materials. This work was awarded the 1994 Donald W. Breck Award by the International Zeolite Association.
Another major achievement includes Jeff’s seminal work on preparing ex-situ selectivated catalysts which laid the groundwork for the ExxonMobil PxMaxsm process (selective conversion of toluene to p‑xylene, the precursor to terephathalic acid and polyesters), which was recently recognized with the ACS Heroes of Chemistry Award. His research in the “molecular engineering” of zeolites and the interplay between reaction pathways, kinetics, and mass transport in microporous materials led to several commercial processes for the selective production of para-xylene. Jeff’s fundamental studies enabled him to tailor the diffusion properties of the catalyst by using novel nano-coating techniques. He carried out detailed kinetic and mechanistic studies to design catalysts for selective production of para-xylene in ExxonMobil processes such as PxMaxsm and XyMaxsm (awarded the 2003 Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award by the Research and Development Council of New Jersey), and his findings also played a key role in the commercial manufacture of these catalysts. These discoveries have been deployed worldwide in more than 20 commercial units for para-xylene production, with others planned, and have been recognized not just by their rather significant economic impact, but also for their environmental benefits by reducing the energy required to produce para-xylene and their societal benefit in enabling the lower cost production of the key component used in the production of polyethyleneterephthelate (PET), one of the world’s most widely used polymers.
In addition, Jeff has authored or coauthored 47 scientific publications, 58 external presentations, and 59 patents, which demonstrate his creativity in the broad research area of catalysis. One supporter commented, “He innovates, implements, and leads. Jeff’s impact on ExxonMobil through catalysis has been tremendous, far exceeding hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Jeff has also played a key role in bringing to ExxonMobil new research tools to further increase capabilities to efficiently carry out research and development of novel catalytic technologies. He was a key member of the team that established a broad ExxonMobil-Symyx alliance in High-Throughput R&D (HT R&D). With Jeff leading the effort, these new HT R&D tools, along with advanced modeling efforts, are successfully being implemented at ExxonMobil and have yielded innovations that have been commercialized in the refining and lubricant areas.
Jeff’s current role at ExxonMobil is manager of Corporate Strategic Research of ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, with overarching responsibility for upstream, downstream, and chemicals long range research for the entire Corporation.
President of The North American Catalysis Society