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Levi Thompson | Faculty

Levi Thompson

Richard E. Balzhiser Collegiate Professor of Chemical Engineering;
Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Director, Hydrogen Energy Technology Laboratory
The University of Michigan
Director, Michigan-Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation

Department of Chemical Engineering
3020 H.H. Dow Building
3040 Phoenix Lab
Ann Arbor, MI  48109
(734) 936-2015
(734) 763-0459 (Fax)



Short Bio

Professor Thompson earned his B.ChE. from the University of Delaware, and M.S.E. degrees in Chemical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan. He served as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education in the College of Engineering from 2001 to 2005, and is Director of the Hydrogen Energy Technology Laboratory and Director of the Michigan-Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation.  Professor Thompson is recipient of awards including a 2006 Michiganian of the Year Award for his research, entrepreneurship, and recruitment and mentoring of students, NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, Engineering Society of Detroit Gold Award, Union Carbide Innovation Recognition Award and Dow Chemical Good Teaching Award.  He is also co-founder, with his wife, of T/J Technologies, a developer of nanomaterials for advanced batteries; Dr. Thompson served as founding CEO and Board Chair until the company was acquired by A123 Systems in 2006.  He recently founded Inmatech to commercialize low cost, high energy density supercapacitors.  Professor Thompson was Consulting Editor for the AIChE Journal, and served on the National Academy’s Chemical Sciences Roundtable, External Advisory Committee for the Center of Advanced Materials for Purification of Water with Systems, and AIChE Chemical Engineering Technology Operating Council. He presently serves on the DoE Hydrogen Technology Advisory Committee, University of Delaware Chemical Engineering Department Advisory Committee and AIChE Board of Directors, as well as the Board of Trustees for the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.

Research Interests

Research in his group focuses on the design, synthesis and characterization of chemicals and nanostructured materials for catalytic and energy storage applications.  Of particular interest is the development structure-function relationships that enable the design of highly efficient materials.  Current projects to develop nanostructured catalytic materials focus on:

  • hydrogen production (e.g. water gas shift and photoelectrochemical reactions)
  • synfuels production (e.g. Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis, and CO2 hydrogenation)
  • biomass deoxygenation (e.g. hydrodeoxygenation and decarbonylation)
  • NOx abatement (e.g. oxidation and selective catalytic reduction)

Current projects to develop materials with high energy and/or power densities focus on:

  • nanostructured nitrides and carbides for supercapacitors
  • nanostructured oxides for lithium and magnesium ion batteries
  • metal coordination complexes for redox flow batteries


Courses Taught


  • ENG 100 - Introduction to Engineering: Design for Energy Sustainability
  • ChE 342 - Heat and Mass Transfer
  • ChE 344 - Reaction Engineering & Design
  • ChE - 496/696 Introduction to Electrochemical Systems
  • ChE 360 Chemical Engineering Laboratory I
  • ChE 486 - Chemical Process Simulation and Design I


  • ESE 505/ME 571 - Energy Generation and Storage
  • ChE 509 - Statistical Analysis of Engineering Experiments
  • ChE 542 - Transport Phenomena
  • ChE 628 - Industrial Catalysis
  • ChE 697 Experimental Methods for the Synthesis and Characterization of Advanced Catalytic and Electronic Materials
  • ChE 696 Special Topics in Hydrogen and Fuel Cells

Continuing Education Courses

"Reaction Engineering and Applied Catalysis" (with P. E. Savage) University of Michigan Engineering Summer Course, 3-day course, taught every summer.

Honors & Professional Service

Honors and Awards

  • Tau Beta Pi Outstanding Teaching Award, 1989
  • Dow Chemical Good Teaching Award, 1990
  • NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1991
  • Union Carbide Corp. Innovation Recognition Award, 1992, 1993
  • Department of Chemical Engineering Excellence in Research Award, 1993
  • Department of Chemical Engineering Excellence in Service Award, 1994
  • Award for Outstanding Performance and Leadership from ABPAFS, 1995
  • UOP Invitational Lecturer, 2000
  • Henry R. Johnson Award, 2001
  • Dept. of Chemical Engineering Service Excellence Award, 2005, 2001  
  • GEM Outstanding Academic Award, 2004
  • American Chemical Society Distinguished Lecture (NOBCChE), 2005
  • College of Engineering Service Excellence Award, 2006
  • University of Delaware Outstanding Alumnus Award, 2006
  • Michigan Catalysis Society, Guiseppe Parravano Award, 2006
  • Engineering Society of Detroit, Gold Award, 2007
  • Michiganian of the Year – one of 12 for the State of Michigan recognized for research excellence and entrepreneurial contributions, 2007
  • Louis H. Latimer Award, American Association of Blacks in Energy, 2011
  • DAPCEP-DTE Energy Real McCoy Award, 2012
  • McBride Distinguished Lectureship, Case Western Reserve University, 2014


  • American Chemical Society
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers (Board of Directors, 2014-2016)
  • American Vacuum Society
  • Electrochemical Society
  •  Materials Research Society
  • Michigan Catalysis Society (Sec., 1992; Pres.-Elect, 1993; Pres., 1994)
  • National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers
  • Tau Beta Pi
  • The Catalysis Society

Selected Publications

Recent Publications

  • “Effects of Surface Oxygen on Charge Storage in High Surface Area Early Transition-Metal Carbides and Nitrides,” Abdoulaye Djire, Olabode T. Ajenifujah, Alice E.S. Sleightholme, Paul Rasmussen and Levi T. Thompson, J. Power Sources 275, 159 (2015). doi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2014.10.161
  • “Low-Temperature CO2 Hydrogenation to Liquid Products via a Heterogeneous Cascade Catalytic System,” Yuan Chen, Saemin Choi, and Levi T. Thompson, ACS Catal. 5, 1717–1725 (2015). doi:10.1021/CS501656X
  • “Synthesis and Characterization of Hematite Nanotube Arrays for Photocatalysis,” T. Mushove, T.M. Breault and L.T. Thompson, Indust. & Eng. Chem. Res. 54, 4285 (2015). doi:10.1021/IE504585Q
  • “Performance of a Non-aqueous Vanadium Acetylacetonate Prototype Redox Flow Battery: Examination of Separators and Capacity Decay,” Ismailia L. Escalante-Garcia, Jesse S. Wainright, Levi T. Thompson, and Robert F. Savinell, J. Electrochem. Soc. 162(3), A363-A372 (2015).  doi: 10.1149/2.0471503jes
  • “Metal Acetylacetonate Complexes for High Energy Density Non-Aqueous Redox Flow Batteries,” J.A. Suttil, J.F. Kucharyson, P.J. Cabrera, M.S. Sanford and L.T. Thompson, J. Mater. Chem. A 3, 7929-7938 (2015).  doi: 10.1039/C4TA06622G
  • “Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis over Early Transition Metal Carbides and Nitrides: CO Activation and Chain Growth,” Joshua A. Schaidle and Levi T. Thompson, J. Catal. 329, 325-334 (2015). doi:10.1016/j.jcat.2015.05.020
  • “Effects of Passivation on Synthesis, Structure and Composition of Molybdenum Carbide Supported Platinum Water-Gas Shift Catalysts,” Brian M. Wyvratt, Jason R. Gaudet, and Levi T. Thompson, J. Catal. 330, 280-287 (2015). doi:10.1016/j.jcat.2015.07.023
  • “DFT Analysis of NO Oxidation Intermediates on Undoped and Doped LaCoO3 Perovskite,” Penninger, M., Kim, C., Thompson, L., Schneider, W., J. Phys. Chem. C 119(35), 20488 (2015). doi:10.1021/acs.jpcc.5b06351
  • “Pseudocapacitive Charge Storage Via Hydrogen Insertion for Molybdenum Nitrides,” Priyanka Pande, Aniruddha Deb, Alice E.S. Sleightholme, Abdoulaye Djire, Paul G. Rasmussen, James Penner-Hahn and Levi T. Thompson, J. Power Sources 289, 154 (2015). doi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2015.03.171
  • “Complexes Containing Redox Non-Innocent Ligands for Symmetric, Multi-Electron Transfer Non-Aqueous Redox Flow Batteries,” Pablo J. Cabrera, Xingyi Yang, James A. Suttil, Krista L. Hawthorne, Rachel E. M. Brooner, Melanie S. Sanford and Levi T. Thompson, J. Phys. Chem. C 119 (28), 15882 (2015). doi:10.1021/acs.jpcc.5b03582
  • “Evaluation of Tris-Bipyridine Chromium Complexes for Flow Battery Applications: Impact of Bipyridine Ligand Structure on Solubility and Electrochemistry,” Pablo J. Cabrera, Xingyi Yang, James A. Suttil, Rachel E. M. Brooner, Levi T. Thompson, and Melanie S. Sanford, Inorg. Chem. 54(21), 10214 (2015). doi:10.1021/acs.inorgchem.5b01328
  • “Twelve Principles for Green Energy Storage in Grid Applications,” M. Arbabzadeh, J.X. Johnson, G.A. Keoleian, L.T. Thompson, P.G. Rasmussen, Envir. Sci. and Tech. 50, 1046 (2016). doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b03867
  • “Highly Functionalizable Pentacoordinate Iron Hydrogen Production Catalysts with Low Overpotentials,” S.C. Eady, T. Breault, L. Thompson and N. Lehnert, Dalton Transact. 45, 1138 (2016). doi:10.1039/c5dt03744a
  • “Microporous Titania-Silica Nanocomposite Catalyst-Adsorbent for Ultra-Deep Oxidative Desulfurization,” A. Bazyari, A.A. Khodadadi, A.H. Mamaghani, J. Beheshtian, L.T. Thompson, Y. Mortazavi, Appl. Catal. B 180, 65-77 (2016). doi:10.1016/j.apcatb.2015.06.011
  • “A Symmetric Organic - Based Nonaqueous Redox Flow Battery and Its State of Charge Diagnostics by FTIR,” Wentao Duan, Rama S. Vemuri, Jarrod D. Milshtein, Sydney Laramie, Rylan D. Dmello, Jinhua Huang, Lu Zhang, Dehong Hu, M. Vijayakumar, Wei Wang, Jun Liu, Robert M. Darling, Levi Thompson, Kyle Smith, Jeffery S. Moore, Fikile R. Brushett and Xiaoliang Wei, J. Mater. Chem. A, in press (2016). doi:10.1039/C6TA01177B
  • “Ethyl Formate Hydrogenolysis over Mo2C-Based Catalysts: Towards Low Temperature CO and CO2 Hydrogenation to Methanol,” Yuan Chen, Saemin Choi and Levi T. Thompson, Catal. Today 259(2), 285 (2016). doi:10.1016/j.cattod.2015.08.021
  • “Effects of Alumina Phases as Nickel Supports on Deep Reactive Adsorption of (4,6-‎Dimethyl)dibenzothiophene: Comparison between γ, δ and θ-Alumina,” Amin Bazyari, Levi T. Thompson, Reza‎ Tafreshi, Azadeh Zaker, Olabode T. Ajenifujah, and Yadollah Mortazavi, App. Catal. B, 180, 312-323 (2016). doi:10.1016/j.apcatb.2015.06.025
  • “Reactivity of Hydrogen On and In Nanostructured Molybdenum Nitride: Crotonaldehyde Hydrogenation,” Brian M. Wyvratt, Jason R. Gaudet, Daniel B. Pardue, Andrea Marton, Svemir Rudić, Elizabeth A. Mader, Thomas R. Cundari, James M. Mayer and Levi T. Thompson, ACS Catal. 6(9), 5797–5806 (2016). doi:10.1021/acscatal.6b00936
  • “Characterization of Structural and Electronic Transitions During Reduction and Oxidation of Ruthenium(III) Acetylacetonate-Based Flow Battery Electrolytes Using X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopy,” Jonathan F. Kucharyson, Jason R. Gaudet, Brian M. Wyvratt and Levi T. Thompson, ChemElectroChem 3, 1 (2016). doi.:10.1002/celc.201600360
  • “Low Temperature CO2 Hydrogenation to Alcohols and Hydrocarbons Using Mo2C Supported Metal Catalysts,” Yuan Chen and Levi Thompson, J. Catal. 343, 147-156 (2016). doi:10.1016/j.jcat.2016.01.016
  • “Performance and cost characteristics of multi-electron transfer, common ion exchange non-aqueous redox flow batteries,” Sydney M. Laramie, Jarrod D. Milshtein, and Tanya M. Breault, Fikile R. Brushett, Levi T. Thompson, J. Power Sources 327, 681–692 (2016). doi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2016.07.015
  • “Mechanism-Based Development of a Low-Potential, Soluble, and Cyclable Multielectron Anolyte for Nonaqueous Redox Flow Batteries,” Christo S. Sevov, Sydney L. Fisher, Levi T. Thompson, and Melanie S. Sanford, JACS 138 (47), 15378–15384 (2016). doi: 10.1021/jacs.6b07638