Song receives George A. Olah Award from the American Chemical Society

Ashley A. Nottingham
April 24, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Chunshan Song, distinguished professor of fuel science in the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering and director of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences' Energy Institute at Penn State, received the 2019 George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry from the American Chemical Society. He was presented with the award at ACS National Meeting, held March 31 through April 4 in Orlando, Florida.

This national award is presented to recognize, encourage and stimulate outstanding research achievements in hydrocarbon or petroleum chemistry. Song received the award for "groundbreaking contributions to adsorptive desulfurization of hydrocarbon fuels, adsorptive carbon dioxide separation, and catalytic carbon dioxide conversion to fuels and chemicals."

"Song is an exceptional researcher, innovator, teacher, mentor and leader in hydrocarbon and petroleum chemistry," said Anne M. Gaffney, a Distinguished Laboratory Fellow at the Idaho National Laboratory. "Specifically, Song has addressed several difficult and complex problems in hydrocarbon and petroleum chemistry. These include outstanding contributions to adsorptive and catalytic desulfurization of hydrocarbon fuels, adsorptive carbon dioxide separation, catalytic carbon dioxide conversion to fuels and chemicals, catalysis in fuel processing for fuel cells, thermal stability of jet fuels and novel catalytic routes for petrochemicals and advanced-engineering plastics."

He serves as the founding director of the University Coalition for Fossil Energy Research, a six-year, $20 million project funded in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory. He is also the founding co-director for the international Joint Center for Energy Research (JCER), a partnership between Penn State and Dalian University of Technology, China, formed in 2011.

Song, also a professor of chemical engineering and associate director of Penn State's Institutes of Energy and the Environment, is a world leader in clean fuels and catalysis.

He specializes in catalytic conversion and use of energy resources, such as coal, petroleum, natural gas, biomass and carbon dioxide as a carbon source. His current research interests include catalysis in fuel processing for ultra-clean fuels and fuel cells; adsorptive carbon dioxide capture and separation, catalytic carbon dioxide conversion and utilization; reforming of hydrocarbon and alcohol fuels for syngas and hydrogen production; shape-selective catalysis for synthesis of organic chemicals; catalysis and reaction chemistry for energy conversion; and synthesis and applications of nano-porous catalytic and adsorbent materials.

For making clean liquid fuels, Song and his research team have developed sulfur-selective adsorbents for removing sulfur from liquid fuels at ambient temperature and pressure, which enabled liquid fuel use in fuel cells and changed the way of thinking in the field. Many prototype fuel processing systems have been fabricated by their industrial partner and applied for liquid fuel-based polymer electrolyte and solid oxide fuel cells. Song and his team have developed novel solid molecular basket sorbents (MBS) with high capacity for selective carbon dioxide capture and separation from gas mixtures such as flue gas from coal-fired power plants. The MBS have been successfully scaled up for carbon dioxide separation from laboratory scale to a pilot plant for demonstration in collaboration with their industrial partner with support from the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Song and his Penn State team, along with collaborators at JCER, have developed a series of novel catalysts for selective carbon dioxide conversion to chemicals and fuels. They not only have developed new bimetallic catalysts with high selectivity for carbon dioxide conversion to lower olefins, liquid hydrocarbons and methanol, but also have delineated the elemental reaction pathways on the surfaces of the new bimetallic catalysts.

Song has written or co-written 360 refereed journal papers, and 30 book chapters, edited 11 books, and 11 special issues of research journals, delivered 60 plenary or keynote lectures at national and international conferences, and given more than 290 invited lectures worldwide. He also holds 8 patents.

Song is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and has received many awards, including Penn State's Faculty Scholar Medal. For additional information, visit

The George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry was established in 1948 as the American Chemical Society Award in Petroleum Chemistry. It was renamed in 1997 after the Nobel laureate George A. Olah. Since 1997, the award under the current title has been supported through a fund initially created by donations from the Morris S. Smith Foundation and the Dow Chemical Company.

Last Updated April 25, 2019