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The Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering

Faculty & Staff

William J. Thomson

William J. Thomson

William J. Thomson, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor

The Gene and Linda Voiland
School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering
1505 Stadium Way, Room 105
P.O. Box 646515
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-6515

Research Projects

Catalytic Fuel Reforming for Fuel Cell Applications

Catalysts are being developed to convert a wide variety of potential fuels into hydrogen, for use in low temperature, Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells. Some of the fuels which have been utilized include ammonia, methanol, propane, as well as gasoline and diesel model hydrocarbons. Current research emphasis is on the stability of reforming catalysts and the development of catalysts and process conditions to improve sulfur tolerance of these catalysts. The research involves 5 graduate students and 2 undergraduates and funding has been provided by the US Army as well as the National Science Foundation. In addition to investigations of both steam and dry reforming of hydrocarbons, some of the work has also concentrated on CO removal via the water gas shift reaction and preferential oxidation of CO.

Solid Acid Catalyst Development

This research program is aimed at the development of new solid acid catalysts as replacements for liquid-phase homogeneous catalysts such as sulfuric and hydrofluoric acid catalyzed gasoline alkylation. Bulk and supported catalysts are synthesized and characterized for acidity by Temperature Programmed Desorption (TPD) methods and high temperature, in-situ FTIR techniques. One aspect of this program is utilizing supercritical conditions to carry out gasoline alkylation at temperatures in the temperature range of 50 – 150 C. In another project, the effect of the reactor mixing state on the selectivity to olefins during methanol-to-olefins (MTO) catalysis is being investigated.


  • PhD, Chemical Engineering – University of Idaho – 1969
  • M.S., Chemical Engineering – Stanford University – 1962
  • BChE, Chemical Engineering – Pratt Institute – 1960

Professional Experience


  • Professor of Chemical Engineering – Washington State University – 1981–Retirement
  • Director of the O.H. Reaugh Laboratory – 1998–Retirement
  • Chair of Department – Washington State University – 1981–1993
  • Westinghouse Distinguished Professor of Materials Science – Washington State University – 1995–96
  • Professor of Chemical Engineering – University of Idaho – 1969–1980


  • Avco RAD, 1961-62 (heat shield design)
  • National Security Agency, 1965-66 (data analysis/interpretation)
  • Unocal Research, 1971-72 (oil shale R&D, SNG catalysis)
  • Stanford Research Institute, 1980 (homogeneous catalysis)
  • Battelle Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 1994-95 (heterogeneous catalysis)


  • Exxon Chemical
  • InnovaTek
  • MesoSystems
  • Solutec
  • Battelle PNNL
  • Unocal
  • Shell Development
  • General Electric
  • Union Carbide
  • Mathey-Johnson
  • National Bureau of Standards

Selected Publications

  1. Darujati, A.R.S., LaMont, D.C. and W.J. Thomson, “Oxidation stability of Mo2C catalysts under fuel reforming conditions”, in press, Applied Catalysis A: General, (2003)
  2. LaMont, D.C., Gilligan A.J.,, Darujati, A.R.S., Chellappa, A.S., and W.J. Thomson, “The effect of Mo2C synthesis and pretreatment on catalytic stability in oxidative reforming environments” in press, Applied Catalysis A: General, (2003)
  3. Platon, A. and W.J. Thomson, “Quantitative Lewis/Bronsted Ratios using DRIFTS”, submitted to Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., (2003)
  4. Platon, C.E. and W.J. Thomson, “A Comparison of LSCF-6428 and BYS for the Oxidative Conversion of Methane and Ethane”, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 41, 6637-6641, (2002)
  5. Chellappa, A., Fischer, C. and W.J. Thomson, “The Kinetics of Ammonia Decomposition at High Ammonia Concentrations”, Applied Catalysis A: General, 227:1-2,: 231-240 (2002)
  6. Chellappa, A., Miller, R.C. and W.J. Thomson, “Supercritical Alkylation and Butene Dimerization over Sulfated Zirconia and Iron-Manganese Promoted Sulfated Zirconia”, Applied Catalysis A: General., 209, p.359-374 (2001)
  7. Xu, S. and W.J. Thomson, “Oxygen Permeation Rates through Ion-conducting Perovskite Membranes”, Chem. Engr. Sci. 54, p. 3839-3850 (1999)
  8. Wang, Y. and W.J. Thomson. “Characterization of the Spinel Phase in a Diphasic Mullite Gel Using Dynamic X-Ray Diffraction”, J. Matls. Sci., 34, p.3577 (1999)
  9. Xu, S. and W.J. Thomson, “Stability of La0.6Sr0.4Co0.2Fe).8O3-d Perovskite Membranes in Reducing and Nonreducing Environments”, I&EC Res., 37, p. 1290 (1998)
  10. Gore, R.B., and W.J. Thomson, “Pulsed Gas-Phase Alkylation of Isobutane/2-Butene over Sulfated Zirconia”, Appl. Cat. A, 168, p. 23-32 (1998)
  11. Xu, S. and W.J. Thomson, “Ion-Conducting Perovskite Membranes for the Oxidative Coupling of Methane”, A.I.ChE.J, 43, p. 2731 (1997)
  12. Wang, Y. and W.J. Thomson, “Kinetic Studies of Tricalcium Silicate Formation from Sol-Gel Precursors”, J. Matls. Sci., 31, p.1319 (1996)
  13. Wang, Y. and W.J. Thomson, “The Effect of Sample Preparation on the Thermal Decomposition of CaCO3”,Thermochimica Acta, 225, p. 383 (1995)
  14. Sobolik, J.L. and W.J. Thomson, “Binary Kinetics in the Y-Ba-Cu System: Pt.1 – Mixed Powders”, AIChE J, 41, p. 1779 (1995)
  15. Wang, H.. and W.J. Thomson, “Binary Kinetics in the Y-Ba-Cu System: Pt.2 – Nanosized Particles”, AIChE J, 41, p. 1790 (1995)
  16. Wang, Y. and W.J. Thomson, “The Effects of Steam and Carbon Dioxide on the Kinetics of Calcite Decomposition”, Chem. Engrg Sci., 50, p. 1373 (1995)