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Jesse Hensley, Ph.D.

Photo of Jesse Hensley

Jesse Hensley manages heterogeneous catalysis research in the Thermochemical Process R&D division of the National Bioenergy Center.

Jesse currently serves as section supervisor as well as principal investigator for pyrolysis oil upgrading (deoxygenation) and gas-to-liquids R&D. His group includes senior engineers and scientists, post doctoral researchers, graduate students, technicians, and undergraduate interns.

Jesse's group operates 3 research laboratories at NREL. The group collaborates with other groups at NREL that focus on fundamental research (computational catalysis and fundamental science), applied catalysis, and scaled demonstration, and also collaborates with several industrial and academic partners to advance the state of the art in themochemical biofuel production.

Research Interests

  • Sustainable energy/fuels research and development
  • Custom process design and retrofits
  • Kinetics and catalysis
  • Materials for improved efficiency
  • Transport modeling
  • Composite and nanostructured materials
  • Energy storage
  • Electrochemistry
  • Zeolite materials
  • Complex membrane separations


  • Ph.D., Chemical Engineering
    Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO, 2007
  • B.S., Chemical Engineering; concentration in Environmental Studies
    University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, 2003
  • University of Western Australia, Study abroad program, 2001

Professional Experience

Jesse's professional experience includes the following:

  • Development of kinetic models for gas-to-alcohol synthesis over heterogeneous catalysts
  • Process control and HMI
  • Statistical and uncertainty analysis
  • Proposal and manuscript writing
  • Collaboration with senior researchers across national labs, industry, and academia
  • Invention and patenting
  • Design of computer tools to streamline data collection and analysis from complex experimental setups
  • Design of pilot-scale equipment from bench-scale data
  • Drafting of P&IDs, HAZOP reviews of pilot and commercial processes, and generation of professional operating manuals and safety procedures
  • Programming, wiring, and troubleshooting of process control systems using Opto22
  • Basic process modeling in Aspen Plus
  • Design and validation of bench-scale reactor systems and associated analysis tools
  • Instrumental analysis techniques such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), mass spectrometry (MS), gas chromatography (GC), thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA), impedance spectroscopy, inductively coupled plasma spectrometry (ICP), small angle X-Ray scattering (SAXS), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), and Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) pore size analysis.
  • Management training: conflict management, interviewing, leadership through influence, legal issues in managing employees

Professional Affiliations

  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)
  • American Chemical Society (ACS)

Patents and Publications


  • Alsum, P.J.; Wilcox, E.M.; Hensley, J.E.; Kharas, K., 2009 WO 2010036846 (A2). "Methods for Improving Syngas-to-Alcohol Catalyst Activity and Selectivity."
  • Hensley, J.E., US Patent # 8,026,290. "Methods and Apparatus for Continuous Removal of Carbon Dioxide from a Mixture of Reacting Gases."



  • Hensley, J.E.; Ruddy, D.; Schaidle, J.; Ferrell, J.; Thibodeaux, J. (March 2012). "Stability and Lifetime of K-CoMoSx Mixed Alcohol Catalysts." AIChE Rocky Mountain Division Annual Meeting, Boulder, CO.
  • Hensley, J.E.; Costelow, K.; Jablonski, W.; Thibodeaux, J.; Yung, M.; Menart, M. (October 2011). "Thermal processing techniques to improve metal sulfide mixed alcohol catalyst performance." AIChE Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN.
  • Hensley, J.E.; Costelow, K.; Jablonski, W.; Thibodeaux, J.; Yung, M. (August 2011). "Synthesis techniques for improved performance from K/Mo/Co sulfide mixed alcohol catalysts." ACS International Meeting, Denver, CO.
  • Hensley, J.E. (November 2010)."Effective Limits of CO2 and Methane Recycle to Mixed Alcohol Reactors Operated with Metal Sulfide Catalysts." AIChE Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City, UT.
  • Hensley, J.E.; Way, J.D. (September 2006)."Relationship Between Proton Conductivity and Water Permeability in Perfluorinated Ionomer Membranes." ACS International Meeting Fuel Division.

Contact Information

Jesse Hensley
Engineer IV
Thermochemical Process R&D
National Bioenergy Center
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
15013 Denver West Parkway, MS 3317
Golden, CO 80401
Phone: 303-384-7914

Please contact Jesse with research questions, ideas for collaborations, and questions about the group. Please do NOT contact Jesse directly for jobs—see instead NREL's Find a Job page, which is up to date.