Research Interests

Inorganic chemistry and catalysis

New synthetic pathways to functional materials

Renewable fuels production and processes

Biomass conversion catalysis

Areas of Expertise

Dan received a Ph.D. degree in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008. His doctoral research combined synthetic molecular and materials chemistry with detailed characterization and performance testing of novel heterogeneous catalysts. He then worked on a variety of catalyst development projects at the Dow Chemical Company in the Renewable Feedstocks & Process Catalysis Group before joining the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in 2010. Dan's research at NREL integrates the synthesis and characterization of functional molecules and materials to enable advanced renewable fuels production and related energy technologies. Areas of expertise include:

  • Inorganic molecular and materials synthesis and characterization

  • Molecular precursor approaches to nano- and meso-scale materials

  • Compositional and morphological control of materials

  • Surface chemistry

  • Catalysis science

    • Heterogeneous catalyst design and synthesis

    • Zeolite synthesis and modification

  • Electrocatalysis and photocatalysis

  • In-situ and operando characterization techniques


Ph.D., Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, 2008

B.S., Chemistry, Lafayette College, 2003

Professional Experience

Staff Scientist, National Bioenergy Center, NREL, 2011–present

Post-Doctoral Researcher - NREL, Chemistry and Nanoscience Center, 20102011

Senior Chemist, The Dow Chemical Company, 20082009


  1. Catalysts and methods for converting carbonaceous materials into fuels, U.S. Patent No. 9,714,387 (2017)

  2. Catalysts and methods for converting carbonaceous materials into fuels, U.S. Patent No. 9,796,931 (2017)

  3. Catalysts and methods for converting carbonaceous materials into fuels, U.S. Patent No. 9,803,142 (2017)

  4. Metal phosphide catalysts and methods for making the same and uses thereof, U.S. Patent No. 9,636,664 (2017)

  5. Magnesium-based methods, systems, and devices, U.S. Patent No. 9,843,080 (2017)

Featured Publications

  1. "Exploring Low-Temperature Dehydrogenation at Ionic Cu Sites in Beta Zeolite To Enable Alkane Recycle in Dimethyl Ether Homologation," ACS Catalysis (2017)

Illustration showing a Cu/BEA model of interconnected, wire-frame pentagons and hexagons made up of blue, green, and red rods. In the center of these hexagons and pentagons is an upside-down Y shape and H2 +with a sideways Y shape with two lines at the base. A gold arrow swoops down from the upside-down Y to the right and up to the sideways Y. In the lower mesh of hexagons and pentagons is a molecular figure made up of spheres (7 large blue, 7 small red, 1 large green, and 1 large golds) connected by silver bars. The gold arrow intersects with the gold sphere of the molecular figure.

  1. "Synthesis of α-MoC1-x Nanoparticles with a Surface-Modified SBA-15 Hard Template: Determination of Structure-Function Relationships in Acetic Acid Deoxygenation," Angewandte Chemie, International Edition (2016)

Illustration showing a brown circle on the left labeled Mo-amine with a white outer ring labeled Hydrophobic and a series of molecular structure images for trimethylsilyl groups at the bottom of the circle. This left image is a close-up inset of a series of six cylinders, brown on the inside and white on the outside, arranged around one central cylinder, and depicts a pore of a mesoporous SBA-15 silica that has been surface-modified with trimethylsilyl groups to retain a hydrophobic molybdenum-amine gel. It is labeled Surface-modified SBA-15. A black arrow leads to the right side of the graphic illustrated by a series of six white cylinders arranged around one central white cylinder, each with varying numbers of black dots inside, and labeled Interior NP-MoC1-x. A yellow-fading-to-green arrow goes from a molecular image of acetic acid in the upper right to molecular structures of acetone and acetaldehyde in the lower right and is labeled Acetic Acid HDO. This right side depicts that after heat treatment nanoparticles of MoC1-x are generated within the pores of the SBA-15 and the resulting catalyst performs acetic acid HDO, converting acetic acid into acetone and acetaldehyde.

  1. "Experimental and Computational Investigation of Acetic Acid Deoxygenation over Oxophilic Molybdenum Carbide: Surface Chemistry and Active Site Identity," ACS Catalysis (2016)

Model of Cu-modified beta zeolite with graph showing increase in hydrocarbon pFigure includes two panes. The left pane shows an oxygen covered molybdenum carbide model catalyst surface with acetic acid adsorbed in a monodentate configuration. A few of the coadsorbed oxygen atoms exist on the surface as hydroxyls. This is represented by a series of large light blue spheres with smaller red and light grey spheres interspersed within the large spheres. An arrow behind the model surface points right and lists acetic acid plus hydrogen as the reactants and states that the experiment used to study the reaction on Mo2C is temperature programmed reaction (TPRxn) at 200 to 500C. The right pane is a plot of experimental TPRxn data, collected using a mass spectrometer with the y-axis being Normalized intensity (a.u.) and the x-axis being Temperature in degrees Celsius ranging from 200 to 500, showing that C-O bond cleavage (a blue bell curve) is favored at temperatures below ca. 400C, resulting in the production of primarily acetaldehyde. The plot shows that C-C bond cleavage (a red curve that starts low and quickly rises to the right) is favored at temperatures above ca. 400C, indicated by a reduction in acetaldehyde formation and an increase in carbon monoxide formation. Ethylene (a relatively low and flat green line) is shown to be a minor product over the entire temperature range. The left two thirds of the chart is a light blue background (C-O cleavage favored) and the right third is light red background (C-C cleavage favored).

  1. "A Facile Molecular Precursor Route to Metal Phosphide Nanoparticles and Their Evaluation as Hydrodeoxygenation Catalysts," Chemistry of Materials (2015)

Figure includes three panels. The first pane, labeled single-source precursors, depicts a bis(triphenylphosphine)rhodium(I) carbonyl chloride single-source precursor for producing rhodium phosphide nanoparticles, shown by a vertical line labeled PPh3 at the top, Rh in the middle, and PPh3 at the bottom. A diagonal line goes through the Rh center and is labeled Cl at the upper left, with a lined arrow leading from the left to the center, and the bottom right labeled CO with a black arrow leading from the right to the center. The middle pane shows a transmission electron micrograph of various black and grey squares in a mosaic pattern, and is labeled phase-pure, solid metal phosphide nanoparticles with Rh2P in the upper left. The third panel is labeled bio-oil compounds and shows a photo of grass biomass overlaid with the written reaction acetic acid plus hydrogen produces methane, ethylene, and acetaldehyde.

  1. "Conversion of dimethyl ether to 2,2,3-trimethylbutane over a Cu/BEA catalyst: Role of Cu sites in hydrogen incorporation," ACS Catalysis (2015)

Illustration showing an orange hexagon labeled metallic Cu outside pore

  1. "Structure-Function Relationships for Electrocatalytic Water Oxidation by Molecular [Mn12O12] Clusters," Inorganic Chemistry (2015)

Structure-function relationships: at least 1e oxidation and ligand induced distortion at Mn. Series of Mn12O12(OAc)16–xLx(H2O)4 molecular clusters (L = acetate, benzoate, benzenesulfonate, diphenylphosphonate, dichloroacetate) were electrocatalytically investigated as water oxidation electrocatalysts on a fluorine-doped tin oxide glass electrode. Four of the [Mn12O12] compounds demonstrated water oxidation activity at pH 7.0 at varying overpotentials (640–820 mV at 0.2 mA/cm2) and with high Faradaic efficiency (85–93%). For the most active complex, more than 200 turnovers were observed after 5 minutes.

Additional Publications

  1. "Thermodynamic Stability of Molybdenum Oxycarbides Formed from Orthorhombic Mo2C in Oxygen-Rich Environments," The Journal of Physical Chemistry C (2018)

  2. "Late-Transition-Metal-Modified β‐Mo2C Catalysts for Enhanced Hydrogenation during Guaiacol Deoxygenation," ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering (2017)

  3. "High-Throughput Continuous Flow Synthesis of Nickel Nanoparticles for the Catalytic Hydrodeoxygenation of Guaiacol," ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering (2017)

  4. "An investigation into support cooperativity for the deoxygenation of guaiacol over nanoparticle Ni and Rh2P," Catalysis Science and Technology (2017)

  5. "Evaluation of Silica-Supported Metal and Metal Phosphide Nanoparticle Catalysts for the Hydrodeoxygenation of Guaiacol Under Ex Situ Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis Conditions," Topics in Catalysis (2016)

  6. "Organometallic model complexes elucidate the active gallium species in alkane dehydrogenation catalysts based on ligand effects in Ga K-edge XANES," Catalysis Science and Technology (2016)

  7. "Role of the Support and Reaction Conditions on the Vapor-Phase Deoxygenation of m‐Cresol over Pt/C and Pt/TiO2 Catalysts," ACS Catalysis (2016)

  8. "Mixed alcohol dehydration over Brønsted and Lewis acidic catalysts," Applied Catalysis A (2016)

  9. "Synthesis, Optical, and Photocatalytic Properties of Cobalt Mixed-Metal Spinel Oxides Co(Al1-xGax)2O4," Journal of Materials Chemistry A (2015)

  10. "Recent advances in heterogeneous catalysts for bio-oil upgrading via 'ex situ catalytic fast pyrolysis': Catalyst development through the study of model compounds," Green Chemistry (2014)

  11. "Deactivation and Stability of K-CoMoSx Mixed Alcohol Synthesis Catalysts," Journal of Catalysis (2014)

  12. "Surface Chemistry Exchange of Alloyed Germanium Nanocrystals: A Pathway Toward Conductive Group IV Nanocrystal Films," The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters (2013)

  13. "Non-aqueous Thermolytic Route to Oxynitride Photomaterials using Molecular Precursors Ti(OtBu)4 and N≡Mo(OtBu)3," Journal of Materials Chemistry A (2013)

  14. "Control of PbSe Quantum Dot Surface Chemistry and Photophysics Using an Alkylselenide Ligand," ACS Nano (2012)

  15. "Size and Bandgap Control in the Solution-Phase Synthesis of Near-Infrared-Emitting Germanium Nanocrystals," ACS Nano (2010)

View all NREL Publications for Daniel Ruddy.