Phillip Savage

Biographical Sketch

Phillip Savage is Professor of Chemical Engineering, and he has been on the U-M faculty since 1986.  His degrees are from Penn State (BS) and the University of Delaware (PhD).  Phil is Associate Editor of the AIChE Journal and a Fellow of the AIChE.  He is Chair of the Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Division of ACS and a past-chair of the AIChE Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Division.  He received the Academic Award for the 2009 Michigan Governor’s Award for Green Chemistry and the 2001 National Catalyst Award from the American Chemistry Council in recognition of his outstanding teaching and contributions to chemical education.  He was also selected as a Thurnau Professor by the University of Michigan in 1997, which is its highest recognition for excellence in undergraduate education. 

Research Interests

Sustainable Production of Energy and Chemical Products: Green Chemistry & Green Engineering

Our reliance on petroleum for chemical products and energy is not sustainable. Also, industrial chemical processes could be made both more profitable and more environmentally friendly if they produced less waste. Phillip Savage’s research investigates chemical reaction systems that are important for sustainable chemical synthesis and energy production. The research is aimed at reducing the environmental impact of these vital activities. High-temperature liquid water is often used as the reaction medium, avoiding the use of organic solvents.  Replacing organic solvents now used in commercial chemical processes with high-temperature liquid water would result in “greener” processes.

Completed projects have focused on chemical synthesis and nanoparticle production in high-temperature liquid water.  Savage has examined the synthesis of both specialty and bulk, commodity chemicals (e.g., terephthalic acid from p-xylene).  The work focused on demonstration of feasibility and examination of the relevant reaction kinetics, pathways, and mechanisms. 

His current focus is on energy production from renewable resources, developing novel processes for converting biomass (e.g., algae, lignocellulosic material) into hydrogen, methane, and liquid transportation fuels. These strategies involve chemical reactions, both catalyzed and uncatalyzed, in water near or above its critical point.  He also does fundamental kinetics studies and mechanistic work to build a better understanding of chemistry.

Savage's goals are to resolve the reaction networks, determine the kinetics for the different steps in the network, and probe the reaction mechanism. Accomplishing these goals provides the reaction engineering information needed for process design and optimization and also provides fundamental, molecular-level details about the reaction chemistry. 

Contact Information

University of Michigan- Ann Arbor

H.H. Dow Building

2300 Hayward Street

Ann Arbor, MI 48109

(734) 764-3386

More information is available at


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