Patrick Awarded Doctoral New Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund

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Amanda Patrick, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, recently received the American Chemical Society (ACS) Petroleum Research Fund (PRF) Doctoral New Investigator (DNI) Award for her research project titled “Investigating Ionic Liquid Thermal Stability and Degradation Pathways in the Gas and Liquid Phases via Mass Spectrometric Monitoring: Toward Better Predictive Power”. The award is funded in the amount of $110,000 and the project period is two years.

Ionic liquids are salts that are liquid at relatively low temperatures, like room temperature (by contrast, table salt doesn’t melt until about 800°C or nearly 1,500°F!). These special salts typically contain a cation (positively charged species) that is a bulky, asymmetrical organic species. Ionic liquids find use or potential for use in areas as wide ranging as chemical solvents for manufacturing, pharmaceutical preparations, and spacecraft propellants. In this project, the Patrick Group aims to extend their gas-phase investigations on ionic liquid cation dissociation pathways and compare results from that work to similar thermal degradation studies done in the liquid phase. Thermal degradation in the liquid phase is especially important for recyclability of these species, for instance when they are used as solvents in chemical synthesis. Degradation pathways in the gas phase and liquid phase, which are both relevant to spacecraft propellants, will be compared and contrasted to help determine the role of the anion in thermal stability. Furthermore, comparisons between the gas-phase and bulk observations will lead to improved fundamental understandings and may eventually lead to quick screening methods for thermal stability of new cation structures.

The Petroleum Research Fund was originally established as a Trust by seven major oil companies in 1944 and is now managed by ACS since 2000. ACS is charged with supporting “advanced scientific education and fundamental research in the petroleum field”. ACS-PRF specifically supports fundamental research related to petroleum and fossil fuels and the DNI program is specifically a starter grant for tenure track faculty at PhD-granting institutions within three years of their first appointment.

More information on the ACS PRF can be found at
More information on Dr. Patrick and her research can be found at

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