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Theo T Tsotsis

Robert E. Vivian Chair in Energy Resources and Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science


  • 1978, Doctoral Degree, Chemical Engineering
  • 1976, Master's Degree, Chemical Engineering
  • 1974, Bachelor's Degree, Chemical Engineering


Professor Tsotsis received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1978. He then joined the University of Southern California (USC), where he currently holds the title of the Robert E. Vivian Professor in Energy Resources in the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. He also served as the Department’s inaugural Chair in 2005. Professor Tsotsis’ research interests are in the areas of transport, adsorption and reaction in complex porous media, reaction engineering, reactor design, and membrane separations. He is the author of over 280 technical papers, several book chapters, eight U. S. and one European patent, and one book. He has also edited two Technical Meeting Proceedings volumes. He has worked on a broad array of problems, ranging from the abstract and theoretical (symmetry breaking instabilities, reaction rate oscillations) to the practical and applied (petroleum upgrading, and membrane reactors and bioreactors). Professor Tsotsis was the co-founder and a member of the executive board of USC’s NSF/IGERT Center in Environmental Engineering. He is a Fellow of the AIChE.

Research Summary

* Reaction engineering , membrane Separation Processes

Specific Research Projects

* Sorption and Transport Phenomena in Synthetic and Natural Porous Media

We are interested in the study of transport and sorption phenomena in both synthetic (membranes, adsorbents, and catalysts) and natural (shales, sandstones, various porous carbons, etc.) porous media. Inorganic membranes (e.g., carbon molecular sieve, SiC, and layered-double-hydroxide) are of particular interest because of their application in reactive separation applications (e.g., membrane reactors), but also because they serve as model systems for the study of such phenomena in other practical porous systems like adsorbents and catalysts. The studies with the natural materials are complemented with studies with synthetic porous silicas with controlled and well-defined pore structures that serve as model systems for their more complex natural counterparts. The studies are both of experimental and theoretical character, the latter studies employing both continuum and molecular simulation techniques.

* Reactor Engineering

We are interested in power generation involving renewable fuels like biomass, landfill gas and biogas, and we study the combustion characteristics of these fuels, and the environmental implications of their use in power generation. We also study the use of novel (e.g., membrane and adsorptive) reactors for the efficient production of liquid fuels (e.g., biodiesel) and chemicals (methanol and other higher alcohols) from biogas and biomass-derived syngas. The use of reactive separations, involving high temperature membranes, in power generation applications is also currently under investigation.

* Environmental Reaction Engineering

We are interested in the remediation of landfill sites, with our work involving the detailed modeling of landfill gas and leachate generation and transport in these sites. We also study novel means for getting rid of the various heteroatom-containing VOC found in landfill gas and biogas. In addition, we pursue the development and use of novel adsorbents and membranes for the elimination of toxic pollutants associated with the use of these renewable fuels for power generation.


  • 2017 WPI 2017 Ed Ma Lectureship
  • 2011 OCEC President's Award
  • 2009 AIChE Fellow of the AIChE
  • 2002 NAMS Technical Co-Chair of the Meeting of the North American Membrane Society (NAMS)
  • 1998 ISCRE Technical Co-Chair of the 15th International Symposium on Chemical Reaction Engineering (ISCRE 15)
  • 1992 UOP Invitational Lectureship
  • 1986 Caltech Chevron Visiting Professor
  • 1983 USC USC Research Scholar
  • 1983 Welch Foundation Fellow
  • 1981 USC Chevron Young Faculty Award
  • 1980 Oak Ridge Associated Universities Fellowship
  • 1974 National Student Award of the Greek Chemical Engineers
  • Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
  • HED 210
  • Hedco Pertroleum and Chemical Engineering Building
  • 925 Bloom Walk, Los Angeles, CA 90089
  • USC Mail Code: 1211
Contact Information
  • (213) 740-2069