Dr. Sievers’ research interests are in heterogeneous catalysis, reactor design, applied spectroscopy, and characterization and synthesis of solid materials. Combining these interests he seeks to develop processes for the production of fuels and chemicals. His research program combines fundamental and applied research.

In fundamental studies, a suite of analytical and spectroscopic techniques (e.g. IR, NMR) is used to gain knowledge on structure-reactivity relationships of heterogeneous catalysts. Moreover, surface reactions are studied on a molecular level to identify reaction pathways over different catalysts. Information obtained from these studies provides the foundation for designing innovative catalysts.

Applied studies focus specific catalytic processes. For these projects, continuously operated flow reactor systems are designed. Different catalysts are tested for reactivity, selectivity and stability and the influence of the operating conditions is investigated. Catalyst deactivation is studied in detail to develop suitable regeneration methods or to avoid deactivation entirely by improved catalyst design. Specific projects include hydrodeoxygenation of pyrolysis oils, selective hydration of polyols, conversion of sugars into lactic acid and ethylene glycol, and selective oxidation of methane.

An important goal of Dr. Sievers’ research is to enable technology for utilization of alternative resources in order to reduce the current dependence of oil. Among these biomass is a particularly promising candidate because it is renewable and can be produced CO2 neutral.

Dr. Sievers has contributed to 80 peer reviewed publications on heterogeneous catalysis in petroleum refining (isobutane/2-butene alkylation, fluid catalytic cracking, hydrotreating), alkane activation, supported ionic liquid as catalysts for fine chemical synthesis, and biomass processing.  He is Director and Past President of the Southeastern Catalysis Society, former Program Chair and Director of the ACS Division of Catalysis Technology & Engineering, former Director of the AIChE Division of Catalysis and Reaction Engineering, and Editor of Applied Catalysis A: General.