Caroline Burgess CliffordCaroline Burgess Clifford
Research Associate

224 Academic Projects (AP)
Phone:(814) 865-8673
Fax:(814) 863-7432


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Research Areas:

Carbon Materials
Clean Fuels & Catalysis
Petroleum & Natural Gas Engineering
Sustainable Energy


Dr. Caroline Clifford is a senior research associate at the EMS Energy Institute at Penn State University. Dr. Caroline Clifford’s expertise is in coal and biomass conversion to liquid fuels and value-added materials. She has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&M University (1984). She did her graduate work on coal liquefaction, from 1987-1994, obtaining a master's and PhD in Fuel Science from Penn State University, working on medium rank coals. She did postdoctoral research in Australia at Monash University in Melbourne in 1994-1995, working with low rank coals. She continued her research on conversion of low rank coals and lignin at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin from 1995-1998. She returned to Penn State in 1999 to continue work on producing jet fuel from coal and thermal stability of jet fuel, branched out into making carbons from coal, and continued in research on conversion of lignin. Dr. Clifford coal was the project manager for the refinery integration of coal-based jet fuel and an investigator on the jet fuel program in the production of jet fuel from coal. She is also an investigator on industrial projects to make coal/petroleum based carbons through delayed coking. Dr. Clifford also served as project manager on an USDA project on conversion of lignin (from cellulosic sources) into liquid fuels and value-added products. Dr. Caroline Clifford also has research projects in using high temperature solvent extraction of coal, reactions of lignin in high temperature water and various gases, and examining anthracite coals as precursors for graphitic materials. Dr. Caroline Clifford also serves as a senior lecturer and as part of the graduate faculty within the Energy and Mineral Engineering Department at Penn State, teaching courses in the chemistry of conversion of biomass, energy conversion, and undergraduate lab for energy engineers. Dr. Clifford is also serving as an energy expert for teacher workshops in the Earth & Energy Science Partnership (ESSP). She and others are currently developing a workshop in energy for middle and high school teachers.

Education Background:

Research Interests:

Extensive experience in coal and biomass conversion processes, including experience in many different methods of characterization for complex liquid and gas mixtures and carbon materials. Specific areas of research include:

• Catalytic coal liquefaction on medium and low rank coals
• Conversion of coal into premium carbon products
• Coal conversion into liquids and solids using petroleum based solvents
• Biomass (lignin) conversion into value-added liquids and carbons, fuels
• Co-processing of coal/biomass into liquid fuels

Memberships & Committees:


• Member of the American Chemical Society (ACS) - Division of Fuel Chemistry – 1989-present
• Secretary, Executive Committee of Division of Fuel Chemistry, ACS, October 1998 - 2001.
• Alternate Councilor, Executive Committee of Division of Fuel Chemistry, ACS, Jan. 2004- Dec. 2008.
• Chair, Executive Committee of Division of Fuel Chemistry, ACS, Jan. 2009-2011
• Director-at-Large, Executive Committee, Division of Energy and Fuels, ACS, 2012-2014


• Served on several departmental and college committees related to promotion of fixed-term faculty
• Participation in various outreach activities at Penn State, Chemistry (2003) and EMS (2004, 2005).
• Member of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Diversity Committee, 2003 – 2009.
• Faculty Advisor for Phi Sigma Rho, an engineering sorority, 2002-2009.
• Student Affiliate ACS Co-Advisor, UTPB 1997-1998.

Honors & Awards:

• Glenn Award for Best Paper at 2010 Fall Meeting, Fuel Chemistry Division ACS, awarded August 2011
• Honorable Mention for poster at Pittsburgh Coal Conference, September, 2006
• Faculty Mentoring Award, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Spring 2005.
• Team Player Award, The Energy Institute, The Pennsylvania State University, 2000.
• Fellowship from MMRRI, Penn State University, August 1990-May 1992.
• Volunteer for Big Brother/Big Sister Organization, State College, PA. October, 1989-1993.
• Member of Advisory Board Committee for Big Brother/Big Sister, October 1992.


EGEE 101 (GN) ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT (3) Energy utilization and technological development, energy resources, conversion and consequences on the local and global environment, and future energy alternatives.

EGEE 411 Energy Science and Engineering Lab (3) A comprehensive introduction to classic and modern laboratory skills and experimentation of relevance to energy science and engineering practice.

EGEE 451 Energy Conversion Processes (3) Emphasizes processes for conversion of fossil fuels, nuclear and biomass to other fuel forms as transportation fuels and electricity.

EGEE 497A Chemistry and Processing of Biomass for Alternative Fuel Production (3) The course introduces the chemistry and processing of various biomass sources in order to produce liquid fuels and materials.