Prof. Karthish Manthiram

Theodore T Miller (1922) Career Development Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering

Primary DLC

Department of Chemical Engineering

MIT Room: 66-550

Areas of Interest and Expertise

Renewable Energy
Reactor Design
Materials Chemistry
Organometallic Chemistry

Research Summary

The Manthiram Lab is focused on the molecular engineering of electrocatalysts for clean energy technologies and synthesis of fine and commodity chemicals. Key challenges we are addressing include carbon dioxide reduction, methane activation, and pharmaceutical synthesis. The Lab is directing efforts in several key areas:

(1) Converting carbon dioxide to fuels and feedstocks: We aim to re-envision the routes by which chemical feedstocks and fuels are produced today to use sustainable starting materials, such as carbon dioxide and water, to generate desirable fuels and feedstocks, including alcohols and hydrocarbons. By using renewable electricity to catalytically drive these conversions, such synthetic fuels and feedstocks will allow for closing the carbon cycle and mitigating carbon dioxide emissions which would otherwise contribute to global warming. In addition, such routes may represent a strategy for the storage of electrical energy in chemical bonds to overcome the intermittency of clean energy sources like solar and wind.

(2) Methane activation: We are also interested in developing electrochemical routes for the functionalization of existing petroleum and biological feedstocks. Of particular interest is the electrochemically-driven partial oxidation of methane to produce a condensable fuel or chemical feedstock. Attempts to electrochemically activate methane at ambient temperature and pressure have historically suffered from poor conversions and overoxidation, which we aim to overcome by developing selective elecrode architectures.

(3) Pharmaceutical synthesis: Most reducing and oxidizing agents used today for organic synthesis are derived from electrochemical routes and then used in separate non-electrochemical redox reactions of organic compounds to generate a wide range of fine chemicals. We aim to develop direct routes for the reduction and oxidation of organic compounds, including pharmaceuticals such as the N-substituted carbazole derivative shown at right. N-substituted carbazoles are part of an emerging class of small molecules that prevent nerve cell death associated with neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases, for which there are currently no effective clinical treatments to reverse nerve cell death. These compounds have recently been shown to not only confer neuroprotection, but also promote neurogenesis in the hippocampus of mice.

Recent Work

  • Video
    April 15, 2021Conference Video Duration: 87:47


    CJ (Changjie) Guo
    Program Director, MIT Corporate Relations
    Robert Armstrong
    Director, MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI)
    Chevron Professor of Chemical Engineering
    Lene Hviid
    GameChanger, Shell Global Solutions
    Global Manager, Shell Research Alliance
    Zheng Yu
    Business Director, State Grid US Representative Office
    Anne White
    Professor and Head, Nuclear Science and Engineering
    SoE Distinguished Professor of Engineering
    Karthish Manthiram
    Theodore Miller Career Development Chair and Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering
    March 11, 2021Conference Video Duration: 97:30


    Yossi Sheffi
    Elisha Gray II Professor, Engineering Systems
    Director, Center for Transportation and Logistics (MIT CTL)
    Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Professor, Institute of Data Science and Society
    Jason Jay
    Senior Lecturer, Sustainability
    Director, Sustainability Initiative at Sloan School of Management
    C. Adam Schlosser
    Senior Research Scientist, Center for Global Change Science
    Deputy Director, MIT Joint Program on Science and Policy of Global Change
    Leonardo Bonanni
    Founder and CEO, Sourcemap
    Christopher Raymond
    Chief Sustainability Officer, The Boeing Company

    Karthish Manthiram
    Theodore Miller Career Development Chair and Assistant Professor, Chemical EngineeringDesirée Plata
    Winslow Career Development Professor, Civil Engineering
    Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Brent Keller
    Co-Founder & CTO, Via Separations
    Stephen Potter
    Global Director of Strategy, Vale
    Nina Birger
    Vice President of Partnerships, Greentown Labs
    March 9, 2021Conference Video Duration: 13:40


    Karthish Manthiram
    Theodore Miller Career Development Chair and Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering
    October 12, 2017MIT Faculty Feature Duration: 28:45

    Karthish Manthiram