NEWS | Nov. 13, 2012

Dr. Robert E. Morris Receives the NRL Sigma Xi Applied Science Award

By Donna McKinney

Dr. Robert E. Morris, Head of the Chemical Sensing and Fuel Technology Section in the Chemistry Division at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is the 2012 recipient of the NRL-Edison Chapter Sigma Xi Applied Science Award. Dr. Morris is cited for his work in coupling novel chemometric algorithms with state-of-the-art analytic methods to provide advanced diagnostic and prognostics of Navy mobility fuels.

Dr. Morris's innovative scientific achievements in fuel analytics have led to the development of advanced diagnostics for Navy mobility fuels that improves accuracy, reliability, and speed of analysis over the current antiquated fuel quality assurance tools. The system developed by Dr. Morris simultaneously determines multiple properties and reduces manpower and consumables, making the analysis greener, safer and less expensive.

Having more than 35 years of research experience in Navy fuels, Dr. Morris is an internationally recognized authority in fuel chemistry. Research by Dr. Morris has helped define the mechanisms and kinetics of chemical changes that occur in petroleum and alternate fuels during use, contributed to the development of improved methods for detecting and quantifying thermal deposits, and aided studies in metal catalysis and oxidation mechanisms of heteratomic species of fuel.

His research at NRL has focused on a wide range of fundamental mechanistic studies, including hydrocarbon autoxidation during thermal stress and storage and the impact of catalytic metals and kinetic studies in both liquid and supercritical fuels. This has included synthesis and structure-reactivity studies of fuel soluble metal chelant mechanisms and the development of immobilized metal sequestering agents for Navy jet fuels. His current research is directed toward developing new tools for characterization and certification of alternative fuels for Navy deployment.

As senior S&T research chemist and member of the technical committee for the Navy Fuels & Lubes Cross Functional Team (CFT), Dr. Morris and his fuel research group provides basic S&T support for all Navy fuel activities within CFT. He holds three patents and has authored more than 90 papers and journal articles in the field of fuel chemistry. Dr. Morris was previously the Chairman of the International Association for Stability, Handling and Use of Liquid Fuels and is currently serving on the technical committee of the Coordinating Research Council for Aviation Fuels.

Before joining the Chemistry Division in 1985, Dr. Morris served as the chemistry division head at Artech Corp., where his research group supported the Navy fuel program through the David Taylor Naval Ship R&D Center.

Dr. Morris earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry with a minor in mathematics from University of Maryland in 1974, and a doctorate in organic chemistry with a minor in physical chemistry from American University in 1983. His graduate research into the kinetics of alcohol cyclization involved the derivation of rate constants of transient intermediate processes through the development of a novel non-linear regression technique.