William H. Green

Director and Professor MIT Energy Initiative; Department of Chemical Engineering

William H. Green, the Hoyt C. Hottel Professor at MIT, is a world leader in chemical kinetics, reaction engineering, prediction of chemical reactions and properties, and in development of related software. He has led many combined experimental/modeling research projects related to fuels, combustion, pyrolysis, and oxidative stability, and he invented an instrument to directly measure rate coefficients for multi-channel reactions. He developed computer methods to predict the behavior of complicated reacting mixtures, many of which are included in the open source Reaction Mechanism Generator software package, a type of AI expert system for reactive chemistry. The associated popular website includes estimators for many chemical properties and several databases. Green co-invented several algorithms and numerical methods helpful for handling complicated chemical kinetics. His group has also developed machine-learning methods and software (ASKCOS and Chemprop) for accurately predicting the products of organic reactions and for predicting many chemical and reaction properties. Chemprop, whose recent versions were developed primarily by Green’s research group, is currently the most popular open-source chemistry software on GitHub. It is heavily used by the pharmaceutical industry, to predict the properties of proposed new drug molecules. Green also invents and analyzes technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in the transportation/fuel sector. Two of his greenhouse-gas reduction inventions are now being commercialized, one by Thiozen, a company he co-founded. Recently he has been developing and analyzing technology options for decarbonizing the freight sector, with a special interest in long-haul trucking.

Green earned his BA from Swarthmore College, and his PhD in physical chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley under the supervision of C. Bradley Moore. After postdocs at Cambridge University with Nicholas Handy and at the University of Pennsylvania with Marsha Lester, he worked for Exxon Research & Engineering for six years before joining the Chemical Engineering faculty at MIT in 1997. Green has co-authored more than 350 journal articles, which have been cited more than 23,000 times. He is a fellow of the AAAS and of the Combustion Institute, and has received the American Chemical Society’s Glenn Award in Energy & Fuel Chemistry and the AIChE’s Wilhelm Award in Reaction Engineering. He convened and organized the International Conference on Chemical Kinetics in 2011, and now serves as treasurer of that conference series. More than 20 of his former graduate or postdoctoral students are now tenured or tenure-track faculty. He previously served as the editor of the International Journal of Chemical Kinetics, as the faculty chair of MIT’s Mobility of the Future project, and as the executive officer of the MIT Department of Chemical Engineering. He was appointed director of the MIT Energy Initiative in Spring 2024.

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