• Purdue University The University of New Mexico northwestern2 University of Notre Dame The University of Texas at Austin

About Us

CISTAR’s Vision

To create a transformative engineered system to convert light hydrocarbons from shale resources to chemicals and transportation fuels in smaller, modular, local, and highly networked processing plants.



The last 10 years have witnessed an unprecedented revolution in the domestic supply of shale hydrocarbon reserves with the potential to lower the cost of our nation’s electricity, power, chemicals, and fuels for the next 100 years. If new technologies can be developed, energy experts project the U.S. will transition from a net importer to net exporter of energy resources by 2030. In addition, substitution of natural gas for coal for electrical power generation has, and will continue, to be a major contributor to the reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas until economic, renewable energy future can be developed. CISTAR researchers and educators will help accelerate the transition by:

  • Producing new, broadly disseminated and impactful science for energy and fuels technology from shale gas hydrocarbons;
  • Generating intellectual property to support commercialization of new technologies;
  • Demonstrating a combined experimental-computational approach to materials discovery that can be applied beyond hydrocarbon research;
  • Providing leading-edge analysis of important environmental issues associated with shale gas upgrading;
  • Developing a diversified, well-trained workforce of innovative students with technical and professional skills; and
  • Informing the public about safe and environmentally responsible ways to use U.S. hydrocarbon resources.


New scientific and engineering discoveries will produce novel catalysts and separation systems with transformative new performance properties.

The CISTAR team will develop innovative process designs for economic production of chemicals and transportation fuels from shale gas hydrocarbons. Researchers also will explore novel approaches for converting methane to chemical intermediates, which can then be used as a feedstock for conversion to liquid fuels.

New materials and fundamental understanding will be transferred from initial, proof of concept lab-scale experiments to full-size pilot scale operations with economic evaluations using systems-level lifecycle and environmental impact analysis to guide research and scale these innovative processes to field demonstrations with industrial partners.


CISTAR's Workforce Development goal is to create a technically excellent and inclusive community of hydrocarbon systems researchers, learners, and teachers through competency-based education, best-practice mentoring, and growth in key professional skills.

Summer Research Experiences

CISTAR summer research experiences provides students and teachers in the STEM field the opportunity to engage in hands-on research projects with faculty mentors in Chemical Engineering. CISTAR's 2019 REU program dates are May 20 - July 26. Learn more.

University Education

CISTAR aims to create a research-based, scalable, and sustainable portfolio of best-practice initiatives to attract and develop high-potential, diverse students to CISTAR and prepare them to be innovative leaders in a global energy economy.

Pre-College Education

CISTAR is committed to broadening participation in engineering and will actively promote the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM through high-quality pre-college engineering experiences for middle and high school students and teachers. CISTAR's 2019 Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program dates are May 28 - July 3. Learn more.


The University Education and Pre-College Education activities will be continuously improved through evaluation by Western Michigan University's CRICPE: Center for Research on Instructional Change in Post-Secondary Education evaluators.

Diversity & Inclusion

To be successful, a global community of engineers needs to encourage diversity and value cultural differences.

CISTAR is dedicated to creating an inclusive center where people from all backgrounds are ready to participate and lead in a global energy economy. CISTAR works: 1. To broaden the participation of groups underrepresented in the petrochemical and fuels industry. 2. To create a warm workplace environment that supports, values, and rewards all its members; and, 3. To prepare culturally intelligent and globally dexterous citizens.

Diversity Staff

Denise Driscoll

Diversity & Inclusion Director
Denise Driscoll

Elsa Castillo

Diversity Co-Director
Elsa Castillo

Industry & Innovation

CISTAR's innovation ecosystem consist of continuous interaction among faculty, student researchers, companies, and non-industrial stakeholders such as government agencies, regulators, NGOs, and consumers to accelerate the commercialization of new Engineering Research Center technologies and workforce development. The ecosystem will also interact with government regulators and NGOs in addressing non-trivial barriers to safety and environmental safeguards.

For more information on the CISTAR industrial membership program, please visit the Industrial Membership Page or contact Innovations and Industry Director, Peter Keeling at

Industrial Members

  • Industrial Members

Innovation Partners

  • Cercas Logo Indiana Economic Development Corp Logo Purdue Research Foundation SMLC Logo STC.UNM Logo Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences Logo Argonne National Laboratory Logo Oak Ridge National Laboratory Logo Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Logo Sandia National Laboratories Logo Technische Universitat Berlin Logo UCL Logo Unicat Logo


    207 S. Martin Jischke Drive, Room 203
    West Lafayette, IN 47907
  • :
  • : +1 765-494-1883
  • CISTAR is dedicated to creating an environment that welcomes, respects, and supports people from all backgrounds.