Richard Axelbaum

Richard Axelbaum

The Stifel & Quinette Jens Professor of Environmental Engineering Science

Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering

  • Phone
  • Office
    Brauer Hall, Room 3006
  • Lab location
    Brauer 3040


PhD, University of California–Davis, 1988
MS, University of California–Davis, 1983
BS, Washington University in St. Louis, 1977


Investigates ways to eliminate the formation of pollutants, such as soot


Energy, with emphasis on combustion and materials synthesis


Dr. Axelbaum studies combustion phenomena, ranging from oxy-coal combustion to flame synthesis of nanotubes. His studies of fossil fuel combustion focus on understanding the formation of pollutants, such as soot, and then using this understanding to develop novel approaches to eliminating them. Recently, his efforts have been focused on addressing global concerns over carbon dioxide emissions by developing approaches to carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Axelbaum’s synthesis research has yielded methods of producing stable metal nanoparticles and single-walled carbon nanotubes in flames. His present research in materials synthesis is directed towards producing next-generation battery materials for electric vehicles.

Professor Axelbaum also performs research on hydrogen fire safety and combustion in microgravity, and is principal investigator of a combustion experiment that is onboard the International Space Station.


Professor Axelbaum is currently the Director of the Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization at WashU. He also heads the Laboratory for Advanced Combustion and Energy Research and served as associate director of the Center for Materials Innovation from 2005 to 2008. From 1998 to 2007, he was chairman and chief scientific advisor for AP Materials, Inc., a startup company he founded that specialized in flame synthesis of nanopowders. Cabot Corporation acquired the company in August of 2007.

Professor Axelbaum has over 105 peer-reviewed publications and holds five patents. Prior to joining WashU in 1990 he was a research associate and lecturer at Princeton University. He has worked for General Electric and Barry-Wehmiller, and in 2006 was a visiting professor at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.