Cristian I Contescu

Distinguished Staff Scientist

Cristian Contescu graduated from Bucharest University (Magna cum Laudae) in 1971, and obtained his doctoral degree from the Bucharest Polytechnic Institute (Romania) in 1979. In his early career years at the Institute of Physical Chemistry in Bucharest (Romania) he directed basic and applied research on oxide catalysts and adsorbents, with a focus on surface reactions on clean metal surfaces and basic principles of catalyst preparation. During 1990-1997 he was a Visiting Scientist and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering of Syracuse University, working with Prof. James Schwarz on characterization of surface reactivity of heterogeneous catalysts and porous carbons. After holding research scientist positions in industry (Hitco Carbon Composites, in Gardena, CA) and a small business company (Materials Methods LLC, in Newport Beach, CA), he joined Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in 2004. Currently, Dr. Contescu holds a Senior Research Staff position in the Materials Science and Technology Division. His current research is focused on surface properties and reactivity of carbon materials ‒ from porous carbons for hydrogen storage, gas purification, and electrochemical energy storage; to nuclear grade high purity graphite used as neutron moderator in high temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactors.

Areas of Research:

  • Carbon materials for nuclear applications (nuclear graphite).
  • Carbon materials for gas storage (hydrogen, methane), separation (carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds) and electrochemical energy storage.
  • Surface chemistry of solid materials (nuclear graphite, porous carbon adsorbents, catalysts).
  • Physical chemistry at interfaces.
  • Catalysts preparation and characterization.
  • Colloid chemistry.
  • Carbon nanostructures.



2015-2016 Graffin Lecturer of American Carbon Society.
Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer (2014).
R&D 100 Award – team member (2013).
American Carbon Society, Advisory Committee Member and symposia organizer (since 2013).
Korean Nuclear Society, Nuclear Engineering and Technology Committee, Member (2012).
American Society for Standards and Methods (ASTM) – Member, Study Coordinator (2009).
Editorial Board Member, CARBON journal (since 2008).
Romanian Academy, Chemical Sciences Division: “G. Spacu” National Award (1991).
American Chemical Society, symposia co-organizer (2000 – 2004).
Panelist: DOE-Basic Energy Sciences; DOE-Nuclear Energy.
Board of reviewers of numerous US and international journals.


• Spallation Neutron Source (SNS)• High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR)• High Temperature Materials Laboratory (HTML)


Contescu, C. I., Gallego, N, C, Howe, J. Y. Meyer III, H. M., Payzant, E. A., Wood, D. L., Yoon, A. Y., Denlinger, M. R., “Forming gas treatment of lithium ion battery anode graphite powders”, US Patent 8,834,829 B2, (Sep 16, 2014).
Taboada-Serrano, P., Tsouris C., Contescu C. I., MacFarlane J, “Magnetic filtration process, magnetic filtering material, and methods for forming magnetic filtering material” US Patent 8,551,617 B2 (Oct. 8, 2013).
Lara-Curzio E., An, K., Kiggans J. O., Dudney N. J., Contescu C. I., Baker F. S., Armstrong B. L., “Lightweight, durable lead-acid batteries”, US Patent 8,445,138 B2 (May 2013).
Lara-Curzio E., An, K., Kiggans J. O., Dudney N. J., Contescu C. I., Baker F. S., Armstrong B. L., “Lightweight, durable lead-acid batteries”, US Patent 8,017,273 B2, (Sep 13, 2011).
Contescu, C. I. and Jaffe, S. M. “Adsorbent Material for Parallel Passage Contactors”, U.S. Patent 7,077,891 B2 (July 18, 2006).
Putyera, K., Contescu, C. I., Kwabena A., Amato, W., "Post Carbonization Treatment of Microporous Carbons for Enhancement of Methane and Natural Gas Storage Properties", U.S. Patent 6,225,257 B1 (May 1, 2001).
Patron, L.I., Plostinaru S. D., Contescu A., Vass, M., Osiceanu C. P., Cristea M. L., Contescu C. I., Crisan D.D., Stanica C. N., “Combined Oxides on Lanthanides Basis Preparation Process”, Romanian Patent RO 0100723B1 (10.29.1991).
Vass, I. Mihail; Diaconescu, V. Antonina Virginia; Contescu, Ion N.M. Cristian: “Process and Device for Nitriding Small Iron and Steel Parts” (“Procedee et Dispositif pour la Nitruration des Petites Pieces en Acier et Fer”), Romanian Patent, RO 0070382 B1 (1985-02-25).

Specialized Equipment

Dual furnace thermogravimetric analyzer (SETARAM) coupled with mass spectrometer (Pfeiffer). High capacity thermogravimetric balance (home built) for studies of graphite oxidation kinetics. Automatic volumetric system (Quantachrome) for gas adsorption ...