Tomonori Saito

Tomonori Saito

Research Scientist

Dr. Tomonori Saito is a synthetic polymer chemist, who has extensive experience in the synthesis of well-defined polymers via living/controlled polymerization as well as post-modification of various polymers. His expertise has been applied to various projects at ORNL including polymer upcycling, vitrimers, CO2 separation membranes, flow battery, fuel cell, ion-conducting polymers for batteries and battery binders, ionic liquid polymers, polymer nanocomposites, additive manufacturing, polymer nanoparticles, elastomers, self-healing materials, thermal insulation materials, uranium extraction from seawater, carbon fiber composites, polyolefin-based carbon fibers, lignin based-carbon fibers, and lignin-based renewable thermoplastics. He has published 96 peer-reviewed articles (h-index 37), 5 patents issued (two was licensed.), won R&D 100 in 2012, 2016, 2019.

His strength in research relies on the use of his skills in synthetic polymer chemistry to impact material sciences, energy, and chemical & environmental engineering applications. His polymer synthesis experience includes synthesis of block, graft, random copolymers with functional groups using living anionic polymerization, ATRP, RAFT, ROMP, conventional free radical polymerization, step-growth polymerization, and post-functionalization chemistry. His engineering expertise includes design, process and characterization of polymeric materials using various techniques for applications such as CO2 separation membranes, fuel cell, flow battery, self-healing materials, elastomers, carbon fibers, composites, 3D printing, thermal insulation materials, renewable plastics, metal adsorbents, ion-conducting polymers for energy storage, polymer upcycling etc.

  • Polymer Upcycling
  • Gas Separation Membrane
  • Energy Storage (Polymer Binders, Flow Battery, Fuel Cell)
  • Polymer Nanocomposites
  • Block Copolymers and Soft Nanoparticles
  • Thermoplastic Elastomers and Superelastomers
  • Self-healing and Dynamic Polymers
  • Additive Manufacturing (Binder Jet 3D Printing)
  • Polymer Electrolytes
  • Building Materials (Thermal Insulation)

2012 – present   R&D Staff, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Chemical Sciences Division

Lead PI on polymeric gas separation membrane. Technical lead for novel polymer synthesis for CO2 separation membranes, uranium adsorbents, ion-conducting polymers for batteries, and ionic liquid polymers using living anionic polymerization, ATRP, RAFT, ROMP, conventional free radical polymerization, olefin polymerization, step-growth polymerization, and post-functionalization chemistry. Also technical lead on binder jet 3D printing as well as UV 3D printing. 

2010 – 2012       Postdoctoral Associate, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Materials Science and Technology Division

Designed and developed polyolefin-based carbon fiber, lignin based-carbon fiber, and lignin-based novel thermoplastic

2008 – 2010       Postdoctoral Associate, The Pennsylvania State University, Materials Science and Engineering, Environmental Engineering

Synthesis of novel proton and anion exchange membranes for hydrogen and methanol fuel cells. Served as a material expert in microbial fuel cells in all the components including polymer binder, polymer coating, and membranes.

2019 2019 R&D 100, “High Strength Binder System for Additive Manufacturing”, Tomonori Saito, Amy Elliott, Dustin Gilmer, Michelle Lehmann, Lu Han, Rick Lucas, Dan Brunermer

2017          ORNL Research Team Award, Carter Abney, Vyacheslav Bryantsev, Christopher J. Janke, Sheng Dai, Richard Mayes, Tomonori Saito, Costas Tsouris

2016          2016 R&D 100, "U Grabber", Sheng Dai, Suree Brown, Robin Rogers, Christopher J. Janke, Richard Mayes, Tomonori Saito, Ronnie Hanes

2012          2012 R&D 100, “HiCap Adsorbents”, Christopher J. Janke, Yatsandra Oyola, Sheng Dai, Chris Bauer, Richard Mayes, Tomonori Saito, Xiao-Guang Sun, Costas Tsouris, Jim Brang, Jeff Haggard

2006.5       ACS Polymer Division Travel Award – POLY Biennial Meeting

2005.1- 2005.6 MII (Macromolecules and Interfaces Institute at Virginia Tech) Frontiers in Graduate Research Fellowships

2003.3.5    Best Research Award (Kurita award) in 2003 at 37th Japan Society on Water Environment Conference in Kumamoto, Japan, Mar. 3-7, 2003

2005 -  Member of American Chemical Society (POLY, PMSE)

Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan                           B.S.           2001       Applied Chemistry

Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan                           M.S.          2003       Chemical Engineering

Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA                               Ph.D.        2008       Chemistry (Organic Polymer)    

Amit K. Naskar, Tomonori Saito, Joseph M. Pickel, Frederick S. Baker, Cliff Eberle, Robert E. Norris, Jr., Jonathan R. Mielenz, “Lignin-Derived Thermoplastic Co-Polymers and Methods of Preparation” U.S. Patent No. 8,748,537 issued: June 10, 2014 licensed on March 2015

Amit K. Naskar, Marcus A. Hunt, Tomonori Saito, “Methods for preparation of carbon fibers from polyolefin fiber precursors, and carbon fiber made thereby” US Patent No. 9096955 B2, August 4, 2015.

Tao Hong, Sabornie Chatterjee, Brian K. Long, De-en Jiang, Shannon M. Mahurin, Jimmy W. Mays, Alexei Sokolov, Tomonori Saito, “Cross-linked Polymeric Membranes for Carbon Dioxide Separation” US Patent No. 9873094 B2, January 23, 2018

Sheng Dai, Suree Brown, Tomonori Saito, “Surface-Functionalized Polyolefin Fibers and Their Use in Methods For Extracting Metal Ions from Liquid Solutions” US Patent No. 10391472 B2,August 27, 2019

Tolga Aytug, Robert C. Duckworth, Keith J Leonard, Parans Mariappan Paranthaman, Georgios Polyzos, Tomonori Saito, “Method for producing radiation-resistant polymer composite materials” Provisional Patent filed,  Application number 62/105,796