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Aaron D. Wilson, Ph.D.

Chemical Separations Group Lead and Research Chemist

Research Areas:
Net Zero Waste in Manufacturing; Chemical Separations


Dr. Aaron D. Wilson is a research chemist with over 20 years of experience in industry, academics, and government laboratories. As a Ph.D. graduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder he worked in collaboration with researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on the thermodynamics of homogeneous electrocatalysts. He completed postdoctoral appointments at California Institute of Technology and the National Institutes of Health. As of summer 2022, Wilson's work is documented in 32 peer-reviewed journal articles. He has been awarded six patents and has seven active patent applications. His work ranges from fundamental solution theory to the design of pilot water treatment systems. He has pioneered the use of solvents and phase change materials for water treatment and other separations. This work has resulted in multiple recognitions including two R&D 100 awards and a demonstration at the White House in 2016. 

Digital Profiles:

Ph.D., Inorganic Chemistry, University of Colorado Boulder

B.A., Chemistry, University of Southern Maine


Deshmukha, A.; Foo Z.H.; Stetson, C.; Lee, H.; Orme, C.J.; Wilson, A.D.; Lienhard, J.H. Thermodynamics of Solvent-Driven Water Extraction from Hypersaline Brines using Dimethyl Ether Chemical Engineering Journal 2022, 134391. DOI:10.1016/j.cej.2021.134391

Wilson, A.D.; Stetson, C.; Lee, H. Mass Action Model of Solution Activity via Speciation by Solvation and Ion Pairing Equilibria Communications Chemistry 2021, 4, 163 (1-8) DOI:10.1038/s42004-021-00599-8

Feeley, B.P.; Overton, M.A.; Galloway, M.M.; Lecrivain, T.J.; Wilson, A.D. Idaho Database of Solution Thermodynamics Journal of Molecular Liquids 2021, 338, 116574 DOI:10.1016/j.molliq.2021.116574

Wilson, A.D.; Stetson, C. Modeling Solution Vapor Equilibria with Solvation and Solute Assembly Journal of Molecular Liquids 2021, 336, 116272 DOI:10.1016/j.molliq.2021.116272

McNally, J.S.; Foo, Z.H.; Deshmukh, A.; Orme, C.J.; Lienhard, C.J.; Wilson, A.D. Solute Displacement in the Aqueous Phase of Water-NaCl-Organic Ternary Mixtures Relevant to Solvent-Driven Water Treatment RCS Advances 2020, 10 (49), 29516-29527. DOI:10.1039/D0RA06361D

Adhikari, B.; Orme, C. J.; Jones, M. G.; Wendt, D. S.; Mines, G. L.; Wilson, A. D.* Diffusion membrane generation of 1-cyclohexylpiperidinium bicarbonate Journal of Membrane Science 2019, DOI:10.1016/j.memsci.2019.04.047

Kang, H.; Suich, D.; Davies, J.; Wilson, A.; Urban, J.; Kostecki, R. Molecular Insight into the Lower Critical Solution Temperature Transition of Aqueous Alkyl Phosphonium Benzene Sulfonates Comm. Chem. 2019 2 (1) 51-61. DOI:10.1038/s42004-019-0151-2

Hsu, C.; Ma, C., Bui, N.; Song, Z.; Wilson, A.; Kostecki, R.; Diederichsen, K.; McCloskey, B.; Urban, J. Enhanced forward osmosis desalination with a hybrid ionic liquid/hydrogel thermo-responsive draw agent system ACS Omega, 2019, 4 (2),4296-4303. DOI:10.1021/acsomega.8b02827

Xia, L.; Arena, J.T.; Ren, J.; Reimund, K.K., Holland, A.; Wilson, A.D.; McCutcheon, J.R. A trimethylamine–carbon dioxide draw solution for osmotic engines AIChE Journal, 2018, 64 (9), 3369-3375. DOI: 10.1002/aic.16175

Diaz, L. A.; Gao, N.; Adhikari, B.; Lister, T. E.; Dufek E. J.; Wilson, A. D. Electrochemical Production of Syngas from CO2 Captured in Switchable Polarity Solvents Green Chemistry, 2018, 20 (3), 620-626 DOI: 10.1039/C7GC03069J (Cover of Green Chemistry Volume 20, Number 3, 7 February 2018, Pages 557–766, ISSN 1463-9262)

McNally, J. S.; Wang, X.; Hoffmann, C.; Wilson, A. D. Self-assembly of molecular ions via like-charge ion interactions and through-space defined organic domains Chem. Comm. 2017, 53 (79), 10934-10937 DOI:10.1039/C7CC06401B

Adhikari, B.; Jones, M.G.; Orme, C. J.; Wendt, D. S.; Wilson, A. D. Compatibility study of nanofiltration and reverse osmosis membranes with 1-cyclohexylpiperidenium bicarbonate solutions Journal of Membrane Science 2017, 527, 228-235 DOI:10.1016/j.memsci.2016.12.017

Wilson, A.D. Chapter 6. Design of the next-generation FO draw solution, in: Rational Design of Next-Generation Nanomaterials and Nanodevices for Water Applications. IWA Publishing (International Water Association), August 2016, 103–130, ISBN-10: 1780406851, ISBN-13: 978-1780406855

Reimund, K. K.; Coscia, B. J.; Arena, J. T.; Wilson, A. D.; McCutcheon, J. R. Characterization and Membrane Stability Study for the Switchable Polarity Solvent N,N-Dimethylcyclohexylamine as a Draw Solute in Forward Osmosis Journal of Membrane Science 2016, 501, 93-99, DOI:10.1016/j.memsci.2015.10.039

Wendt, D. S.; Orme, C. J.; Mines, G. L.; Wilson, A. D. Energy requirements of the switchable polarity solvent forward osmosis (SPS-FO) water purification process. Desalination 2015, 374, 81-91, DOI:10.1016/j.desal.2015.07.012

Orme, C. J.; Wilson, A. D. 1-Cyclohexylpiperidine as a thermolytic draw solute for osmotically driven membrane processes. Desalination 2015. 371, 126-133, DOI:10.1016/j.desal.2015.05.024

McNally, J. S.; Wilson A. D. Density Functional Theory Analysis of Steric Impacts on Switchable Polarity Solvent (SPS) Journal of Chemical Physics B 2015, 119, 6766-6775. DOI:10.1021/acs.jpcb.5b03167

Reimund, K. K.; McCutcheon, J. R.; Wilson, A. D. Thermodynamic analysis of energy density in pressure retarded osmosis:  The impact of solution volumes and costs Journal of Membrane Science 2015, 487, 240-248, DOI:10.1016/j.memsci.2015.03.076

Wilson, A. D.; Orme C.J. Concentration Dependent Speciation and Mass Transport Properties of Switchable Polarity Solvents RCS Advances 2015, 5, 7740-7751 DOI:10.1039/C4RA08558B


E.J. Dufek, M.L. Stone, D.K. Jamison, F.F. Stewart, K.L. Gering, L.M. Petkovic, et al., Hybrid phosphazene anodes for energy storage applications, Journal of Power Sources. 267 (2014) 347–355. oi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2014.05.105.


A.D. Wilson, F.F. Stewart, Structure–function study of tertiary amines as switchable polarity solvents, RSC Adv. 4 (2014) 11039–11049. doi:10.1039/C3RA47724J. 


A.D. Wilson, F.F. Stewart, Deriving osmotic pressures of draw solutes used in osmotically driven membrane processes, Journal of Membrane Science. 431 (2013) 205–211. doi:10.1016/j.memsci.2012.12.042. 


M.L. Stone, C. Rae, F.F. Stewart, A.D. Wilson, Switchable polarity solvents as draw solutes for forward osmosis, Desalination. 312 (2013) 124–129. doi:10.1016/j.desal.2012.07.034. 


M.L. Stone, A.D. Wilson, M.K. Harrup, F.F. Stewart, An initial study of hexavalent phosphazene salts as draw solutes in forward osmosis, Desalination. 312 (2013) 130–136. doi:10.1016/j.desal.2012.09.030. 


US 11,261,111 Methods and Systems for Treating a Liquid 2022 Aaron D. Wilson, Daniel S. Wendt, Christopher J. Orme, Birendra Adhikari, and Daniel M. Ginosar

US 10,975,477 Methods and systems for the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide using switchable polarity materials 2021, Tedd E. Lister, Eric J. Dufek, Aaron D. Wilson, and Luis A. Diaz Aldana. 

US 10,363,336 Methods and Systems for Treating Liquids Using Switchable Solvents. 2019, Aaron Wilson, Frederick Stewart, Mark Stone.​

US 10,195,543 B2 Methods and systems for treating a switchable polarity material, and related methods of liquid treatment 2019, Aaron Wilson, Christopher Orme, Daniel Wendt, Gregory Mines, and Michael Jones

US 9,399,194 Draw Solutions and Related Methods for Treating a Liquid. 2016, Aaron Wilson, Christopher Orme

US 8,871,385 B2 Electrodes including a polyphosphazene cyclomatrix, methods of forming the electrodes, and related electrochemical cells. 2014, Kevin Gering, Frederick Stewart, Aaron Wilson, Mark Stone


DOE American-Made Challenge, Solar Desalination Prize 1 of 8 Semifinalists via The Hard Ion (HIT) Team John Webley (Trevi Systems), William T Guiney (Artic Solar), Clark Easter (Global Water Innovations), and Aaron Wilson (INL) 

2020 R&D 100 Award, for “Carbon Capture & Utilization through Reduction Electrolysis (Carbon CURE)" Luis Diaz Aldana, Ningshengjie Gao, Tedd Lister, Birendra Adhikari, Aaron D. Wilson, Eric Dufek

INL Inventor of the Year Award (2019)​

INL Early Career Exceptional Achievement Award, 2013


R&D 100 Award, Switchable Polarity Solvent Forward Osmosis (SPS FO), Aaron D. Wilson, Frederick F. Stewart, Mark L. Stone, 2013


Outstanding Technology Development Award, Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Far West Region, Switchable Polarity Solvent Forward Osmosis, Aaron D. Wilson, Frederick F. Stewart, Mark L. Stone, 2013

Idaho Innovation Early Stage Innovation of the Year Award, Switchable Polarity Solvent Forward Osmosis (SPS FO), Aaron D. Wilson, Frederick F. Stewart, Mark L. Stone, 2013

Research Interests:
Solution Theory
Physical Organic Chemistry
Drying Methodology
Water Treatment
Mineral Production
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