Rich Higgins


Massachusetts Institute of Technology S.B. 05/1985 Materials Science & Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology S.M. 05/1986 Materials Science & Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sc.D. 02/1990 Materials Science & Engineering

Personal Statement

I have over thirty years of technical and business expertise in advanced water technology development and commercialization. My expertise covers areas including industrial water treatment, membrane separation processes, electrochemical processes, energy technologies, and chemical sensor technologies. As part of my prior experience, I have planned and executed programs to develop, scale up manufacturing of, and commercially prove new ceramic membrane products that satisfied market needs. I also identified and developed new value creation opportunities and provided close technical support to business development team efforts in key markets. I have held other relevant responsibilities, including manufacturing development in troubleshooting tasks to support scale-up and cost reduction, as well as managing field service engineers on pilots to support commercial proposals, and execution of commissioning, start-up and troubleshooting. Finally, I have served as PI or PD on about fifty federally funded applied R&D programs, primarily through SBIR.

Positions and Honors
Positions and Employment

2020-current Chief Technology Officer, Onvector, LLC, Somerville, MA
2018-2020 Independent Technical Consultant
2008-2018 Director of Technology, Veolia Water Technologies (CeraMem Ceramic Membrane Systems), Waltham, MA
1996-2008 Senior Vice President and Treasurer, CeraMem Corporation, Waltham, MA
1991-1996 Senior Research Scientist, CeraMem Corporation, Waltham, MA
1989-1991 Manager of Membrane Research, CeraMem Corporation, Waltham, MA

Other Experience and Professional Memberships

2008-2012 Member, American Water Works Association
2004 US Dept. of Energy, Hydrogen Separations R&D, Review Panel
2003 US Dept. of Energy, Biofuels/Biotechnology R&D, Reviewer for Academic Programs
1986-2018 Member, American Ceramic Society
1994-2002 Member, Materials Research Society

Contributions to Science

My Master’s thesis research evaluated surface chemistry and colloidal properties of aluminum magnesite spinel. R.J. Higgins, H.K. Bowen, and E.A. Giess, “Preparation and Sintering Behavior of FineGrained MgAl2O4-SiO2 Composites,” pp. 691-98 in Advances in Ceramics, vol. 21: Ceramic Powder Science, American Ceramic Soc., Columbus, OH, 1987.

My Doctoral thesis identified, for the first time, specific surface chemical and pyrolytic chemical mechanisms for carbon contamination retention occurring during manufacturing of multi-layer metallized ceramic microelectronics substrates. R.J. Higgins, W.E. Rhine, M.J., Cima, H.K. Bowen, and W.E. Farneth, “Ceramic Surface Reactions and Carbon Retention during Non-Oxidative Binder Removal: Al2O3/ Poly(methyl methacrylate) at 20°-700°C,” J. Am. Ceram. Soc., 77 [9], 2243-53 (1994).

During my post-graduate career, my full focus has been on applied research, product and process development as opposed to basic science. However, I have collaborated with academic researchers occasionally in separations and materials science, e.g.: a. Y.S. Lin, W. Ji, Y. Wang, and R.J. Higgins, “Cuprous-Chloride-Modified Nanoporous Alumina Membranes for Ethylene-Ethane Separation,” Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 38, 2292- 2298 (1999). b. S.J. Lombardo, D. Bianchi, B. Bishop, A. Giannakopoulos, R. Higgins, R. Goldsmith, R. Pober, S. Suresh, “Forming of Ceramics During Firing Without the Application of External Pressure,” J. Am. Ceram. Soc., 82 [6], 1401-08 (1999).

Additional Information:

Research Support and/or Scholastic Performance
Ongoing Research Support US Air Force SBIR D. Cho (PI) 05/01/20-06/01/21 Demonstration of plasma vortex reactor technology for destruction of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in groundwater at current and past US Air Force facilities The goal of this project is to demonstrate the commercial potential for plasma vortex reactor destruction of PFAS in groundwater at current and past US Air Force facilities.

Israel-United States Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation D. Cho (PI) 12/01/19-11/30/21 Spark Filter/Pulse Electric Fields for Advanced Disinfection of Irrigation Water The goal of this project is to develop plasma reactor technology for disinfection of water used for drip irrigation of crops Completed Research Support EPA SBIR D. Cho (PI) 04/01/20-09/30/20 Advanced Plasma Vortex Equipment for the Destruction of PFAS Contaminants in Water The goal of this project was to demonstrate the effectiveness and commercial potential of combining plasma reactor technology with chemical oxidants for destruction of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in contaminated groundwater at current or past industrial sites.