Dr. Tara J. Fortin

Dr. Tara J. Fortin


Dr. Fortin received her B.A. in Chemistry (and also a B.A. in Spanish) from Wellesley College and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Colorado. Both her undergraduate and graduate research interests focused on atmospheric chemistry. As an undergraduate, she studied the reaction kinetics of one of the second-generation CFC replacement refrigerants, 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane (R-134a). In graduate school, her work focused on understanding the role of sulfate aerosol in both cloud formation and tropospheric chemistry. Her post-graduate work as a research associate at NOAA ESRL focused primarily on air pollution chemistry and included field measurements of atmospheric concentrations of Hg, NO, NO2, NOy, and O3. It was also during this time that Dr. Fortin's interests expanded to include energy science and policy when she was involved in an investigation of power plant emissions. That interest has persisted since joining the Experimental Properties of Fluids Group where she makes thermophysical property measurements for conventional and renewable fuels. Understanding these properties is crucial to the successful deployment of renewable fuels as part of the nation's energy portfolio. When not in the lab, Dr. Fortin is an avid baseball fan and gourmet cook.

Google Scholar Citation Page

Research Areas

Thermophysical Property Measurements on Fuels:

In recent years, there has been increasing pressure to enhance and extend traditional petroleum sources of fuels. This has lead to consideration of alternative feed stocks such as natural gas, and also to renewable feed stocks such as those produced from biological sources. The production and utilization of these new fuels require an infrastructure of thermophysical property knowledge, for use in design and operation. Fundamental to this knowledge base are fluid density, viscosity, speed of sound and heat capacity. Dr. Fortin supervises a laboratory that provides these properties on real fuels and working fluids. While the instruments in her laboratory all operate at atmospheric pressure, they have a wide temperature range of operation. This is ideal for measuring the properties needed to produce predictive thermophysical property models which are critical to the successful introduction of new fuels into the U.S. economy.


Fortin, T.J., Bruno, T.J., Assessment of the thermophysical properties of thermally stressed RP-1 and RP-2, Energy Fuels, 27,2506-2514, 2013.

Fortin, T.J., Laesecke, A., Freund, M., Outcalt, S., Advanced calibration, adjustment, and operation of a density and sound speed analyzer, J. Chern. Thermodyn., 57, 276-285,2013.

Outcalt, S.L., Fortin, T.J., Density and speed of sound measurements of four bioderived aviation fuels, J. Chern. Eng. Data, 57, 2869-2877, 2012.

Fortin, T.J., Assessment of variability in the thermophysical properties of rocket propellant RP-1, Energy Fuels, 26, 4383-4394, 2012.

Laesecke, A., Fortin, T.J., Splett, J.D., Density, speed of sound, and viscosity measurements of reference materials for biofuels, Energy Fuels, 26, 1844-1861, 2012.

Outcalt, S.L., Fortin, T.J., Density and speed of sound measurements of two synthetic aviation turbine fuels, J. Chern. Eng. Data, 56, 3201-3207, 2011.

Outcalt, S.L., Laesecke, A., Fortin, T.J., Density and speed of sound measurements of hexadecane, J. Chem. Thermodyn., 42, 700-706, 2010.

Outcalt, S.L., Laesecke, A., Fortin, T.J., Density and speed of sound measurements of 1- and 2-butanol, J. Molec. Liq., 151, 50-59, 2010.

Frost, G.J., McKeen, S.A., Trainer, M., Ryerson, T.B., Neuman, J.A., Roberts, J.M., Swanson, A., Holloway, J.S., Sueper, D.T., Fortin, T.J., Parrish, D.D., Fehsenfeld, F.C., Flocke, F., Peckham, S.E., Grell, G.A., Kowal, D., Cartwright, J., Auerbach, N., Habermann, T., Effects of changing power plant NOx emissions on ozone in the eastern United States: Proof of concept, J. Geophys. Res., 111, doi:10.1029/2005JD006354, 2006.

Osthoff, H.D., Brown, S.S., Ryerson, T.B., Fortin, T.J., Lerner, B.M., Williams, E.J., Pettersson, A., Baynard, T., Dubé, W.P., Ciciora, S.J., Ravishankara, A.R., Measurement of atmospheric NO2 by pulsed cavity ring-down spectroscopy, J. Geophys. Res., 111, doi:10.1029/2005JD006942, 2006.

Shilling, J.E., Fortin, T.J., Tolbert, M.A., Depositional ice nucleation on crystalline organic and inorganic solids, J. Geophys. Res., 111, doi:10.1029/2005JD006664, 2006.

Fortin, T.J., Howard, B.J., Parrish, D.D., Goldan, P.D., Kuster, W.C., Atlas, E.L., Harley, R.A., Temporal changes in U.S. benzene emissions inferred from atmospheric measurements, Environ. Sci. Technol., 39, 1403-1408, 2005.

Fortin, T.J., Drdla, K., Iraci, L.T., Tolbert, M.A., Ice condensation on sulfuric acid tetrahydrate: Implications for polar stratospheric ice clouds, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 3, 987-997 2003.

Avallone, L.M., Toohey, D.W., Fortin, T.J., McKinney, K.A., Fuentes, J.D., In situ measurements of bromine oxide at two high-altitude boundary layer sites: Implications of variability, J. Geophys. Res., 108, doi:10.1029/2002JD002843, 2003.

Fortin, T.J., Shilling, J.E., Tolbert, M.A., Infrared spectroscopic study of the low-temperature phase behavior of ammonium sulfate, J. Geophys. Res., 107, doi:10.1029/2001JD000677, 2002.

Iraci, L.T., Fortin, T.J., Tolbert, M.A., Dissolution of sulfuric acid tetrahydrate at low temperatures and subsequent growth of nitric acid trihydrate, J. Geophys. Res., 103, 8491-8498, 1998.

Created February 14, 2011, Updated September 21, 2016