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Daniel J. Schell

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Daniel Schell is a senior biochemical engineer and supervisor of the Bioprocess Integration R&D section of the National Bioenergy Center at NREL. Mr. Schell has more than 25 years of research experience in bio-based conversion of lignocellulosic biomass and has expertise in integrated operations at the bench and pilot scales. He also manages numerous projects for industrial clients investigating various aspects of lignocellulosic biomass conversion and currently leads a multi-disciplinary team of engineers, microbiologists, and chemists.

Research Interests

  • Integrated biomass processing
  • High solids biomass conversion
  • Fermentation development
  • Separation processes
  • Technoeconomic analysis
  • Measurement uncertainty
  • Pilot plant operation and process scale up


M.S., Engineering and Technology Management, Colorado School of Mines   
M.S., Chemical Engineering, Colorado School of Mines
B.S., Engineering Physics, Colorado School of Mines

Professional Experience

  • Senior Research Supervisor, NREL, Golden, CO, 2005–Present
  • Senior Biochemical Engineer, NREL, Golden, CO, 1997–2005
  • Staff Engineer, NREL, Golden, CO, 1988–1997
  • Associate Scientist, Solar Energy Research Institute, Golden, CO, 1980–1988

Selected Publications

Humbird, D.; Mohagheghi, A.; Dowe, N.; Schell, D. (2010). "Economic Impact of Total Solids Loading on Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Dilute-Acid Pretreated Corn Stover." Biotechnology Progress (Published online 22 April 2010).

Mohagheghi, A.; Schell, D. J. (2010). "Impact of Recycling Stillage on Conversion of Dilute Sulfuric Acid Pretreated Corn Stover to Ethanol." Biotechnology and Bioengineering (105); pp. 992-996.

Grzenia, D.; Schell, D. J.; Wickramasinghe, R. (2010). "Detoxification of Biomass Hydrolysates by Reactive Membrane Extraction." Journal of Membrane Science (348); pp. 6-12.

Dutta, A.; Dowe, N.; Ibsen, K. N.; Schell, D. J.; Aden, A. (2010). "An Economic Comparison of Different Fermentation Configurations to Convert Corn Stover to Ethanol using Z. mobilis and Saccharomyces." Biotechnology Progress (26); pp. 64-72.

Weiss, N.; Farmer, J.; Schell, D. J. (2010). "Impact of Corn Stover Composition on Hemicellulose Conversion during Dilute Acid Pretreatment and Enzymatic Cellulose Digestibility of the Pretreated Solids." Bioresource Technology (101); pp. 674-678.

Grzenia, D. L.; Schell, D. J.; Wickramasinghe, S. R. (2008). "Membrane Extraction for Removal of Acetic Acid from Biomass Hydrolysates." Journal of Membrane Science (322); pp. 189-195.

Hodge, D. B.; Karim, M. N.; Schell, D. J.; McMillan, J. D. (2008). "Soluble and Insoluble Solids Contribution to High-Solids Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Lignocellulose." Bioresource Technology (99); pp. 8940-8948.

Bower, S.; Wickramasinghe, R.; Nagle, N.; Schell, D. J. (2008). "Modeling Sucrose Hydrolysis in Dilute Sulfuric Acid Solutions at Pretreatment Conditions for Lignocellulosic Biomass."  Bioresource Technology (99); pp. 7354-7362.

Schell, D. J.; Dowe, N.; Ibsen, K.; Riley, C.; Ruth, M.; Lumpkin, R. (2007). "Contaminant Occurrence, Identification and Control in a Pilot-Scale Corn Fiber to Ethanol Conversion Process." Bioresource Technology (98); pp. 2942-2948.

Ishizawa, C.; Davis, M.; Schell, D. J.; Johnson, D. K. (2007). "Porosity and its Effect on the Digestibility of Dilute Sulfuric Acid Pretreated Corn Stover." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (55); pp. 2575-2581.

Katzen, R.; Schell, D. J. (2006). "Lignocellulosic Feedstock Biorefinery: History and Plant Development for Biomass Hydrolysis." Kamm, B., Gurber, P., Kamm, M., eds. Biorefineries – Industrial Processes and Production: Status Quo and Future Direction, Vol. 1. Weinheim, Germany: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co.; pp. 129-136.

Schell, D. J.; Riley, C. J.; Dowe, N.; Farmer, J.; Ibsen, K. N.; Ruth, M. F.; Toon, S. T.; Lumpkin, R. (2004). "A Bioethanol Process Development Unit: Initial Operating Experiences and Results with a Corn Fiber Feedstock." Bioresource Technology (91); pp. 179-188.

Schell, D. J.; Farmer, J.; Newman, M.; McMillan, J. D. (2003). "Dilute-Sulfuric Acid Pretreatment of Corn Stover in Pilot-Scale Reactor: Investigation of Yields, Kinetics, and Enzymatic Digestibilities of Solids." Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology (105-108); pp. 69-86.

Saez, J. C.; Schell, D. J.; Tholudur, A.; Farmer, J.; Hamilton, J.; Colucci, J. A.; McMillan, J. D. (2002). "Carbon Mass Balance Evaluation of Cellulase Production on Soluble and Insoluble Substrates." Biotechnology Progress (18); pp. 1400-1407.

Schell, D. J.; Farmer, J.; Hamilton, J.; Lyons, B.; McMillan, J. D.; Saez, J. C.; Tholudur, A. (2001). "Influence of Operating Conditions and Vessel Size on Oxygen Transfer During Cellulase Production." Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology (91-93); pp. 627-642.

Schell, D. J.; Duff, B. (1996). "Review of Pilot Plant Programs for Bioethanol Conversion." Wyman, C., ed. Handbook on Bioethanol: Production and Utilization. Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis; pp. 381-394.

Schell, D. J.; McMillan, J.; Phillipidis, G.; Hinman, N.; Riley, C. (1992). "Ethanol From Lignocellulosic Biomass." Boer, K., ed. Advances in Solar Energy, Vol. 7. Boulder, CO: American Solar Energy Society; pp. 373-448.

Hinman, N. D.; Schell, D. J.; Riley, C. J.; Bergeron, P. W.; Walter, P. J. (1992). "Preliminary Estimate of the Cost of Ethanol Production for SSF Technology." Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology (34/35); p. 639.

Schell, D. J.; Torget, R.; Power, A.; Walter, P. J.; Grohmann, K.; Hinman, N. D. (1991). "A Technical and Economic Analysis of Acid-Catalyzed Steam Explosion and Dilute Sulfuric Acid Pretreatments Using Wheat Straw or Aspen Wood Chips." Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology (28/29); p. 87.

Contact Information

Daniel J. Schell
Senior Engineer and Supervisor, National Bioenergy Center
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
15013 Denver West Parkway, MS 3512
Golden, CO 80401
Phone: 303-384-6869
Fax: 303-384-6827