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Daniel J. Schell

Photo of Daniel Schell

Daniel Schell is Research Supervisor of the Bioprocess Integration R&D section of the National Bioenergy Center at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and currently leads a multi-disciplinary team of engineers and pilot plant technicians. Daniel has more than 30 years of research experience in bio-based conversion of lignocellulosic biomass and has extensive expertise in integrated biomass conversion operations at the bench and pilot scale. He also manages numerous projects for industrial clients investigating various aspects of lignocellulosic biomass conversion to fuels and chemicals.

Research Interests

  • Integrated biomass processing
  • High solids biomass conversion
  • Fermentation development
  • Separation processes
  • Techno-economic 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

  • Principle Manager, NREL, Golden, CO, 2013–Present
  • Senior Research Supervisor, NREL, Golden, CO, 2005–2013
  • 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

Sievers, D.; Tao, L.; Schell, D.J. (2014). "Performance and techno-economic assessment of several solid-liquid separation technologies for processing dilute-acid pretreated corn stover." Bioresour. Technol. (167); pp. 291-296.

Shekiro III, J.; Kuhn, E.; Nagle, N.; Tucker, T.; Elander, R.; Schell, D.J. (2014). "Characterization of pilot-scale dilute acid pretreatment performance using deacetylated corn stover." Biotechnol. Biofuels, (7:23).

Katahira, R.; Sluiter, J.; Schell, D.J.; Davis, M. (2013). "Degradation of carbohydrates during dilute sulfuric acid pretreatment can interfere with lignin measurements in solid residues." J. of Agricul. Food Chem. (61:13); pp. 3286-3292.

Borole, A.P.; Hamilton, C.Y.; Schell, D.J. (2013). "Conversion of residual organics in corn stover-derived biorefinery stream to bioenergy via a microbial fuel cell." Env. Sci. Technol. (47:1); pp. 642-648.

Grzenia, D.; Schell, D.J.; Wickramasinghe, S.R. (2012). "Membrane extraction for detoxification of biomass hydrolysates." Biosourc. Technol. (111); pp. 248-254.

Jennings, E.; Schell, D.J. (2011). "Conditioning of dilute-acid pretreated corn stover hydrolysate liquors by treatment with lime or ammonium hydroxide to improve conversion of sugars to ethanol." Bioresour. Technol. (102); pp. 1240-1245.

Humbird, D.; Mohagheghi, A.; Dowe, N.; Schell, D.J. (2010). "Economic Impact of Total Solids Loading on Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Dilute-Acid Pretreated Corn Stover." Biotechnol. Progress (26); pp. 1245-1251.

Mohagheghi, A.; Schell, D.J. (2010). "Impact of recycling stillage on conversion of dilute sulfuric acid pretreated corn stover to ethanol." Biotechnol. Bioeng. (105); pp. 992-996.

Grzenia, D.; Schell, D.J.; Wickramasinghe, S.R. (2010). "Detoxification of biomass hydrolysates by reactive membrane extraction." J. 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." Biotechnol. 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." Bioresour. Technol. (101); pp. 674-678.

Grzenia, D.L.; Schell, D.J.; Wickramasinghe, S.R. (2008). "Membrane extraction for removal of acetic acid from biomass hydrolysates." J 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 Technol. (99); pp. 8940-8948.

Bower, S.; Wickramasinghe, S.R.; Nagle, N.; Schell, D.J. (2008). "Modeling sucrose hydrolysis in dilute sulfuric acid solutions at pretreatment conditions for lignocellulosic biomass."  Bioresource Technol. (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 Technol. (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." J Agric. Food Chem. (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., ed. Biorefineries – Industrial Processes and Production: Status Quo and Future Direction. Vol. 1, Weinhein, 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." App. Biochem. Biotechnol. (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." Biotechnol. Prog. (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." App. Biochem. Biotech. (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, Inc.; pp. 373-448.

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); pp. 87-97.

Contact Information

Daniel J. Schell
Manager, Bioprocess Integration R&D
National Bioenergy Center
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
15013 Denver West Parkway, MS 3512
Golden, CO 80401
Phone: 303-384-6869
Fax: 303-384-6827