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James D. McMillan

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James D. ("Jim") McMillan is a Principal Biochemical Engineer and Manager of the Biochemical Process Science & Engineering group within the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) National Bioenergy Center. His research and development focus is on lignocellulosic biomass conversion process technology development and scale up. He has more than 25 years of research experience on biochemical (or sugar) platform approaches to biomass conversion and integrating the key processing steps of pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis, and fermentation/microbial conversion to efficiently and cost effectively produce biofuels and bio-based chemicals from cellulosic feedstocks.

Jim currently co-leads NREL's Biomass Program's Integrated Biochemical Process Improvements Validation task. Previously, he also led NREL's Enzyme Validation task. These validation tasks support the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) by auditing and verifying performance and cost improvements being achieved in DOE cost-shared projects in these technical areas. Additionally, Jim currently co-leads the International Energy Agency's Bioenergy Task 39 focused on accelerating technology development and commercialization of liquid biofuels, and he co-chairs the annual Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals.

Jim is an associate editor for the open access journal Biotechnology for Biofuels and he also reviews for several other journals and U.S. and international funding agencies. He is a member of the American Chemical Society and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), where as a former elected director of the Food, Pharmaceutical, and Bioengineering Division he helped to grow AIChE's biorefinery-related programming (which has since become part of AIChE's Sustainable Engineering Forum). Jim has served on numerous doctoral and masters students' theses committees, and he is or has been an adjunct faculty member in the Colorado State University, University of Colorado, and University of Puerto Rico chemical engineering departments. Overall, Jim is a co-inventor on two issued patents, co-recipient of two R&D 100 awards, and author or co-author of seven book chapters, 45 peer-reviewed publications, more than three dozen non-published technical reports, and more than 150 posters and presentations.


Ph.D., Biochemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2/85-6/90
M.S., Chemical Engineering Practice, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 9/83-2/85
B.S., Chemical Engineering, with High Distinction, Colorado State University, 8/78-12/82.

Professional Experience

Principal Group Manager, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), National Bioenergy Center (NBC), Biochemical Process Science & Engineering, 1/07 to present
Co-leader, IEA Bioenergy Task 39 (Liquid Biofuels), International Energy Agency Bioenergy Implementing Agreement, 2010-present
Senior II Group Manager, NREL NBC, Biochemical Refining Process R&D, 9/04 to 12/06
Senior Biochemical Engineer II, NREL NBC, 4/98 to 8/04
Senior Biochemical Engineer I, NREL Biotechnology Center, 4/94 to 3/98
Staff Biochemical Engineer, SERI/NREL Alternative Fuels Division, 6/90 to 3/94

Research Interests

Lignocellulosic biomass compositional analysis
Biomass deconstruction via pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis
Submerged enzyme production, particularly on biomass-derived carbon sources
Mixed sugar fermentation to fuels and chemicals, including hydrolyzate toxicity issues
Biorefinery process development and integration
Monitoring and control of biochemical conversion processes, including mass balancing
Conversion process performance validation

Selected Publications

  1. McMillan, J.D.; Jennings, E.W.; Mohagheghi, A.; Zuccarello, M. (2011). "Comparative Performance of Pre-commercial Cellulases Hydrolyzing Pretreated Corn Stover." Biotechnology for Biofuels, 4: 29.

  2. Zhu, Y.; Malten, M.; Torry-Smith, M.; McMillan, J.D.; Stickel, J.J. (2010). "Calculating Sugar Yields in High Solids Hydrolysis of Biomass."  Bioresource Technol., 102: 2897-2903.

  3. Zhu, Z.G.; Sathitsuksanoh, N.; Vinzant, T.; Schell, D.J.; McMillan, J.D.; Zhang, Y. P.-H. (2009). "Comparative Study of Corn Stover Pretreated by Dilute Acid and Cellulose Solvent-Based Lignocellulose Fractionation: Enzymatic Hydrolysis, Supramolecular Structure, and Substrate Accessibility." Biotechnol. Bioeng., 103: 715-724.

  4. Viamajala, S.; McMillan, J.D.; Schell, D.J.; Elander, R.T. (2009). "Rheology of Corn Stover Slurries at High Solids Concentrations—Effects of Saccharification and Particle Size." Bioresource Technol., 100: 925-934.

  5. 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: 8940-8948.

  6. Zhang, Y-H. P.; Schell, D.J.; McMillan, J.D. (2007). "Methodological Analysis for Determination of Enzymatic Digestibility of Cellulosic Materials." Biotech. Bioeng. 96: 188-194.

  7. Altintas, M.M.; Eddy, C.K.; Zhang, M.; McMillan, J.D.; Kompala, D.S. (2006). "Kinetic Modeling to Optimize Pentose Fermentation in Zymomonas mobilis." Biotech. Bioeng. 94: 273-295.

  8. Sáez-Miranda, J.C.; Saliceti-Piazza, L.; McMillan, J.D. (2006). "Measurement and Analysis of Intracellular ATP Levels in Metabolically Engineered Zymomonas mobilis Fermenting Glucose and Xylose Mixtures." Biotechnol. Prog. 22: 359-368.

  9. Schell, D.J.; Farmer, J.; Newman, M.; McMillan, J.D. (2003). "Dilute Sulfuric Acid Pretreatment of Corn Stover in a Pilot-Scale Reactor: Investigation of Yields, Kinetics, and Solids Enzymatic Digestibilities." Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol. 105-108: 69-85.

  10. McMillan, J.D.; Newman, M.M.; Templeton, D.W.; Mohagheghi, A. (1999). "Simultaneous Saccharification and Cofermentation of Dilute-acid Pretreated Yellow Poplar Hardwood to Ethanol Using Xylose-Fermenting Zymomonas mobilis." Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol. 77-79: 649-665.

Contact Information

James D. McMillan, Ph.D.
Principal Engineer and Group Manager, Biochemical Process Science & Engineering
National Bioenergy Center
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), MS 3511
15013 Denver West Parkway, Golden, CO 80401
Phone: 303-384-6861
Fax: 303- 384-6877