David K. Johnson

David K. Johnson

Senior Scientist

Photo of David K. Johnson
(303) 384-6263
At NREL Since: 

David Johnson joined NREL in 1982. He has extensive knowledge and practical experience of electrochemistry, biomass composition and analysis, biomass pyrolysis oil fractionation and analysis, lignin chemistry, high-temperature and high-pressure lignin hydrotreating, supercritical fluid separations, and high-performance liquid and size exclusion chromatographies. He has guided research into conversion of lignin into high-octane gasoline blending components via based catalyzed depolymerization followed by catalytic hydrotreating. He has also led research into the effects of harvesting and storage on the composition of biomass feedstocks and the effect of these changes on the interaction between feedstocks and conversion processes for obtaining fuels and chemicals.

Dr. Johnson coordinated International Energy Agency-sponsored "round robins" to evaluate methods and develop standards for biomass and lignin analyses. He has also coordinated analytical capabilities for use by a variety of tasks and has been responsible for high-pressure liquid chromatography and high-performance size exclusion chromatography capabilities. He was a member of the team that received the 1990 R&D 100 Award for developing inexpensive phenol replacements from biomass. He also developed a process for extraction of chemicals from kraft black liquor using supercritical carbon dioxide modified with entrainers.

Prior to joining NREL, he completed postdoctoral studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, on the electrochemical conversion of renewable resources into valuable products. He has co-authored 20 peer-reviewed papers, 24 conference papers, and 16 technical reports.


  • B.S., Chemistry; Southampton University, UK

  • Ph.D., Electrochemical Engineering; Southampton University, UK

NREL Publications 

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