Skip to main content

Research Interests

  • Production of premium fuels and chemicals from biomass components

  • Hydrodeoxygenation of biomass-derived components

  • High performance size exclusion chromatography of biomass-derived components

Areas of Expertise

  • Electrochemistry

  • Biomass composition and analysis

  • Biomass pretreatment

  • Biomass pyrolysis oil fractionation and analysis

  • Lignin chemistry

  • High-temperature and pressure lignin hydrotreating

  • Catalytic hydrodeoxygenation

  • Sugar and furan chemistries

  • Supercritical fluid extraction of biomass components

  • High-performance liquid and size exclusion chromatographies


  • Postdoctoral Fellow Solar Energy Research Institute, Golden, CO, 1982–1984

  • Postdoctoral Fellow University of California, Los Angeles, 1980–1982

  • Ph.D., Electrochemical Engineering, University of Southampton, England, 1980

  • B.S., Chemistry, University of Southampton, England, 1977

Professional Experience

  • Scientist V, Manager, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), 2013–present

  • Senior Scientist II, NREL, 1998–2013

  • Acting Branch Manager, NREL, 1992–1993

  • Senior Chemist, NREL, 1989–1998

  • Staff Electrochemical Engineer, NREL, 1984–1989

Associations and Accreditations/Memberships

  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AICHE)

  • American Chemical Society (ACS) — Cellulose and Renewables Division

  • Editorial board, Biotechnology for Biofuels journal

Featured Publications

  1. "Investigation of the role of lignin in biphasic xylan hydrolysis during dilute acid and organosolv pretreatment of corn stover," Green Chemistry (2015)

  2. "Chapter 19: A Route from Biomass to Hydrocarbons via Depolymerization and Decarboxylation of Microbially Produced Polyhydroxybutyrate," in Direct Microbial Conversion of Biomass to Advanced Biofuels (2015)

  3. "Effect of mechanical disruption on the effectiveness of three reactors used for dilute acid pretreatment of corn stover Part 1: chemical and physical substrate analysis," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2014)

  4. "Investigation of Xylose Reversion Reactions That Can Occur during Dilute Acid Pretreatment," Energy & Fuels (2013)

  5. "Challenges for assessing the performance of biomass degrading biocatalysts," Biomass Conversion (2012)

  6. "Effects of alkaline or liquid-ammonia treatment on crystalline cellulose: changes in crystalline structure and effects on enzymatic digestibility," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2011)

  7. "Glucose Reversion Reaction Kinetics," J. Agric. Food Chem (2010)

  8. "Cellulose crystallinity index: measurement techniques and their impact on interpreting cellulase performance," Biotechnol. Biofuels (2010)

  9. "Chapter 14: Pretreatments for enhanced digestibility of feedstocks," in Biomass Recalcitrance: Deconstructing the Plant Cell Wall for Bioenergy (2009)

  10. Top Value-Added Chemicals from Biomass, DOE Report (2007)

  11. "Cellulase digestibility of pretreated biomass is limited by cellulose accessibility," Biotechnology and Bioengineering (2007)

  12. "Base-catalyzed depolymerization of lignin: Separation of monomers," Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering (2007)

  13. "Biomass recalcitrance: Engineering plants and enzymes for biofuels production," Science (2007)

  14. "Advance in the thermal depolymerization of lignin via base-catalysis," Science in Thermal and Chemical Biomass Conversion (2005)

  15. "Organosolv pretreatment for enzymatic hydrolysis of poplars. 2. Catalyst effects and the combined severity parameter," Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. (1990)

View all NREL Publications for David K.Johnson.