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Research Interests

David W. Templeton is the senior biomass analyst on the Biomass Analysis team (Biomass Compositional Analysis Laboratory) within the National Bioenergy Center (NBC) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). As an analytical chemist, he works with principal investigators, external collaborators, researchers, chemical analysts, and technicians to generate high-quality process data leading to improved biochemical transformations of biomass to renewable fuels and chemicals. In this role, he identifies incoming sample sets, clarifies clients' analytical needs, helps determine sample priority, assigns samples, checks on sample progress, reviews data quality, reports results, and answers any client data questions.

After five years working at an environmental laboratory, Templeton was hired by NREL in 1992. While at NREL, he earned an M.S. in chemistry when he undertook a project that compared CBH I enzymes produced in different fungal hosts. He has used high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), gas chromatography (GC), and wet-chemical techniques to quantify biomass components in feedstocks and process streams, repaired and maintained analytical instrumentation, and developed spectroscopic models to rapidly predict biomass composition. Templeton has helped coauthor several of the Laboratory Analytical Procedures (LAPs) used to determine biomass composition. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications dealing with terrestrial and algal biomass analysis methods and applications of these methods to different processes.

Templeton has collaborated on teams supporting outside companies, such as DuPont, Ecopetrol, Syngenta, Cobalt, Amyris, General Mills, Virent, and Petrobras, where he worked to adapt NREL's analytical capabilities to meet project goals. He was the lead analyst for DuPont cooperative research and development agreement pilot-plant runs, in which he helped develop analytical plans, scheduled and supervised four analysts, confirmed analytical quality, and reported data in near real time. In addition, he led a two-year, internally funded research project to develop microalgal compositional analysis methods that included setting the strategic direction, assembling a team, directing the work, reporting progress, maintaining a budget, and reviewing results. Templeton is currently leading a technical services agreement with Toyota, in which he designs experimental plans, leads the work effort, maintains budgeting, and reports results. He also is responsible for importing and permitting foreign biomass for research purposes.

Other research interests include:

  • Determining the long-term analytical variability of the feedstock analytical methods

  • Closing mass and component balances around pretreatment, saccharification, and fermentation unit operations

  • Determining fast and accurate algal protein analysis methods


  • M.S., Chemistry, University of Colorado—Denver, 2003

  • B.A., Chemistry, University of Colorado—Boulder, 1987

Professional Experience

  • Senior Biomass Analyst, NREL, NBC, Oct. 2004–present

  • Analytical Chemist II, NREL, April 1998Oct. 2004

  • Analytical Chemist I, NREL, Sept. 1992April 1998

  • Chemist, Phoenix Analytical Labs, May 1988Sept. 1992

Featured Publications

  1. "Effect of corn stover compositional variability on minimum ethanol selling price (MESP)," Bioresource Technology (2013)

  2. "Separation and quantification of microalgal carbohydrates," Journal of Chromatography A (2012)

  3. "Accurate and reliable quantification of total microalgal fuel potential as fatty acid methyl esters by in situ transesterification," Anal. Bioanal. Chem. (2012)

  4. "Compositional analysis of lignocellulosic feedstocks. 2. Method uncertainties," J. Agric. Food Chem. (2010)

  5. "Compositional analysis of lignocellulosic feedstocks. 1. Review and description of methods," J. Agric. Food Chem. (2010)

  6. "Assessing corn stover composition and sources of variability via NIRS," Cellulose (2009)

  7. "Rapid biomass analysis: New tools for compositional analysis of corn stover feedstocks and process intermediates from ethanol production," Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology (2003)

  8. "Simultaneous saccharification and cofermentation of dilute-acid pretreated yellow poplar hardwood to ethanol using xylose-fermenting zymomonas mobilis," Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology (1999)

  9. "Enzyme production, growth, and adaptation of T. Reesei strains QM9414, L-27, RL-P37, and rut C-30 to conditioned yellow poplar sawdust hydrolysate," Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology (1999)

View all NREL Publications for David W. Templeton.