Skip to main content
Photo of Edward W. Jennings

Ed Jennings

Pilot Plant Operations Manager | 303-384-6247

Research Interests

Ed Jennings has more than 22 years of experience in the renewable energy/biotechnology industry with an emphasis on pretreatment conversion technologies, enzymatic hydrolysis, and fermentation research and development, including scientific validation work. Ed started at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in 1994 and since that time has worked in various capacities within the National Bioenergy Center including Senior Research Technician, Scientist I through Scientist III and now is the Integrated Biorefinery Research Facility (IBRF) Pilot Plant Operations Manager. In this role Ed assigns resources to pilot plant projects, directs the daily activities of pilot plant technicians, oversees document control programs, coordinates equipment maintenance and calibration activities, and manages parts and supplies procurements. Also, as the primary interface for pilot plant environmental, safety, and health (ESH) and facility issues, he is responsible for implementing safe work practices promoting a safe and supportive working environment. His research interests include:

  • Detoxification of biomass slurries

  • High solids bio-reactor designs

  • Process integration and scale-up

  • Improved solid-liquid separations technologies

  • Techniques to improve microbial fermentation systems

Ed plays a critical role in the initial shakedown and pilot plant runs of the Ethanol Process Development Unit (1 ton/day pilot plant), which include pretreatment reactors, enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation systems, solid-liquid separations devices, and distillation.

Ed evaluates new enzyme preparations and fermentation microorganisms along with testing performance on cellulosic feedstocks, documenting conversion yields and ethanol tolerance in process relevant conditions, and supporting demonstrations at pilot scale.

Ed performs installation and readiness verification of a pilot-scale counter current pretreatment reactor system, including development of a control system using a distributed access control system and G2 development work.

Ed establishes optimal solid matrix, acid concentration, and time/temperature conditions for acid pretreatment conditions using various small-scale pretreatment reactors (zippercalve, shrinking-bed reactor, steam gun) for hydrolysis of cellulosic feedstocks.

Ed is the lead in the pilot plant fermentation area for the DuPont cooperative research and development agreement campaign that included experimental production work along with scheduling personnel and resources to achieve efficient operations, which culminated in an NREL director's award for the team.

Ed performs experimental work for bench-scale assessment of an ammonium hydroxide conditioning (detoxification) process, as it relates to sugar losses and enzyme performance. This work resulted in reducing sugar losses during conditioning from 13% to less than 2%. Ed is the primary author of a peer-reviewed journal article based on this work.

Ed evaluates enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation performance of various cellulosic feedstocks including corn stover, corn fiber, sugar cane bagasse, wheat straw, rice straw, palm rachis, hardwoods, and softwoods.

Ed provides third-party verification/auditing of performance results by establishing an approved validation plan; working directly with awardees by performing on-site validations to collect and analyze enzyme system performance and techno-economic cost data; and providing recommendations and advice to the U.S. Department of Energy regarding the interpretation of results.


  • B.A., Environmental Science, State University of New York at Plattsburgh

Professional Experience

  • Fermentation Technology Certificate, Professional Institute, MIT

  • Practical Process Control for Engineers & Technicians, Instrument Data Communications

  • Chemical/Petrochemical Process Fundamentals, AIChe Today Series

  • Sun Microsystems Introduction to Solaris UNIX course

  • Introduction to Gensym G2 Object Oriented Programming Course


  1. "Process for the conversion of and aqueous biomass hydrolyzate into fuels or chemicals by the selective removal of fermentation inhibitors," U.S. Patent No. 6,737,258 (2004)

Featured Publications

  1. "Assessing the protein concentration in commercial enzyme preparations," in Biomass Conversion, Methods in Molecular Biology (2012)

  2. "Conditioning of dilute acid pretreated corn stover hydrolysate liquors by treatment with lime or ammonium hydroxide to improve conversion of sugars to ethanol," Bioresource Technology (2011)

  3. "Comparative performance of precommercial cellulases hydrolyzing pretreated corn stover," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2011)

View all NREL Publications for Ed Jennings.