Research Interests

  • Techno-economic analysis

  • Conceptual process design and simulation

  • Process integration, intensification, and synthesis

  • Process optimization and energy system optimization

  • Supply chain simulation and optimization

  • Dynamic process or system computation


  • Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, University of Massachusetts

  • B.S., Chemical Engineering, Tsinghua University

Professional Experience

  • Senior Engineer, National Bioenergy Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2008–present

  • Senior Research Engineer, Solutia Inc., 20052008

  • Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 20042005


  1. "Continuous Production of Poly(Vinyl Butyral)," U.S. Patent No. 9,012,570 (2015)

  2. "Continuous Production of Poly(Vinyl Butyral)," E.P. Patent No. US9012570 B2 (2015)

Featured Publications

  1. "Reducing Minimum Sugar Selling Price (MSSP) and Minimum Ethanol Selling Price (MESP) of the Novel Deacetylation and Disk Refining Process (DDR) with Corn Stover using Response Surface Methodology (RSM) and Techno Economic Analysis (TEA)," Biotechnology for Biofuels (forthcoming 2015)

  2. "Perspectives on Process Analysis for Advanced Biofuel Production," in Direct Microbial Conversion of Biomass to Advanced Biofuels (2015)

  3. Process Design and Economics for the Conversion of Lignocellulosic Biomass to Hydrocarbons: Dilute-Acid and Enzymatic Deconstruction of Biomass to Sugars and Catalytic Conversion of Sugars to Hydrocarbons, NREL Technical Report (2015)

  4. "High temperature pre-digestion of corn stover biomass for improved product yields," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2014)

  5. "Chapter 5: Conversion Technologies for Biofuels and Their Use," in SCOPE Bioenergy & Sustainability (2014)

  6. "A highly efficient dilute alkali deacetylation and mechanical (disc) refining process for the conversion of renewable biomass to lower cost sugars," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2014)

  7. "Performance and techno-economic assessment of several solid–liquid separation technologies for processing dilute-acid pretreated corn stover," Bioresource Technology (2014)

  8. NREL 2012 Achievement of Ethanol Cost Targets: Biochemical Ethanol Fermentation via Dilute-Acid Pretreatment and Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Corn Stover, NREL Technical Report (2014)

  9. "Bioconversion of Natural Gas to Liquid Fuel: Opportunities and Challenges," Biotechnology Advances (2014)

  10. "Ethylene forming enzyme and bio-ethylene production," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2014)

  11. "Chapter 19: Techno-Economic Analysis and Life-Cycle Assessment of Lignocellulosic Biomass to Sugars Using Various Pretreatment Technologies," in Biological Conversion of Biomass for Fuels and Chemicals: Explorations from Natural Utilization Systems (2014)

  12. "Comparative Techno-economic Analysis of n-Butanol Production from Corn Grain and Corn Stover," Biofuels Bioproducts & Biorefining (2014)

  13. Process Design and Economics for the Conversion of Lignocellulosic Biomass to Hydrocarbons-Dilute-Acid and Enzymatic Deconstruction of Biomass to Sugars and Biological Conversion of Sugars to Hydrocarbons," NREL Technical Report (2013)

  14. "Comparison of Different Mechanical Refining technologies on the Enzymatic Digestability of Low Severity Acid Pretreated Corn Stover," Bioresource Technology (2013)

  15. "Techno-economic Analysis and Life-cycle Assessment of Cellulosic Iso-Butanol and Comparison with Cellulosic Ethanol and n-Butanol," Biofuels Bioproducts & Biorefining (2013)

  16. "Effect of Corn Stover Compositional Variability on Minimum Ethanol Selling Price," Bioresource Technology (2013)

  17. "Chapter 15: Economics of Pretreatment for Biological Processing," in Aqueous Pretreatment of Plant Biomass for Biological and Chemical Conversion to Fuels and Chemicals (2013)

  18. Biological Conversion of Sugars to Hydrocarbons Technology Pathway, NREL Technical Report (2013)

  19. "Improved ethanol yield and reduced minimum ethanol selling price (MESP) by modifying low severity dilute acid pretreatment with deacetylation and mechanical refining: 2) Techno-economic analysis," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2012)

  20. "Sustained Photosynthetic Conversion of Atmospheric CO2 to Ethylene in Recombinant Cyanobacterium Synechocystis 6803," Environmental Energy and Science (2012)

  21. "Improved ethanol yield and reduced Minimum Ethanol Selling Price (MESP) by modifying low severity dilute acid pretreatment with deacetylation and mechanical refining: 1) Experimental," Biotechnology for Biofuels (2012)

  22. "Process and Technoeconomic Analysis of Leading Pretreatment Technologies for Lignocellulosic Ethanol Production Using Switchgrass," Bioresource and Technology (2011)

  23. Process Design and Economics for Biochemical Conversion of Lignocellulosic Biomass to Ethanol: Dilute-Acid Pretreatment and Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Corn Stover, NREL Technical Report (2011)

  24. "Optimal Design of Sustainable Cellulosic Biofuel Supply Chains: Multiobjective Optimization Coupled with Life Cycle Assessment and Input-Output Analysis," AIChE J. (2011)

  25. "Chapter 4: The Economics of Current and Future Biofuels," in Biofuels: Global Impact on Renewable Energy, Production Agriculture, and Technological Advancements (2011)

  26. "A Techno-economic evaluation of the effects of centralized cellulosic ethanol and co-products refinery options with sugarcane mill clustering," Biomass and Bioenergy (2010)

View all NREL Publications for Ling Tao.

Please contact me with research questions, ideas for collaborations, and questions about techno-economic analysis for biofuel and bioproduct conversion pathways. Please do NOT contact me directly for jobs—see instead information on NREL's Director's Postdoctoral Fellowship program or on NREL Careers in general.