Photo of Mark R. Nimlos

Mark Nimlos

Group Research Manager III-Physics

Orcid ID

The development and deployment of renewable carbon-based transportation fuels, chemicals, and materials is critical to sustainability, energy security, and continued economic growth. Mark Nimlos’ research interests are focused on using thermochemistry to facilitate biomass as a source of renewable carbon, helping grow the bioeconomy. Increasing the use of renewable, biomass-sourced carbon will require developing science and technology for conversion into useful products and demonstrating the performance of these products in existing and future applications. During his 31-year career at NREL, Mark has worked on pyrolysis, gasification, and catalytic fast pyrolysis as conversion technologies to produce biofuels, which are a sustainable, inexpensive energy source for transportation. To facilitate the economics of biorefineries that would produce biofuels, he has recently focused his research efforts on producing chemical and material coproducts from these biofuel conversion processes. Developing uses for these coproducts will help improve the economic resilience of biorefineries and will improve the sustainability of plastics and other carbon-based materials.

Research Interests

Research Projects

Renewable graphite for lithium ion batteries

Catalytic fast pyrolysis coproducts

Partial oxidation of lignin pyrolysis products

Inverse design of biomass-based polymers using machine learning

Kinetic modeling of ether combustion

Affiliated Research Programs

Catalytic Pyrolysis Science (PI)

Computational Pyrolysis Consortium (contributor)

Catalytic Upgrading of Pyrolysis Products (collaborator)

Catalytic Development/Testing: Deconstruction (collaborator)

Thermochemical Platform Analysis (collaborator)

Thermochemical Feedstocks Interface (collaborator)

Areas of Expertise

Chemical reaction energetics and kinetics

Biomass pyrolysis and gasification

Heterogeneous catalysis (partial oxidation and photocatalytic oxidation)

Molecular modeling (quantum modeling and kinetic modeling of reaction and molecular dynamics modeling)


Molecular spectroscopy


Ph.D., Chemical Physics, University of Colorado at Boulder

B.S., Chemistry, University of Massachusetts

Professional Experience

Group Leader, NREL, Separations and Polymer Sciences, 2007–present

Staff Scientist, NREL (Solar Energy Research Institute), NBC, 19902007

Postdoctoral Researcher, Solar Energy Research Institute, 19891990

Editorial Boards

Editor, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis

Featured Work

Biomass Pyrolysis and Gasification

Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis of Biomass: The Reactions of Water and Aromatic Intermediates Produces Phenols, Green Chemistry (2015)

Real-Time Monitoring of the Deactivation of HZSM-5 During Upgrading of Pine Pyrolysis Vapors, Green Chemistry (2014)

Upgrading Biomass Pyrolysis Vapors over βZeolites: Role of Silica-to-Alumina Ratio, Green Chemistry (2014)

Molybdenum Incorporated Mesoporous Silica Catalyst for Production of Biofuels and Value-Added Chemicals via Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis, Green Chemistry (2015)

Application of an Fourier Transform-Infrared Imaging Tool for Measuring Temperature or Reaction Profiles in Pyrolyzed Wood, Energy & Fuels (2011)

Biomass Pyrolysis and Gasification of Varying Particle Sizes in a Fluidized-Bed Reactor, Energy & Fuels (2011)

Pilot-Scale Gasification of Corn Stover, Switchgrass, Wheat Straw, and Wood: 1. Parametric Study and Comparison with Literature, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research (2010)

Elucidation of Biomass Pyrolysis Products Using a Laminar Entrained Flow Reactor and Char Particle Imaging, Energy & Fuels (2011)

Real-Time and Post-Reaction Microscopic Structural Analysis of Biomass Undergoing Pyrolysis, Energy & Fuels (2009)

Decomposition of Model Compounds

The Thermal Decomposition of the Benzyl Radical in a Heated Micro-Reactor. I. Experimental Findings, Journal of Chemical Physics (2015)

Biomass Pyrolysis: Thermal Decomposition Mechanisms of Furfural and Benzaldehyde, Journal of Chemical Physics (2013)

Polarized Matrix Infrared Spectra of Cyclopentadienone: Observations, Calculations, and Assignment for an Important Intermediate in Combustion and Biomass Pyrolysis, Journal of Physical Chemistry A (2014)

Direct Detection of Products from the Pyrolysis of 2-Phenethyl Phenyl Ether, Journal of Physical Chemistry A (2011)

Unimolecular Thermal Decomposition of Phenol and d5-Phenol: Direct Observation of Cyclopentadiene Formation via Cyclohexadienone, Journal of Chemical Physics (2012)

Computational Modeling

Ethanol Dehydration in HZSM-5 Studied by Density Functional Theory: Evidence for a Concerted Process, Journal of Physical Chemistry A (2015)

Biomass Particle Models with Realistic Morphology and Resolved Microstructure for Simulations of Intraparticle Transport Phenomena, Energy & Fuels (2015)

Bimolecular Decomposition Pathways for Carboxylic Acids of Relevance to Biofuels, Journal of Physical Chemistry A (2015)

Comparison of Unimolecular Decomposition Pathways for Carboxylic Acids of Relevance to Biofuels, Journal of Physical Chemistry A (2014)

Binding Preferences, Surface Attachment, Diffusivity, and Orientation of a Family 1 Carbohydrate-binding Module on Cellulose, Journal of Biological Chemistry (2012)

Mechanisms of Glycerol Dehydration, Journal of Physical Chemistry A (2006)

Biomass Preteatment

Investigation of Xylose Reversion Reactions in Dilute Acid Pretreatment, Energy & Fuels (2013)

Glucose Reversion Reaction Kinetics, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2009)


Intense, Hyperthermal Source of Organic Radicals for Matrix-Isolation Spectroscopy, Review of Scientific Instruments (2003)

Propargyl Radical: Ab Initio Anharmonic Modes and the Polarized Infrared Absorption Spectra of Matrix-Isolated HCCCH2, Journal of Physical Chemistry A (2005)

Polarized Infrared Absorption Spectra of Matrix-Isolated Allyl Radicals, Journal of Physical Chemistry A (2001)

Polarized Infrared Absorption Spectrum of Matrix-Isolated Methylperoxyl Radicals, CH3OO X̃ 2A, Journal of Physical Chemistry A (2002)

The Pyrolysis of Anisole (C6H5OCH3) Using a Hyperthermal Nozzle, Fuel (2001)

The Infrared Spectrum of the Matrix-Isolated Phenyl Radical, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2001)

View all NREL Publications for Mark R. Nimlos.


Naphthalene-Containing Polymers and Methods of Making the Same, U.S. Patent No. 10,364,322 B2 (2019)

Cellobiohydrolase I Enzymes, U.S. Patent No. 8,637,293 (2014)