Photo of Rick Elander

Richard Elander

Researcher VI-Chemical Engineering


Rick Elander has more than 25 years of R&D and project management experience, almost exclusively in the areas of biomass conversion to biofuels using various enzymatic and thermochemical hydrolysis routes. He has direct experience in designing, implementing, and utilizing biomass pretreatment, biomass slurry solid-liquid separation, and enzymatic hydrolysis unit operations at both the bench-scale and pilot scale. Rick has extensive personnel and project management experience, including managing complex R&D tasks involving numerous academic and industrial subcontractors, and successfully managing high-visibility and high-impact multi-partner industrial collaborations with domestic and international partners.

Research Interests

Biomass deconstruction, pretreatment, and saccharification

Process integration and scale-up

Process separations and product recovery

Industrial collaborations and project management


M.S., Chemical Engineering (Biochemical Engineering), Colorado State University

B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania

Professional Experience

Biochemical Conversion Platform Manager and Principal Engineer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (2012–present)

Research Supervisor/Senior Engineer II, NREL (2007–2012)

Senior Engineer II and Team/Project Leader, NREL (1999–2007)

Senior Engineer/Team Leader, NREL (1995–1999)

Process Engineer, NREL (1991–1995)

Enzyme Process Development Engineer, Genencor Inc. (1988–1991)

Related Activities

Invited Member, Government of India Department of Biotechnology Bioenergy Centres, Oversight Committee (2014–present)

Invited Member, Government of India Department of Biotechnology Indian Oil Corporation

Centre for Advanced Bioenergy Research, Technical Review Panel (2013–present)

Founding Member and PI, Biomass Refining Consortium for Applied Fundamentals and Innovation (CAFI) (2000–2012)

Invited Lecturer, MIT Professional Education Short Course, "Biofuels from Biomass" (2008–2010)

Organizer/Session Chair, National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Symposium (2007)

Nominated and Invited Participant, National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Symposium (2005)

Session Chair, Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals and AIChE Annual Meeting (multiple years)

Featured Work

Xylose Yields and Relationship to Combined Severity for Dilute Acid Post-Hydrolysis of Xylooligomers, Green Chemistry (2015)

Characterization of Pilot-Scale Dilute Acid Pretreatment Performance Using Deacetylated Corn Stover, Biotechnology for Biofuels (2014)

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)

Chapter 20: Experimental Pretreatment Systems from Laboratory to Pilot Scale, in Aqueous Pretreatment of Plant Biomass for Biological and Chemical Conversion to Fuels and Chemicals (2013)

Improved Xylan Hydrolysis of Corn Stover by Deacetylation with High Solids Dilute Acid Pretreatment, Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research (2012)

Enzymatic Conversion of Xylan Residues from Dilute Acid-Pretreated Corn StoverApplied Biochemistry and Biotechnology (2012)

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)

Surface and Ultrastructural Characterization of Raw and Pretreated Switchgrass, Bioresource Technology (2011)

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

Summary of Findings from the Biomass Refining Consortium for Applied Fundamentals and Innovation (CAFI): Corn Stover Pretreatment, Cellulose (2009)

High Xylose Yields from Dilute Acid Pretreatment of Corn Stover under Process Relevant Conditions, Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology (2009)

Chapter 14: Pretreatments for Enhanced Digestibility of Feedstocks, in Biomass Recalcitrance (2008)

Process and Economic Analysis of Pretreatment Technologies, Bioresource Technology (2005)

Features of Promising Technologies for Pretreatment of Lignocellulosic Biomass, Bioresource Technology (2005)

View all NREL Publications for Rick Elander.


System and Process for Biomass Treatment, U.S. Patent No. 8,512,979 (2013)

Biomass Pretreatment, U.S. Patent No. 8,445,236 (2013)

Treatment of Biomass to Obtain Ethanol, U.S. Patent No. 7,998,713 (2011)

Treatment of Biomass to Obtain Fermentable Sugars, U.S. Patent No.7,932,063 (2011)

Integration of Alternative Feedstreams for Biomass Treatment and Utilization, U.S. Patent No. 7,910,338 (2011)

Biomass Treatment Method, U.S. Patent No. 7,819,976 (2010)

Process for Concentrated Biomass Saccharification, U.S. Patent No. 7,807,419 (2010)

Treatment of Biomass to Obtain a Target Chemical, U.S. Patent No. 7,781,191 (2010)