Research Interests

Computational and mathematical modeling of catalytic fast pyrolysis

Fuels optimization for high-efficiency engines

Biomass sustainability and land use issues

Affiliated Research Programs

United Nations Bioenergy and Sustainability Assessment (bioenergy sustainability across its whole lifeline including energy, food, and environmental and climate security)

Development of biofuel blending components that can be added to conventional gasoline or diesel engines; spark ignition engine or compression ignition engine efficiency

Fluid dynamics and reaction mechanism modeling of catalytic fast pyrolysis processes

Strategic planning of the proper role of bioenergy in a sustainable energy future

Areas of Expertise

R&D program management

Biomass conversion (biochemical and thermochemical) to fuels and chemicals

Biofuels sustainability

Strategic planning and execution

Proposal development

Computational modeling and mathematical modeling

Fuels optimization for high-efficiency engines

Lab- and pilot-plant safety


Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of Idaho

M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Johns Hopkins

B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University

Professional Experience

Director, Catalytic Carbon Transformation & Scale-up Center, NREL, April 2013–present

Executive Director and Principal Investigator, National Advanced Biofuels Consortium, NREL, August 2010–December 2013

Biofuels Program Manager, NREL, October 2004–August 2010

Bioenergy Research Lead, Idaho National Laboratory (INL), March 1999–October 2004

Senior Researcher, INL, June 1997–March 1999

Team Leader/Project Manager, Industries of the Future Program, Department of Energy (DOE), August 1992–June 1997

Mechanical Systems Engineer, Nuclear Energy Program, DOE, August 1990–August 1992

Test Engineer, Westinghouse Navy Nuclear Program, June 1988–August 1990

Featured Work

Cellulosic Ethanol: Status and Innovation, Current Opinion in Biotechnology (2017)

Understanding Trends in Autoignition of Biofuels: Homologous Series of Oxygenated C5 Molecules, The Journal of Physical Chemistry (2017)

A Quantitative Model for the Prediction of Sooting Tendency from Molecular Structure, Energy & Fuels (2017)

The Role of Bioenergy in a Climate-Changing World, Environmental Development (2017)

Catalyst Residence Time Distributions in Riser Reactors for Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis. Part 2: Pilot-Scale Simulations and Operational Parameter Study, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering (2017)

Predictive Model for Particle Residence Time Distributions in Riser Reactors. Part 1: Model Development and Validation, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering (2017)

Estimation of Heat Transfer Coefficients for Biomass Particles by Direct Numerical Simulation Using Microstructured Particle Models in the Laminar Regime, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering (2016)

Application of a Pyroprobe-Deuterium NMR System – Deuterium Tracing and Mechanistic Study of Upgrading Process for Lignin Model Compounds, Energy and Fuels (2016)

Nonreactive Simulations of a One-Dimensional Steady-State Models Through Three-Dimensional Simulations and Experimental Comparisons, Applied Energy (2015)

"Bioenergy and Sustainability Policy Brief," based on Bioenergy and Sustainability: Bridging the Gaps (2015)

Congressional Testimony

 "Hearing on Food, Feed, and Fuel Production: Today and Tomorrow," U.S. Senate Committee of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, August 18, 2008

"Hearing on a Path Toward Broader Use of Biofuels: Enhancing the Federal Commitment to Research and Development to Meet the Growing Need," U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology, June 14, 2007

View all NREL Publications for Tom Foust.