Jim McMillan
1994 …2021

Research Activity per Year


Personal Profile

James D. McMillan works to advance lignocellulose and algal biorefining science and technology. His primary research and development focus is on lignocellulosic biomass conversion process technology development, integration, and scale up. He has more than 25 years of research experience on biochemical and sugar platform approaches to biomass conversion and integrating the key processing steps of pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis, and fermentation/microbial conversion to efficiently and cost-effectively produce biofuels and bio-based chemicals from cellulosic feedstocks.

Jim currently leads the NREL's Biomass Program's Separations Development and Applications task. Previously, he also led NREL's Integrated Biochemical Process Improvements Validation and Enzyme Validation tasks, supporting the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) by auditing and verifying performance and cost improvements being achieved in DOE cost-shared projects in these technical areas.

Jim is a coinventor on two issued patents, corecipient of two R&D 100 awards, and author or coauthor of 8 book chapters, 45 peer-reviewed publications, more than three dozen nonpublished technical reports, and more than 150 posters and presentations. 

Research Interests

Lignocellulosic biomass compositional analysis

Biomass deconstruction via pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis

Submerged enzyme production, particularly on biomass-derived carbon sources

Mixed sugar fermentation to fuels and chemicals, including hydrolysate toxicity issues

Biorefinery process development and integration, including in-process and product recovery separations

Monitoring and control of biochemical conversion processes, including mass balancing

Conversion process performance measurement and validation

Professional Experience

Chief Engineer, NREL (2014–present)

Group Manager, NREL, Biochemical Process Science & Engineering (2007–2013)

Co-Leader, International Energy Agency, Bioenergy Task 39 ("Liquid Biofuels") (2004–2006)

Senior II Group Manager, NREL, Biochemical Refining Process R&D (2004–2006)

Senior Biochemical Engineer II, NREL (1998–2004)

Senior Biochemical Engineer I, NREL Biotechnology Center (1994–1998)

Staff Biochemical Engineer, Solar Energy Research Institute/NREL Alternative Fuels Division (1990–1994) 

Education/Academic Qualification

Bachelor, Chemical Engineering, Colorado State University

PhD, Biochemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Master, Chemical Engineering Practice, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


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