Technician's Perspective on an Ever-Changing Research Environment: Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Fuels: Abstract No. I&EC-17

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The biomass thermochemical conversion platform at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) develops and demonstrates processes for the conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals including gasification, pyrolysis, syngas clean-up, and catalytic synthesis of alcohol and hydrocarbon fuels. In this talk, I will discuss the challenges of being a technician in this type of researchenvironment, including handling and working with catalytic materials and hazardous chemicals, building systems without being given all of the necessary specifications, pushing the limits of the systems through ever-changing experiments, and achieving two-way communication with engineers and supervisors. I will do this by way of two examples from recent research. First, I will describe a uniqueoperate-to-failure experiment in the gasification of chicken litter that resulted in the formation of a solid plug in the gasifier, requiring several technicians to chisel the material out. Second, I will compare and contrast bench scale and pilot scale catalyst research, including instances where both are conducted simultaneously from common upstream equipment. By way of example, I hope toillustrate the importance of researchers 1) understanding the technicians' perspective on tasks, 2) openly communicating among all team members, and 3) knowing when to voice opinions. I believe the examples in this talk will highlight the crucial role of a technical staff: skills attained by years of experience to build and operate research and production systems. The talk will also showcase theresponsibilities of NREL technicians and highlight some interesting behind-the-scenes work that makes data generation from NREL's thermochemical process development unit possible.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2013
EventAmerican Chemical Society. 245th ACS National Meeting - New Orleans, Louisiana
Duration: 7 Apr 201311 Apr 2013


ConferenceAmerican Chemical Society. 245th ACS National Meeting
CityNew Orleans, Louisiana

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5100-58863


Dive into the research topics of 'Technician's Perspective on an Ever-Changing Research Environment: Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Fuels: Abstract No. I&EC-17'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this