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Bioenergy Technology


Dr. J. Richard Hess earned his Ph.D. in Plant Sciences from Utah State University. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Botany from Brigham Young University. His research focus at the INL is on feedstock harvesting, handling, and delivery issues associated with cost-effective utilization of lignocellulosic crop residues (i.e., wheat straw and corn stover) in biorefining. Richard has authored or co–authored more than 25 publications and professional presentations and holds three patents with five more patents pending. He served as a Congressional Fellow in the office of Senator Thomas Daschel (D–SD), supporting many important national agriculture research issues, including new and industrial uses of agriculture products, federal grain inspection standards, and plant variety protection. Dr. Hess is the Technical Program Leader for the Bioenergy Programs at INL. Send E-mail


Dr. Christopher T. Wright earned his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah. His research has focused on applied fluid dynamics, thermal hydraulics, and two–phase flow. Chris performed work at the INL’s Advanced Test Reactor (ATR), resulting in a new model and critical heat flux correlation for fuel assemblies that is the basis for operation of the ATR at higher power levels. His research includes the use of thermal anemometry and flow visualization techniques to analyze the structure of vortex flows in the wake of lifting bodies. Chris has applied his expertise in fluid dynamics and solid mechanics to investigate flow separation processes in agricultural machinery and biomechanical properties of agricultural residues. Chris has authored or co–authored papers covering topics ranging from nuclear reactors to bioenergy in the areas of flow visualization techniques, computational fluid dynamics simulations, and biomechanical properties of agricultural crops. Dr. Wright is a Research Engineer in the Renewable Energy and Power Department. Send E–mail


Kevin L. Kenney earned his M.S. in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. Kevin has been working in the INL Biomass Program for 5 years, and is currently the lead for all harvest and collection tasks. In addition, Kevin is also leading the feedstock supply system design effort, which integrates core R&D, engineering design, and analysis to identify supply system improvements and technology advancements needed to achieve program feedstock cost and supply targets. Kevin has authored and co–authored several publications and a number of reports in the bioenergy field. He has received one patent and has three pending patents relating to harvesting equipment and technology. Kevin is a Research Engineer in the Industrial and Materials Technology Department. Send E–mail


Dr. Thomas H. Ulrich earned his Ph.D. in Agronomy, University of Illinois, Champaign–Urbana, IL. He also holds a M.S. in Genetics from Washington State University and a B.S. in Zoology from Washington State University, Pullman, WA. He has more than 20 years of university, industrial, and INL R&D experience in plant science and recombinant DNA as applied to a wide range of bacterial, viral, and plant systems. Tom is currently collaborating on Department of Commerce and DOE-funded biomass projects involving biomass-related gene discovery and plant genetic variation and assessing the impact of different types of biomass feedstocks on the feedstock assembly supply chain and at the biorefinery. Dr. Ulrich is an INL Advisory Scientist in the Biological Science Department. Send E–mail


David J. Muth, Jr. holds a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University. Dave is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Iowa State University working at INL as a full-time graduate intern. His background is in computational and numerical modeling and developing software tools that integrate systems of models to support engineering decision–making. Dave has been working with the INL Bioenergy program on the development and implementation of an interactive design and analysis software framework for selective harvest. Send E–mail



D. Brad Blackwelder earned a M.S. in Waste Management and Environmental Science from Idaho State University and a B.S. in Biology from the State University of New York, Albany. He has a broad base of experience in laboratory experimental design and gathering and handling field samples. Brad is a co–inventor on several patents, including the In Situ Bioreactor. For the past 4 years, he has supported the INL Bioenergy Program with his efforts being directed at designing, sampling, and laboratory analysis of field–scale biomass storage experiments. He has extensive laboratory training and experience on a variety of analytical devices, including gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy, high-performance liquid chromatography, and ion chromatography. Brad is a Senior Scientist in the Biological Sciences Department. Send E–mail


Dr. David N. Thompson earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Michigan State University. He also holds M.S. and B.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering. David has 20 years of R&D experience in the areas of lignocellulose pretreatment, biological transformations of renewable feedstocks for processing to value–added products, and biological upgrading of feedstock quality. Since coming to the INL in 1995, he has worked to develop and improve distributed methods for handling and processing renewable feedstocks, including industrial, municipal, and forest products process effluents and wastewaters, and renewable lignocellulosic agricultural residues such as cereal straws and corn stover. He also has worked with several biological and enzymatic systems to produce value–added products from lignocellulose and various industrial waste streams. He has served on project teams whose work has twice been nominated for R&D 100 Awards, winning this award in 2006 for Xtreme Xylanase. He is a co–inventor on nine patents and pending applications, and author or co–author of more than 110 journal articles, reports, and technical presentations. Dr. Thompson is a Senior Scientist in the Biological Sciences Department. Send E–mail

Robert M. Neilson earned a M.S. in Industrial Management and a M.S. in Materials Sciences. Bob is the Department Manager for INL’s Renewable Energy and Power Department and has 23 years of experience at INL. He is responsible for the acquisition, development, and execution of renewable energy and power technology programs that focus on biomass energy, geothermal, hydropower, wind, and distributed power systems. He is the former manager of the Materials and Processes Department, and was a Principal Investigator on a number of research and development projects. Prior to his tenure at INL, he was a Section Leader and Principal Investigator at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Send E–mail



David R. Anderson earned a M.S. in Plant Genetics from the University of Minnesota and a MBA Degree in International Finance and Agribusiness from Santa Clara University. He received a BS in Agronomy/Chemistry from Utah State University. He is the Commercialization Manager for Alternative Energy Technologies in Technology Transfer and Commercialization Department and provides business support to the Bioenergy Program. Prior to joining the laboratory, Mr. Anderson held senior management positions with several chemical and agribusiness companies and was responsible for marketing, business development, and sales activities. Mr. Anderson also has been a board member of a number of genetic engineering and agribusiness companies. Send E–mail


Patrick T. Laney works in the INL’s Renewable Energy and Power Department, which coordinates the INL’s efforts in Bioenergy, Geothermal, Hydropower, Wind, and Power Systems research and development. Pat has worked at the INL for 19 years as a project manager on numerous projects in the energy and environmental areas. He earned a BS and MS in Geology. Send E–mail

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