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David N. Thompson

Biological Systems Department
Idaho National Laboratory
P.O. Box 1625
Idaho Falls, ID 83415-2203
USA
Phone: (208) 526-3977
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Current Projects


  • Principal Investigator for a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with an industry partner to develop thermoacidophilic enzymes for bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass to fuels and chemicals. The project is industry-funded and is an outgrowth of Idaho National Laboratory’s (INL's) discovery and development of Xtreme Xylanase, an extreme thermoacidophilic xylanase enzyme that was awarded a 2006 R&D 100 Award by R&D Magazine as one of the 100 most important technological innovations of 2005.

  • Principal Investigator for a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Washington State University, the University of California-Davis, Glatfelter Corp., Strandex Inc. and ECO:LOGIC Inc. to develop a system to produce polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) in wastewater treatment systems, utilizing pulp and paper mill effluents as the sole carbon source. The PHAs are being tested in composite formulations for production of structural-engineered wood composites. The project is funded jointly by the Industrial Technologies Program at the Department of Energy and by industry partners.

  • Principal Investigator for a Department of Energy Biomass Program-funded project that is investigating the potential use of endoxylanase enzymes in agricultural biomass storage and queuing systems. The goal of the project is to assess potential benefits of limited degradation of the hemicellulose fraction during storage on the handling characteristics and costs and on downstream processing in a biorefinery.

  • Co-Investigator with William Apel, Jeff Lacey, Brady Lee, Deborah Newby, David Reed, and Vicki Thompson of the Biological Systems Department at INL on utilizing a systems biology approach to understanding lignocellulose-derived carbon metabolism by a thermoacidophile. This is an internally-funded INL Research and Development project.

  • Co-Investigator with Fred Stewart, Mason Harrup, and Mike Benson of the Interfacial Chemistry Department at INL to develop catalytic membrane-based chemical separations to enable biorefinery systems. This is an internally-funded INL Research and Development project.

  • Research Interests


  • Biological transformations of renewable feedstocks to value-added products

  • Biological methods for upgrading renewable feedstock quality

  • Application of biological conversions to the development of sustainable energy systems

  • Extremophilic enzymes and organisms

  • Renewable energy.

  • Education


  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1995-1997, administered by Associated Western Universities, Inc., and served at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. Developed bioremediation technologies for acid rock drainage, volatile organic contaminants, and selenium. Designed and tested a bacterial cellulose production method and system utilizing Acetobacter xylinum.

  • Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, 1994, Michigan State University. Funded by the NSF Center for Microbial Ecology. Dissertation: "In vitro depolymerization of natural insoluble lignin in aqueous media by the extracellular peroxidases of Phanerochaete chrysosporium."

  • M.S. in Chemical Engineering, 1989, Michigan State University. Thesis: "The effects of physical and chemical constraints on the enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulosic materials."

  • B.S. in Chemical Engineering, 1987, Purdue University.

  • Patents


  • U.S. Patent No. 5,772,887 - Modular bioreactor for remediation of liquid streams and methods for using the same (with Karl S. Noah and Raymond L. Sayer)

  • U.S. Patent No. 6,579,821 - Method for reactivating solid catalysts used in alkylation reactions (with Daniel M. Ginosar, Kyle Coates, David J. Zalewski, and Robert V. Fox)

  • U.S. Patent No. 6,729,951 - Method and apparatus for selectively harvesting multiple components of a plant material (with Reed L. Hoskinson, J. Richard Hess, Kevin L. Kenney, John M. Svoboda, Thomas D. Foust, and William T. McKean)

  • U.S. Patent No. 6,887,813 - Method for reactivating solid catalysts used in alkylation reactions (with Daniel M. Ginosar, Kyle Coates, David J. Zalewski, and Robert V. Fox)

  • Canada Patent No. 2,411,091 - Method for reactivating solid catalysts used in alkylation reactions (with Daniel M. Ginosar, Kyle Coates, David J. Zalewski, and Robert V. Fox)

  • PCT Patent Application, Publication No. WO 2001/ 096,013 A1 - Method for reactivating solid catalysts used in alkylation reactions (with Daniel M. Ginosar, Kyle Coates, David J. Zalewski, and Robert V. Fox)

  • U.S. Patent Application, Publication No. US 2004/0063567 A1 - A method and system for reactivating solid catalysts and a method and system for recycling supercritical fluids used to reactivate the solid catalysts (with Daniel M. Ginosar and Raymond P. Anderson)

  • U.S. Patent Application, Publication No. US 2007/0099282 A1 - Enzyme and methodology for the treatment of a biomass (with Vicki S. Thompson, William A. Apel, and Kästli D. Schaller)

  • PCT Patent Application, Publication No. WO 2007/055,984 A2 - Enzyme and methodology for the treatment of biomass (with Vicki S. Thompson, William A. Apel, and Kästli D. Schaller)

  • U.S. Patent Application, filed September 17, 2007 - Conversion of crop seed oils to jet fuel and associated methods (with Daniel M. Ginosar, and Lucia M. Petkovic)

  • U.S. Patent Application, filed January 25, 2008 - Thermal and acid tolerant -xylosidases, genes encoding, related organisms, and methods (with V.S. Thompson, K.D. Schaller, and W.A. Apel)

  • U.S. Patent Application, filed January 31, 2008 - Thermophilic and thermoacidophilic biopolyme degrading genes and enzymes from Alicyclobacillus acidocaldarius and related organisms, methods (with W.A. Apel, V.S. Thompson, and D.W. Reed)

  • Selected Publications


  • Smith, W.A., D.N. Thompson, V.S. Thompson, and C.W. Radtke, "Assessment of xylanase activity in dry storage as a potential method of reducing feedstock cost," in preparation for Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol

  • Mockos, G.R.,  W.A. Smith, F.J. Loge, and D.N. Thompson, "Sustainable production of polyhydroxyalkanoates from foul condensates by pulp mill waste activated sludge," in preparation for Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol

  • Mockos, G.R.,  W.A. Smith, F.J. Loge, and D.N. Thompson, "Effect of carbon to nitrogen ratio on polyhydroxyalkanoate production by pulp mill activated sludge," in preparation for Biotechnol. Bioeng

  • Coats, E.R.,  F.J. Loge, W.A. Smith, J.L. Strap, M.P. Wolcott, and D.N. Thompson, "Excess phosphorus removal by mixed microbial consortia in wastewater treatment," Environ. Sci. Technol. (in review)

  • Mockos, G.R., W.A. Smith, F.J. Loge, and D.N. Thompson, "Selective enrichment of a methanol- utilizing consortium using pulp and paper mill waste streams,"         Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol., in press (2008)

  • Coats, E.R.,  W.A. Smith, F.J. Loge, M.P. Wolcott, and D.N. Thompson, "Functional stability of a mixed microbial consortium producing PHA from waste carbon sources," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol., 136-140, 909-925 (2007)

  • Petkovic, L.M., D.M. Ginosar, D.N. Thompson, and K.C. Burch, "Application of supercritical fluids to solid acid catalyst alkylation and regeneration," Ultra-Clean Transportation Fuels, O.I. Ogunsola and I.K. Gamwo (eds.), Oxford University Press, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, ACS Symposium Series, 959,             p. 169-179 (2007)

  • Schirp, A., F.J. Loge, K.R. Englund, M.P. Wolcott, J.R. Hess, T.P. Houghton, J.A. Lacey, and D.N. Thompson, "Pilot-scale production and material properties of extruded straw-plastic composites based on untreated and fungal-treated wheat straw," For. Prod. J., 56(10), p. 90-96 (2006)

  • Ginosar, D.M., D.N. Thompson, and K.C. Burch, "Sustainable solid catalyst alkylation of commercial olefins by regeneration with supercritical isobutane," Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 45(2), p. 567-577 (2006)

  • Thompson, D.N., D.M. Ginosar, K.C. Burch, and D.J. Zalewski, "Extended catalyst longevity via supercritical isobutane regenerations of a partially deactivated USY alkylation catalyst," Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 44(13), p. 4534-4542 (2005)

  • Thompson, D.N., J.M. Barnes, and T.P. Houghton, "The effect of additions on the ensiling and microbial community of senesced wheat straw," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol., 121(1-3), p. 21-46 (2005)

  • Thompson, D.N., D.M. Ginosar, and K.C. Burch, "Regeneration of a deactivated USY alkylation catalyst using supercritical isobutane," Appl. Catal. A.: Gen., 279(1-2),      p. 109-116 (2005)

  • Houghton, T.P., D.N. Thompson, J.R. Hess, J.A. Lacey, M.P. Wolcott, A. Schirp, K. Englund, D. Dostal, and F. Loge, "Fungal upgrading of wheat straw for straw-thermoplastics production," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol., 113(1-3), p. 71-93 (2004)

  • Ginosar, D.M., D.N. Thompson, and K.C. Burch, "Recovery of alkylation activity in deactivated USY catalyst using supercritical fluids: A comparison of light hydrocarbons," Appl. Catal. A.: Gen., 262(2), p. 223-231 (2004)

  • Thompson, D.N., T.P. Houghton, J.A. Lacey, P.G. Shaw, and J.R. Hess, "Preliminary investigation of fungal bioprocessing of wheat straw for straw-thermoplastic composites production," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol., 106(1-3), p. 423-436 (2003)

  • Thompson, D.N., J.A. Lacey, and P.G. Shaw, "Post-harvest processing methods for reduction of silica and alkali metals in wheat straw," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol.,        105(1-3), p. 205-218 (2003)

  • Hess, J.R., D.N. Thompson, R.L. Hoskinson, P.G. Shaw, and D.R. Grant, "Physical separation of straw stem components to reduce silica," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol.,     105(1-3), p. 43-51 (2003)

  • Ginosar, D.M., K. Coates, and D.N. Thompson, "The effect of supercritical propane on the alkylation of toluene with ethylene over USY and sulfated zirconia catalysts," Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 41(25), p. 6537-6545 (2002)

  • Ginosar, D.M., D.N. Thompson, K. Coates, and D.J. Zalewski, "The effect of critical fluids on solid acid catalyst alkylation," Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 41(12), p. 2864-2873 (2002)

  • Noah, K.S.,  S.L. Fox, D.F. Bruhn, D.N. Thompson, and G.A. Bala, "Continuous production and separation of surfactin from potato process effluent by Bacillus subtilis 21332," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol., 99(1-3), p. 803-813 (2002)

  • Thompson, D.N., D.M. Ginosar, and K. Coates, "Supercritical fluid regeneration of deactivated solid alkylation catalyst." ACS Fuel Chem. Div. Prepr., 46(1), p. 422-425 (2001)

  • Thompson, D.N., M.A. Hamilton, "Production of bacterial cellulose from alternate feedstocks," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol., 93(1-3), p. 503-513

  • Thompson, D.N., S.L Fox, and G.A. Bala, "The effect of pretreatments on surfactin production from potato process effluents by Bacillus subtilis," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol., 93(1-3), p. 487-501 (2001)

  • Thompson, D.N., R.L. Sayer, and K.S. Noah, "Sawdust-supported passive bioremediation of western United States acid rock drainage in engineered wetland systems," Miner. Metall. Process. J., 17(2), p. 96-104 (2000)

  • Thompson, D.N., S.L. Fox, and G.A. Bala, "Biosurfactants from potato process effluents," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol., 84-86(1-9), p. 917-930 (2000)

  • Bruhn, D.F., D.N. Thompson, and K.S. Noah, "Microbial ecology assessment of a mixed oxide/sulfide dump leach operation," Process Metallurgy 9A. Biohydrometallurgy and the Environment Toward the Mining of the 21st Century, Part A: Bioleaching, Microbiology, R. Amils and A. Ballester (eds.), Elsevier, Amsterdam, p. 799-808 (1999)

  • Kastner, J.R., D.N. Thompson, and R.S. Cherry, "Water soluble polymer for increasing the biodegradation of sparingly soluble vapors," Enzym. Microb. Technol., 24(1/2), p. 104-110 (1999)

  • Thompson, D.N., B.R. Hames, C.A. Reddy, and H.E. Grethlein, "In vitro degradation of insoluble lignin in aqueous media by lignin peroxidase and manganese peroxidase," Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol., 70-72(1-9), p. 967-982 (1998)

  • Thompson, D.N., B.R. Hames, C.A. Reddy, and H.E. Grethlein, "In vitro degradation of natural insoluble lignin in aqueous media by the extracellular peroxidases of Phanerochaete chrysosporium," Biotechnol. Bioeng., 57(6), p. 704-717 (1998)

  • Cherry, R.S. and D.N. Thompson, "Shift from growth to nutrient-limited maintenance kinetics during biofilter acclimation," Biotechnol. Bioeng., 56(3), p. 330-339 (1997)

  • Thompson, D.N., "In vitro depolymerization of natural insoluble lignin in aqueous media by the extracellular peroxidases of Phanerochaete chrysosporium," Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Chemical Engineering and the NSF Center for Microbial Ecology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, 421 pp (1994)

  • Thompson, D.N., H.-C. Chen, and H.E. Grethlein, "Comparison of pretreatment methods on the basis of available surface area," Bioresour. Technol., 39(2), p. 155-163 (1992)

  • Thompson, D.N., H.-C. Chen, and H.E. Grethlein, "Changes in the rate of enzymatic hydrolysis and surface area available to cellulase with pretreatment methods," Biotechnology of Pulp and Paper Manufacture: Applications and Fundamental Investigations, T.K. Kirk and H.-M. Chang (eds.), Butterworth Heinemann, Boston, Chapter 31,      p. 329-338 (1990)

  • Thompson, D.N., "The effects of physical and chemical constraints on the enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulosic materials," M.S. Thesis, Department of Chemical Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, 157 pp (1989).

  • Additional Material


  • Professional contributions:

  • Advisory Board, Forest Bioproducts Research Institute, University of Maine, 2007 to present

  • Technical Advisory Committee, Pacific Regional Biomass Energy Program, Department of Energy, 2001 to 2003

  • National Program Committee, American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), 2002 to present

  • Organizing Committee, annual Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals, Department of Energy, 2002 to present

  • Area 15c Program Chair, Food, Pharmaceuticals, and Bioengineering Division, AIChE, 2003 to 2005

  • Program Chair, Sustainable Biorefineries Topical Conference, AIChE, 2006 to 2008

  • Area 23b Program Chair, Sustainable Engineering Forum, AIChE, 2008 to present

  • Organized and chaired 23 technical sessions at international conferences and symposia since 2002.

  • Recent honors and awards:

  • Frontiers of Engineering Participant, National Academy of Engineering, 2007

  • Idaho Innovation Award Finalist, Idaho Office of Science and Technology, 2006

  • 2006 R&D 100 Award, R&D Magazine, 2006

  • Bechtel 2002 Outstanding Paper, Bechtel Corporation, 2003

  • Bechtel 2000 Outstanding Paper, Bechtel Corporation, 2001.

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