Robert Brown

Robert (Robert) C Brown


Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering
Gary and Donna Hoover Chair in Mechanical Engineering
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering (Courtesy)
Professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (Courtesy)
Food Science and Human Nutrition (Courtesy)
Co-Director, Bioeconomy Institute


1140E Biorenewables Laboratory
617 Bissell Rd
Ames, IA 50011-1098



Dr. Robert C. Brown is Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering and Gary and Donna Hoover Chair in Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University (ISU). He holds the rank of Professor in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, and Food Science and Human Nutrition. Dr. Brown is widely recognized as a thought leader in processing of biomass and plastic wastes into energy, fuels, and chemicals. He was recognized by Biofuels Digest as one of the “Top 100 People” in bioenergy for six consecutive years. His activities have been cited hundreds of times in the press including Nature Magazine, Scientific American, New York Times, Discovery Magazine, BBC, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. In 2022, he led a team that received a Milestone Prize from the XPRIZE Foundation in carbon removal based on technology developed at ISU.

Dr. Brown is the founding director and currently co-director of the Bioeconomy Institute (BEI), which coordinates ISU’s research, educational, and outreach activities related to biobased products and bioenergy. He also helped launch ISU’s Biorenewable Resources and Technology (BRT) graduate program, the first such degree-granting program in the United States. Dr. Brown was the director of the Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies, a center within the Institute for Physical Research and Technology, from 1996 until it was merged with the Bioeconomy Institute in 2014. He was one of the founders of ISU’s BioCentury Research Farm, which was recognized in 2010 by Biofuels Digest as the “Institutional Research Facility of the Year.” He founded the Symposium on Thermochemical and Catalytic Sciences for Biofuels and Biobased Products, which bi-annually brings together international experts in the field.

Dr. Brown has built multi-disciplinary teams at ISU distinguished by the use of thermochemical technologies to produce fermentable sugars from cellulose, provide substrate for gas fermentation, and convert waste plastics into substrate for production of single cell protein and oleochemicals. He has received over $150 million in research contracts and grants during his academic career including $16.5 million for a ConocoPhillips Biofuels program and $22 million for an NSF EPSCoR Track 1 RII Project in Renewable Energy.

Dr. Brown has published over 300 refereed papers and book chapters. He wrote Biorenewable Resources: Engineering New Products from Agriculture, now in its second edition, the most widely used textbook in biorenewables over the last decade. His book Why Are We Producing Biofuels received the Book of the Year Award from Biofuels Digest in 2012. He edited Thermochemical Processing of Biomass, the second edition released in April 2019, and co-edited Fast Pyrolysis of Biomass: Advances in Science and Technology, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2017

Dr. Brown established a brewing laboratory in the Food Science Dept. at ISU in 2021. He secured a gift of brewing equipment from Blichmann Engineering to establish this laboratory. In the same year, he secured a native brewery license for the laboratory and begin offering the course FS HN/ME 373 Science and Practice of Brewing. In late 2023, the program began wholesaling beer produced in the lab’s two barrel brewhouse.

Dr. Brown received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State University in 1980. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering and a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. He received the Don Klass Award for Excellence in Thermochemical Conversion Science in 2015 and the Andrew Chase Division Award in Chemical Engineering from the American Institute of Chemial Engineers in 2020. He has developed twenty-six patented inventions, one of which received a R&D 100 Award from Research and Development Magazine in 1997. 


  • Top 100 People in Bioenergy, Biofuels Digest, Seven Consecutive Years (2011-2017)
  • Don Klass Award for Excellence in Thermochemical Conversion Science, presented by the Gas Technology Institute at the International Conference on Thermochemical Conversion Science, Chicago, IL, November 3, 2015
  • Exemplary Faculty Mentor, Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost, Iowa State University, May 2015
  • Most cited article in Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining in 2013 and 2014 (Brown, T. R., and Brown, R. C., A review of cellulosic biofuel commercial-scale projects in the United States, Vol. 7, Issue 3, pages 235-245, May/June 2013)
  • Eminent Engineer, Tau Beta Pi, inducted as member at Iowa State University, April 28, 2013
  • Book of the Year (“Why Are We Producing Biofuels?”), Biofuels Digest, December 31, 2012
  • First Prize, Climate Change Category, Thirty-Year Challenge Policy Competition, Farm Foundation, for the essay “The Embedded Carbon Valuation System: A Policy Concept to Address Climate Change” (shared with Tristan Brown and Dermot Hayes), 2009
  • Anson Marston Distinguished Professor of Engineering, 2008-present
  • Gary and Donna Hoover Chair of Mechanical Engineering, 2008-present
  • Impact Award, ISU Alumni Association, 2007
  • Dean’s Citation for Extraordinary Contributions, College of Agriculture, Iowa State University, 2007
  • Distinguished Iowa Scientist Award, Iowa Academy of Science, April 21, 2006
  • Iowa Farm Bureau Director, Office of Biorenewables Programs, 2006
  • Distinguished Iowa Scientist Award, Iowa Academy of Sciences, 2006
  • Visiting Scholar, John Deere Company, 2004
  • Bergles Professor in Thermal Science, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University, 2003-2008
  • Vice Provost Special Citation, for service on the BIOWA Board of Directors, Iowa State University Extension, 2003
  • Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineering International, March 2002
  • David R. Boylan Eminent Faculty Award for Research, College of Engineering, Iowa State University, 2002


  • PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Michigan State University, 1980
  • MS, Mechanical Engineering, Michigan State University, 1977
  • BS, Physics, University of Missouri, 1976
  • BA, Mathematics, University of Missouri, 1976

Interest Areas

  • Thermal deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass
  • Upcycling of waste plastics
  • Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies
  • Gasification, fast pyrolysis and solvent liquefaction of biomass and wastes
  • Biorenewable resources
  • Biofuels and biopower
  • Fluidized beds
  • Process intensification



Thermochemical Processing of Biomass: Conversion into Fuels, Chemicals and Power, 2nd Edition

By Robert C. Brown

A comprehensive examination of the large number of possible pathways for converting biomass into fuels and power through thermochemical processes. Bringing together a widely scattered body of information into a single volume, this book provides complete coverage of the many ways that thermochemical processes are used to transform biomass into fuels, chemicals and power. Fully revised and updated, this new edition highlights the substantial progress and recent developments that have been made in this rapidly growing field since publication of the first edition and incorporates up-to-date information in each chapter.


Biorenewable Resources: Engineering New Products from Agriculture, 2nd Edition

By Robert C. Brown

Immense potential for sustainable development lies in the production of fuels, chemicals, and materials from bioresources. This timely book provides comprehensive coverage of the engineering systems that convert agricultural crops and residues into bioenergy and biobased products. Leading the way as the first textbook for coursework on biobased products, “Biorenewable Resources: Engineering New Products from Agriculture” covers not only pertinent technologies but offers a primer on necessary foundation subjects the student or other reader may lack: organic chemistry, thermodynamics, plant science, crop production, environmental science, and process economics.


Why are We Producing Biofuels?

By Robert C. Brown, Tristan R. Brown

“Why Are We Producing Biofuels?” is written for those who are curious about efforts to introduce biofuels into our energy supply but are not satisfied with the publically accessible information on the subject. Written by experts in the field, this book provides educators, policy makers, business leaders, and the general public with an insider’s understanding of the current research in the field as well as an appreciation of the debates surrounding biofuels.


Other Publications:


  • Peterson, C. A., Rollag, S. S., Lindstrom, J. K., Brown, R. C. (2023) The effect of ferrous sulfate pretreatment on the optimal temperature for production of sugars during autothermal pyrolysis, J. Anal. Appl. Pyrolysis 171, 105966.
  • Banik, C., Bakshi, S., Laird, D., Smith, R., Brown, R. C. (2023) Impact of biochar-based slow-release N-fertilizers on maize growth and nitrogen use efficiency, J. Environ Qual. 52, 630-640.
  • Shaw, A., Zhang, X., Ji, S., Fu, J., Lang, L., Brown, R. C. (2023) Mechanistic investigation of char growth from lignin monomers during biomass utilization, Fuel Processing Technology 239, 107556,


  • Ganguly A., Brown R. C. and Wright M. M. (2022) Techno-economic and greenhouse gas emission assessment of carbon negative pyrolysis technology, Green Chemistry 24, 9290.
  • Rollag, S. A., Jeong, K., Peterson, C. A., Kim, K. H., Brown, R. C. (2022) An experimental and modeling study on the catalytic effects of select metals on the fast pyrolysis of hardwood and softwood lignin, Green Chemistry 24, 6189 – 6199.
  • Oyedeji, O. A., Pecha, B. M., Finney, C. E. A., Peterson, C. A., Smith, R. G., Mills, Z., G., Gao, X., Shahnam, M., Rogers, W., A., Ciesielski, P. N., Brown, R. C., Parks II, J. E. (2022) CFD–DEM modeling of autothermal pyrolysis of corn stover with a coupled particle- and reactor-scale framework, Chemical Engineering Journal 446, 136920, 136920.      
  • Schulte, L. A., Dale, B. E., Bozzetto, S., Liebman, M., Souza, G. M., Haddad, N., Richard, T. L., Bass, B., Brown, R. C., Hilbert, J. A., Arbuckle, J. G. (2022) Meeting global challenges with regenerative agriculture producing food and energy, Nature Sustainability,
  • Ganguly A., Brown R. C. and Wright M. M. (2022) Investigating the Impacts of Feedstock Variability on a Carbon-Negative Autothermal Pyrolysis System Using Machine Learning. Front. Clim. 4:842650. doi: 10.3389/fclim.2022.842650
  • Plouffe, C., Peterson, C. A., Rollag, S. S., Brown, R. C. (2022) The role of biochar in the degradation of sugars during fast pyrolysis of biomass, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis 161, 105416.
  • Rollag, S. A., Lindstrom, J. K., Peterson, C. A., Brown, R. C. (2022) The role of catalytic iron in enhancing volumetric sugar productivity during autothermal pyrolysis of woody biomass, Chemical Engineering Journal 427, 131882.
  • Rollag, S. A., Jeong, K., Peterson, C. A., Kim, K. H., Brown, R. C. (2022) An experimental and modeling study on the catalytic effects of select metals on the fast pyrolysis of hardwood and softwood lignin, Green Chemistry 24, 6189, 2022.
  • Li, H., Aguirre-Villegas, H. A., Allen, R. D., Bai, X., Benson, G. H., Beckham, G., Bradshaw, S. L., Brown, J. L., Brown, R. C., Cecon, V. S., Curley, J. B., Curtzwiler, G. W., Dong., S., Gaddameedi, S., Garcia, J. E., Hermans, I., Kim, M. S., Ma., J., Mark, L. O., Mavrikakis, M., Olafasakin, O. O., Osswald, T. W., Papanikolaou, K. G., Radhakrishnan, H., Sanchez Castillo, M. A., Sanchez-Rivera, K. L., Tumu, K. N., Van Lehn, R. C., Vorst, K. L., Wright, M. M., Wu, J., Zavala, V. M., Zhou, P., Huber, G. W. (2022) Expanding plastics recycling, technologies: Chemical aspects, technology status and challenges, Green Chemistry 24, 8899-9002
  • Bakshi, S., Rover, M. R., Smith, R. G., Brown, R. C. (2022) Conversion of phenolic oil from biomass pyrolysis into phenyl esters, Energy Fuels 36, 6317-6328.


  • Peterson, C. A., Hornbuckle, M. K., Brown, R. C. (2021) Biomass devolatilization kinetics of herbaceous and wood feedstocks, Fuel Processing Technology 226, 107068.
  • Peterson, C., Brown, R. C. (2021) Global gas-phase oxidation rates of select products from the fast pyrolysis of lignocellulose, Energy & Fuels 35, 17103-17113.
  • Olafasakin, O., Chang, Y., Passalacqua, A., Subramaniam, S., Brown, R., Wright, M. (2021) Machine-learning reduced order model for cost and emission assessment of a pyrolysis system, Energy & Fuels 35, 9950-9960.
  • Bakshi, B., Banik, C., Laird, D. Smith, R., Brown, R. (2021) Enhancing biochar as scaffolding for slow-release of nitrogen fertilizer, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 9, 8222-8231.
  • Bakshi, S., Laird, D. A., Smith, R. G., Brown, R. C. (2021) Capture and release of orthophosphate by Fe-modified biochars: Mechanisms and environmental applications, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 9, 658-668.
  • Brown, R. C. (2021) The role of pyrolysis and gasification in a carbon negative economy, Process 9, 882,
  • Lindstrom, J. K., Brown, J. L., Peterson, C. A., Ghosh, A., Rollag, S. A., Kouris, P. D., Boot, M. D., Hensen, E. J. M., Gable, P., Smith, R., Brown, R. C., (2021) A novel semi-batch autoclave reactor to overcome thermal dwell time in solvent liquefaction experiments, Chemical Engineering Journal 417, 128074,
  • Chen, B., Koziel, J. A., Lee, M., O’Brien, S. C., Li, P., Brown, R. C. (2021) Mitigation of acute hydrogen sulfide and ammonia emissions from swine manure agitation during 3-hour agitation using pelletized biochar, accepted for publication in Atmosphere.
  • Chen, B., Koziel, J. A., Banik, C., Ma, H., Lee, M., O’Brien, S. C., Li, P., Andersen, D. S., Bialowiec, A., Brown, R. C. (2021) Mitigation of gaseous emissions from stored swine manure with biochar: Effect of dose and reapplication on a pilot-scale, Atmosphere 12, 96, 613614,
  • Chen, B., Koziel, J. A., Bialowiec, A., Lee, M., Ma, H., O’Brien, S., Li, P., Meiirkhanuly, Z., Brown, R. C. (2021) Mitigation of acute ammonia emissions with biochar during swine manure agitation before pump-out: Proof-of-the-concept, Front. Environ. Sci. 9, 613614 10.3389/fenvs.2021.613614.
  • Pecha, M. B., Thornburg, N., Peterson, C., Crowley, M., Gao, X., Lu, L., Wiggins, G., Brown, R., Ciesielski, P. (2021) Impacts of anisotropic porosity on heat transfer and off-gassing during biomass pyrolysis, Energy & Fuels 35, 20131–20141.
  • Brown, R. C. (2021) Heterodoxy in fast pyrolysis, Energy & Fuels 35, 987-1010


  • Brown, R. C. (2020) Process intensification through autothermal processing, Joule 4, 1-22.
  • Hafezisefat, P., Lindstrom, J.K., Brown, R. C., Qi, L. (2020) Non-catalytic oxidative depolymerization of lignin in perfluorodecalin to produce phenolic monomers, Green Chemistry 22, 6567-6578.
  • Ghosh, A., Haverly, M., Lindstrom, J. K., Johnston, P., Brown, R. C. (2020) Tetrahydrofuran-based two-step solvent liquefaction process for production of lignocellulosic sugars, Reaction Chemistry & Engineering 5, 1694-1707, DOI: 10.1039/DORE00192A.
  • Haverly, M. R., Ghosh, A., Brown, R. C. (2020) The effect of moisture on hydrocarbon-based solvent liquefaction of biomass, Fuel 146, 104758.
  • Rollag, S. A., Lindstrom, J. K., Brown, R. C. (2020) Pretreatments for the continuous production of pyrolytic sugar from lignocellulosic biomass, Chemical Engineering Journal 385, 123889.
  • Johnston, P. A., Zhou, H., Wright, M. M., Wen, Z., Brown, R. C. (2020) A lignin-first strategy to recover hydroxycinnamic acids and improve cellulosic ethanol production from corn stover, Biomass & Bioenergy 138, 105579.
  • Peterson, C. A., Lindstrom, J., Polin, J., Johnston, P., Cady, S. D., Brown, R. C. (2020) Oxidation of phenolic compounds during autothermal pyrolysis of lignocellulose, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis 149, 104853.
  • Peterson, C. A., Brown, R. C. (2020) Oxidation kinetics of biochar from woody and herbaceous biomass, Chemical Engineering Journal 401, 126043.
  • Chen, B., Koziel, J.A., Białowiec, A., Banik, C., Lee, M., Ma, H., Li, P., Meiirkhanuly, Z., Brown, R.C. (2020) The impact of surficial biochar treatment on acute H2S emissions during swine manure agitation before pump-out: Proof-of-the-concept, Catalysts 10, 940.
  • Meiirkhanuly, Z., Koziel, J.A., Chen, B., Białowiec, A., Lee, M., Wi, J., Banik, C., Brown, R.C., Bakshi, S. (2020) Mitigation of gaseous emissions from swine manure with the surficial application of biochars, Atmosphere 11, 1179, doi:10.3390/atmos11111179.
  • Meiirkhanuly, Z., Koziel, J.A., Białowiec, A., Banik, C., Brown, R.C. (2020) The proof-of-the concept of biochar floating cover influence on swine manure pH: implications for mitigation of gaseous emissions from area sources, Frontiers in Chemistry 8, 656, doi:10.3389/fchem.2020. 00656.
  • Meiirkhanuly, Z., Koziel, J.A., Białowiec, A., Banik, C., Brown, R.C. (2020) The-proof-of-concept of biochar floating cover influence on water pH, Water 11, 180.
  • Ganguly, A., Martin, I. M., Brown, R. C., Wright, M. M. (2020) Application of hydroprocessing, fermentation, and anaerobic digestion in a carbon-negative pyrolysis, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 8, 16413-1642,
  • Zhou, H., Brown, R. C., Wen, Z. (2020) Biochar as an additive in anaerobic digestion of municipal sludge: Biochar properties and their effects on the digestion performance, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 8, 6391-6401, eng.0c00571.


  • Ghosh, A., Brown, R. C. (2019) Factors influencing cellulosic sugar production during acid-catalyzed solvent liquefaction in 1,4-Dioxane, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 7, 18076-18084,
  • Davis, K., Jarboe, L. R., Salvachúa, D., Beckham, G. T., Wen, Z., Brown, R. C., Smith, R. G., Rover, M. (2019) Promoting microbial utilization of phenolic substrates from bio-oil, Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 46, 1531-1545, DOI: 10.1007/s10295-019-02208-z.
  • Li, W., Dumortier, J.; Dokoohaki, H., Miguez, F., Brown, R., Laird, D., Mba Wright, M. (2019) Regional techno-economic and life cycle analysis of the pyrolysis-bioenergy-biochar platform for carbon-negative energy, Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining 13, 1428-1438.
  • Zhou, H., Brown, R. C., Wen, Z., Anaerobic digestion of aqueous phase from pyrolysis of biomass: Reducing toxicity and improving microbial tolerance (2019) Bioresource Technology 292, 121976, doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2019.121976.
  • Tiarks, J. A., Dedic, C. E., Brown, R. C., Meyer, T. R., Michael, J. (2019) Visualization of physiochemical phenomena of during biomass pyrolysis in an optically accessible reactor, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis 143, 104667, 104667.
  • Rover, M. R., Aui, Alvina, A., Wright, M. W., Smith, R. G., Brown, R. C. (2019) Production and purification of crystallized levoglucosan from pyrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass, Green Chemistry 21, 5980-5989, DOI: 10.1039/c9gc02461a.
  • Polin, J.P., Carr, H. D., Whitmer, L. E., Smith, R. G., Brown, R. C. (2019) Conventional and autothermal pyrolysis of corn stover: Overcoming the processing challenges of high-ash agricultural residues, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis 143, 104679, DOI:
  • Dalluge, D. L., Choi, Y. S., Shanks, B. H., and Brown, R. C. (2019) Comparison of direct contact and indirect contact heat exchange in levoglucosan recovery from cellulose fast pyrolysis, Applied Energy 251, 113346, DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.113346.
  • Polin, J. P., Peterson, C. A., Whitmer, L. E., Smith, R. G., Brown, R. C. (2019) Process intensification of biomass fast pyrolysis through autothermal operation of a fluidized bed reactor, Applied Energy 249, 276-285, DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.04.154.
  • Meiirkhanuly, Z., Koziel, J. A., Bialowiec, A., Banik, C., Brown, R. C. (2019) The-Proof-of-Concept of Biochar Floating Cover Influence on Water pH, Water 11, 1802; doi:10.3390/w11091802.
  • Sathish, A., Sharma, A., Gable, P., Brown, R., Skiadas, I., Zhiyou, W. (2019) A novel bulk-gas-to-atomized-liquid reactor for enhanced mass transfer efficiency and its application to syngas fermentation, Chemical Engineering Journal 370, 60-70, DOI:  10.1016/j.cej.2019.03.183.
  • Timmer, K. J., Brown, R. C. (2019) Transformation of char carbon during bubbling fluidized bed gasification of biomass, Fuel 242, 837-845, DOI: 10.1016/j.fuel. 2019.01.039.
  • Kim, J.-Y., Hafezisefat, P., Cady, S., Smith, R. G., Brown, R. C. (2019) Pre-methylation of lignin to improve storage stability of oil produced by solvent liquefaction, Energy & Fuels 33, 1248-1255, DOI: 10.1021/acs.energyfuels.8b03894.
  • Chi, Z., Zhao, X., Daugaard, T., Dalluge, D., Rover, M., Johnston, P., Salazar, A. M., Santoscoy, M. C., Smith, Brown, R. C., Wen, Z., Zabotina, O. A., Jarboe, L. R. (2019) Comparison of product distribution, content and fermentability of biomass in a hybrid thermochemical/ biological processing platform, Biomass and Bioenergy 120, 107-116, DOI: 10.1016/j.biombioe. 2018.11.006.
  • Lindstrom, J. K., Proano-Aviles, J., Johnston, P. A., Peterson, C. A., Stansell, J. S., Brown, R. C. (2019) Competing reactions limit levoglucosan yield during fast pyrolysis of cellulose, Green Chemistry 21, 178-186, DOI: 10.1039/C8GC03461C.
  • Campuzano, F., Brown, R. C., Martínez, J. D. (2019) Auger reactors for pyrolysis of biomass and wastes, Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews 102, 372-409, DOI: 10.1016/j.rser. 2018.12.014.
  • Kim, J.-Y., Johnston, P. A., Lee, J. H., Smith, R. G., Brown, R. C. (2019) Improving lignin homogeneity and functionality via ethanolysis for production of antioxidants, Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 7, 3520-3526, DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.8b05769.
  • Kim, K. H., Daugaard, T. J., Smith, R., Wright, M. M., Brown, R. C. (2019) Recovery of resin acids from fast pyrolysis of pine, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis 138, 132-136, DOI: 10.1016/j.jaap.2018.12.016.
  • Kim, K. H., Jeong, K., Kim, S.-S., Brown, R. C. (2019) Kinetic understanding the effect of Na and Mg on pyrolytic behavior of lignin using a distributed activation energy model and density functional theory modeling, Green Chemistry 21, 1099-1107, DOI: 10.1039/C8GC02948B.


  • Jayakody, L. N. Johnson, C. W., Whitham, J. M., Giannone, R. J., Black, B. A., Cleveland, N. S., Klingeman, D. M., Michener, W. E., Olstad, J. L., Vardon, D. R., Brown, R. C., Brown, S. D., Hettich, R. L., Guss, A. M., Beckham, G. T. (2018) Thermochemical wastewater valorization via enhanced microbial toxicity tolerance, Energy & Environmental Science 11, 1625-1638, DOI: 10.1039/C8EE00460A.
  • Li, W., Dang, Q., Brown, R. C., Laird, D., Wright, M. M. (2018) The impacts of biomass properties on pyrolysis yields, economic and environmental performance of the pyrolysis-bioenergy-biochar platform to carbon negative energy, Bioresource Technology 241, 959-968, DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2017.06.049.
  • Stanford, J.P., Hall, P.H., Rover, M.R., Smith, R.G., Brown, R.C. (2018) Separation of sugars and phenolics from the heavy fraction of bio-oil using polymeric resin adsorbents, Separation and Purification Technology 194, 170-180, DOI: 10.1016/j.seppur.2017.11. 040.
  • Daugaard, T., Dalluge, D., Brown, R. C., Wright, M. W. (2018) Effect of thermophysical properties of heat carriers on performance of a laboratory-scale auger pyrolyzer, Fuel Processing Technology 176, 182-189.
  • Bbosa, D., Brown, R. C., Wright, M. (2018) More than ethanol: A technoeconomic analysis of a corn stover-ethanol biorefinery integrated with hydroliquefaction to convert lignin to biochemicals, BioFPR 12, 497-509, DOI: 10.1002/bbb.1866.
  • Ghosh, A., Bai, X., & Brown, R. C. (2018) Solubilized carbohydrates production by acid-catalyzed depolymerization of cellulose in polar aprotic solvents, Chemistry Select 3, 4777-4785.
  • Haverly, M. R., Schulz, T. C., Whitmer, L. E., Friend, A. J., Funkhouser, J. M., Smith, R. G., Brown, R. C. (2018) Continuous solvent liquefaction of biomass in a hydrocarbon solvent, Fuel 211, 291-300.
  • Rover, M. R., Smith, R. G. (2018) Enabling biomass combustion and co-firing through the use of Lignocol, Fuel 211, 312-317.
  • Haverly, M. R., Okoren, K. V., Brown, R. C. (2018) Optimization of phenolic monomer production from solvent liquefaction of lignin, ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering 6, 12675-12683, DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.8b01629.
  • Chi, Z., Zhao, X., Daugaard, T., Dalluge, D., Rover, M., Johnston, P., Salazar, A. M., Santoscoy, M. C., Smith, R., Brown, R. C., Wen, Z., Zabotina, O. A., Jarboe, L. R. (2019) Comparison of Product Distribution, Content and Fermentability of Biomass in a Hybrid Thermochemical/ Biological Processing Platform, Biomass and Bioenergy 120, 107-116.
  • Li, W., Ghosh, A., Bbosa, D., Brown, R. C., Wright, M. M. (2018) Comparative technoeconomic and uncertainty analysis of biomass solvent liquefaction and sugar fermentation to ethanol, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 6, 16515-16524, DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.8b03622.


  • Bergem, H., Xu, R., Brown, R. C., Huber, G. W. (2017) Low temperature aqueous phase hydrogenation of the light oxygenate fraction of bio-oil over supported ruthenium catalysts, Green Chemistry 19, 3252-3262.
  • Hoff, T., Homes, M., Proano-Aviles, J., Laleh, E., Liu, D., Brown, R., Tessonier, J. P., (2017) Decoupling the role of external mass transfer and intracrystalline pore diffusion on the selectivity of HZSM-5 for the catalytic fast pyrolysis of biomass, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 5, 8766-8776.
  • Brewer, C. E., Hall, E. T., Schmidt-Rohr, K., Laird, D. A., Brown, R. C., Zygourakis, K. (2017) Temperature and reaction atmosphere effects on the properties of corn stover biochar, AIChE Environmental Progress & Sustainability 36, 696-707 (DOI: 10.1002/ep.12503).
  • Kim, K. H., Brown, R. C., Daugaard, T., Tivol, W. F., Auer, M., Simmons, B., Singh, S. (2017) Strategy for extending the stability of bio-oil derived phenolic oligomer via mild hydrotreatment with ionic liquid stabilized nanoparticles, ChemSusChem 10, 884-893 (DOI: 10.1002/cssc. 201601515).
  • Bourguignon, M., Moore, K. J., Brown, R. C., Kim, K.-H., Baldwin, B. S., Hintz, R. (2017) Variety trial and pyrolysis potential of kenaf grown in Midwest United States, Bioenergy Research Journal 10, 36-49 (DOI: 10.1007/s12155-016-9773-8).
  • Li, W., Qi, D., Smith, R., Brown, R., Wright, M. W. (2017) Techno-economic analysis of the stabilization of bio-oil fractions for insertion into petroleum refineries, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 5, 1528-1537 (DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b02222).
  • Jin, T., Rover, M. R., Petersen, E. M., Chi, Z., Smith, R. G., Brown, R. C., Wen, Z., Jarboe, L. (2017) Damage to the Microbial Cell Membrane during Pyrolytic Sugar Utilization and Strategies for Increasing Resistance, Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology 44, 1279-1292 (DOI: 10.1007/s10295-017-1958-4).
  • Choi, S.-G., Chu, J., Brown, R., Wang, K., Wen, Z., Sustainable biocement production via microbially-induced calcium carbonate precipitation: use of limestone and acetic acid derived from pyrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 5, 5183-5190 (DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.7b00521).
  • Dalluge, D. L., Kim, K. H., and Brown, R. C. (2017) The influence of alkali and alkaline earth metals on char and volatile aromatics from lignin fast pyrolysis, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis 127C, 385-393 (DOI: 10.1016/j.jaap.2017.07.011).
  • Huber, G. W., Brown, R. C. (2017) Prospects and challenges of pyrolysis technologies for biomass conversion, Energy Technology 5, 5-7.
  • Brown, T. R., Brown, R. C. (2017) What Role for the Bioeconomy in an Electrified Transportation Sector? BioFPR 11, 363-372 (DOI: 10.1002/bbb.1747).
  • Hoff, T. C., Gardner, D. W., Thilakaratne, R., Brown, R. C., Tessonnier, J.-P. (2017) Elucidating the effect of desilication on aluminum-rich ZSM-5 zeolite and its consequences on biomass catalytic fast pyrolysis. Applied Catalysis A: General 529, 68-78 ( 2016.10.009).
  • Proano-Aviles, J., Lindstrom, J. K., Johnston, P. A., Brown, R. C. (2017) Heat and mass transfer effects in a furnace-based micropyrolyzer, Energy Technology 5, 189-15 (DOI: 10.1002/ente.201600279).
  • Wang, K., Zheng, Y., Zhu, Xifeng, Brewer, C., Brown, R. C. (2017) Ex-situ catalytic pyrolysis of wastewater sewage sludge – a micro-pyrolysis study, Bioresource Technology 232, 229-234 (DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2017.02.015).
  • McClelland, D. J., Motagamwala, A. H., Li, Y., Rover, M. R., Wittrig, A. M., Wu, C., Buchanan, J. S., Brown, R. C., Ralph, J., Dumesic, J. A., Huber, G. W. (2017) Functionality and molecular weight distribution of red oak lignin before and after pyrolysis and hydrogenation, Green Chemistry 19, 1378-1389 (DOI: 10.1039/C6GC03515A).
  • Fidel, R., Archontoulis, S., Babcock, B., Brown, R. C., Dokoohaki, H., Hayes, D., Laird, D. A., Miguez, F., Wright, M. M. (2017) Commentary on “Current economic obstacles to biochar use in agriculture and climate change mitigation” regarding uncertainty, context-specificity and alternative value sources, Carbon Management 8, 215-217.
  • Li, W., Dang, Q., Brown, R. C., Laird, D., Wright, M. M. (2017) The impacts of biomass properties on pyrolysis yields, economic and environmental performance of the pyrolysis-bioenergy-biochar platform to carbon negative energy, Bioresource Technology 241, 959-968, DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2017.06.049 (featured on cover).
  • Zhang, J., Kim, K. H., Choi, Y. S., Motagamwala, A. H., Dumesic, J. A., Brown, R. C., Shanks, B. (2017) Comparison of fast pyrolysis behavior of cornstover lignins isolated by different methods, Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering 5, 5657-5661.


  • Haverly, M. R., Okoren, K. V., Brown, R. C. (2016) Thermal stability of fractionated bio-oil from fast pyrolysis, Energy and Fuels 30, 9419-9426.
  • Hoff, T., Thilakaratne, R., Gardner, D., Brown, R., Tessonnier, J-P. (2016) Thermal Stability of Aluminum-Rich ZSM-5 Zeolites and Consequences on Aromatization Reactions, Journal of Physical Chemistry 120, 20103-20113.
  • Benipal, N., Johnston, P. A., Gentile, J. C., Brown, R. C., Wenzhen, L. (2016) Direct pyrolysis bio-oil fuel cell, Fuel 185, 85-93.
  • Shen, Y., Brown, R., Wen, Z. (2016) Syngas fermentation of Clostridium carboxidivorans P7 in a horizontal rotating packed bed biofilm reactor with enhanced ethanol production, Applied Energy 187, 585-594.
  • Davis, K., Rover, M., Brown, R. C., Bai, X., Wen, X., Jarboe, L. (2016) Recovery and utilization of lignin monomers as part of the biorefinery approach, Energies 9, 808-835, DOI:10.3390/ en9100808.
  • Hoff, T. C., Gardner, D. W., Thilakaratne, R., Wang, K., Brown, R. C., and Tessonnier, F.-P. (2016) Tailoring ZSM-5 zeolites for the fast pyrolysis of biomass to aromatic hydrocarbons, ChemSusChem 9, 1473-1482.
  • Liu, G., Wright, M., Zhao, , Q., Brown, R. C. (2016) Hydrocarbon and ammonia production from catalytic pyrolysis of sewage sludge with acid pretreatment, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 4, 1819-1826.
  • Ghosh, A., Brown, R. C., and Bai, X. (2016) Production of solubilized and depolymerized carbohydrate from cellulose using non-catalytic, supercritical depolymerization in polar aprotic solvents, Green Chemistry 18, 1023-1031.
  • Zhang, J., Wang, K., Nolte, M. W., Choi, Y., Brown, R. C., Shanks, B. H. (2016) Catalytic deoxygenation of bio-oil model compounds over acid-base bifunctional catalysts, ACS Catalysis, DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.6b00245.
  • Liu, G., Wright, M. M., Zhao, Q., Brown, R. C., Wang, K., Xue, Y. (2016) Catalytic pyrolysis of amino acids: Comparison of aliphatic amino acid and cyclic amino acid, Energy Conversion and Management 112, 220-
  • Thilakaratne, R., Tessonnier, J. P., and Brown, R. C. (2016) Conversion of methoxy and hydroxyl functionalities of phenolic monomers over zeolites, Green Chemistry18, 2231-2239.
  • Broer, K.M., Brown, R.C. (2016) The role of char and tar in determining the gas-phase partitioning of nitrogen during biomass gasification, Applied Energy 158, 474-483.
  • Broer, K.M., Brown, R.C. (2016) The effect of equivalence ratio on partitioning of nitrogen during biomass gasification, Energy & Fuels 30, 407-413.
  • Kieffer, M. Brown, T., Brown, R. C. (2016) Flex fuel polygeneration: Integrating renewable natural gas into Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, Applied Energy 170, 208-218.
  • Hu, W., Dang, Q., Rover, M., Brown, R. C., and Wright, M. (2016) Comparative techno-economic analysis of advanced biofuels, biochemicals, and hydrocarbon chemicals via the fast pyrolysis platform, Biofuels 7, 57-67.
  • Ou, L., Li, B., Dang, Q., Jones, S., Brown, R. C., Wright, M. M. (2016) Understanding the uncertainty in economic feasibility of transportation fuel production via biomass gasification and mixed alcohol synthesis, Energy Technology 4, 441-448.


  • Qi, D., Wright, M., and Brown, R. C. (2015) Ultra-low Carbon Emissions from Coal-fired Power Plants through Bio-oil Co-firing and Bio-char Sequestration, Environmental Science & Technology 49, 14688-14695.
  • Brown, T. R., Brown, R. C., Estes, V. (2015) Commercial-scale production of lignocellulosic biofuels, CEP, March Issue, pp. 62-64.
  • Haverly, M. R., Whitmer, L. E.,  Brown, R. C. (2015) Evaluation of polymer compatibility with bio-oil produced from thermochemical conversion of biomass, Energy & Fuels 29, 7993-7997.
  • Zhao, X., Davis, K., Brown, R. C., Jarboe, L., Wen, Z. (2015) Alkaline treatment for detoxification of acetic acid-rich pyrolytic bio-oil for microalgae fermentation: effects of alkaline species and the detoxification mechanisms, Biomass and Bioenergy 80, 203-212.
  • Zhou, S., Brown, R. C., and Bai, X. (2015) The use of calcium hydroxide pretreatment to overcome agglomeration of technical lignin during fast pyrolysis, Green Chemistry 17, 4748-4759.
  • Kolakaluri, R., Murphy, E., Subramaniam, S., Brown, R. C., Fox, R. O., (2015) Filtration model for polydisperse aerosols in gas-solid flow using granule-resolved direct numerical simulation, AIChE J. 61, 3594-3606.
  • Gable, P., Brown, R. C. (2015) Effect of biomass heating time on bio-oil yields in a free fall fast pyrolysis reactor, Fuel 166, 361-366.
  • Choi, Y. S., Lee, K. H., Zhang, J., Brown, R. C., Shanks, B. (2015) Manipulation of chemical species in bio-oil using in situ catalytic fast pyrolysis in both a bench-scale fluidized bed pyrolyzer and micropyrolyzer, Biomass and Bioenergy 81, 256-264.
  • Li, B., Ou, L., Dang, Q., Meyer, P., Jones, S., Brown, R., and Wright, M. (2015) Techno-economic and uncertainty analysis of in situ and ex situ fast pyrolysis for biofuel production, Bioresource Technology 196, 49-56.
  • Broer, K.M., Johnston, P. A., Haag, A., Brown, R.C. (2015) Resolving inconsistencies in measurements of hydrogen cyanide in syngas, Fuel 140, 97-101.
  • del Campo, B. G., Morris, M. D., Laird, D. A., Kieffer, M. M., Brown, R. C. (2015) Optimizing production of activated carbon from fast pyrolysis char, Technology 3, 104-113.
  • Wang, K., Zhang, J., Shanks, B.H., Brown, R.C. (2015) The deleterious effect of inorganic salts on hydrocarbon yields from catalytic pyrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass and its mitigation, Applied Energy 148, 115-120.
  • Elliott, D. C., Wang, H., Whitmer, L., Rover, M., Smith, R., and Brown, R. C. (2015) Hydrocarbon liquid production via catalytic hydroprocessing of phenolic oligomers fractionated from fast pyrolysis of red oak and corn stover, ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering 3, 892-902.
  • S. Aramideh, Q. Xiong, Brown, R. C., Kong, S.-K. (2015) Numerical simulation of biomass fast pyrolysis in an auger reactor, Fuel 156, 234-242.
  • Wang, K., Ou, L., Brown, T., and Brown, R. C. (2015) Beyond ethanol: a techno-economic analysis of an integrated corn biorefinery for the production of hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals, BioFPR 9, 190-200.
  • Zhang J., Choi Y., Yoo C., Kim T., Brown R.C., Shanks B. (2015) Cellulose−hemicellulose and cellulose−lignin interactions during fast pyrolysis, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 3, 293−301.
  • Xue, Y., Zhou, S., Kelkar, A., Brown, R. C., Bai, X. (2015) Fast pyrolysis of biomass and waste plastic in a fluidized bed reactor, Fuel 156, 40-46.
  • Woolcock, P., Koziel, J., Brown, R., Johnston, P., Brown, R. C., Broer, K. (2015) Analysis of trace contaminants in hot gas streams using time-weighted average solid-phase microextraction: Pilot-scale validation, Fuel 153, 552-558.
  • Rover, M.R., Hall, P.H., Johnston, P.A., Smith, R.G., Brown, R.C. Stabilization of bio-oils using low temperature, low pressure hydrogenation (2015) Fuel 153, 224-230.
  • Kim, K. H., Bai, X. Cady, S., Gable, P., Brown, R. C. (2015) A quantitative investigation of free radicals in bio-oil and their potential role in condensed phase polymerization of cellulose- and lignin-derived pyrolysates, ChemSusChem 8, 894–900.
  • Ou, L., Thilakaratne, R., Brown, R. C. and Wright, M. M. (2015) Techno-economic analysis of transportation fuels from defatted microalgae via hydrothermal liquefaction and hydroprocessing, Biomass and Bioenergy 72, 45-54.
  • Daugaard, T., Mutti, L. A., Wright, M. W., Brown, R. C., Componation, P. (2015) Learning rates and their impacts on the optimal capacities and production costs of biorefineries, BioFPR 9, 82-94, DOI: 10.1002/bbb.1513.
  • Wang, W., Zhang, J., Shanks, B. H., Brown, R. C. (2015) Catalytic conversion of carbohydrate-derived oxygenates over HZSM-5 in a tandem micro-reactor system, Green Chemistry 17, 557-564, DOI: 10.1039/C4GC01784F.
  • Liu, G., Wright, M. W., Zhao, Q., Brown, R. C. (2015) Catalytic fast pyrolysis of duckweed: Effects of pyrolysis parameters and optimization of aromatic production, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis 112, 29-36.
  • Shen, Y., Jarboe, L., Brown, R., Wen, Z. (2015) A thermochemical-biochemical hybrid processing of lignocellulosic biomass for producing fuels and chemicals, Biotechnology Advances 33, 1799-1813.
  • Broer, K.M., Woolcock, P.J., Johnston, P. A., and Brown, R.C. (2015) Steam/oxygen gasification system for the production of clean syngas from switchgrass, Fuel 140, 282-292.

Primary Strategic Research Area

Energy Systems