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Argonne National Lab

About Argonne National Laboratory

At Argonne National Laboratory, world-class scientists and engineers work alongside experts from industry and academia to address vital national challenges in clean energy, the environment, health, and national security. Energy efficiency programs include the development of higher-performance batteries, fuel cells, advanced vehicle engines, alternative fuels, smart electrical grids, and more efficient manufacturing and industrial technologies. Argonne has 3,350 total employees, a yearly budget of $722 million, and hosts more than 6,500 researchers every year at its six national User Facilities.


Argonne's bioenergy research covers feedstock production, biomass conversion, and cross-cutting research to examine biofuel sustainability with regards to energy consumption, greenhouse-gas emissions, and water impacts. Taken together, this research aims to reduce costs and improve sustainability in the biofuel supply chain.

Unique Capabilities:

Argonne's catalyst design and discovery research explores catalyst performance, activity, and deactivation and informs the design of catalysts for bioprocesses that are robust and economical. Unique facilities at Argonne include the Advanced Photon Source and state-of-the art high-throughput testing equipment. Additional capabilities include catalytic process modeling and novel catalyst preparation and modification techniques such as atomic layer deposition.

Argonne separations research develops and applies advanced membrane and bioprocessing technologies. Innovative technologies developed and demonstrated at Argonne include hydrocyclone separations, magnetic nanoparticles, separative bioreactors, and electrodeionization. Argonne researchers have also developed pervaporation to separate ethanol and water, liquid-liquid extraction, and pulsating flow microfiltration.

Argonne researchers have tapped anaerobic digestion (AD) to produce pipeline-quality biogas from waste streams, economically recovering energy from this negative value feedstock. Argonne continues to examine AD as a technology that can produce precursors to liquid hydrocarbon biofuels.

Argonne's research in the area of biofuel sustainability is well-recognized. Argonne develops the widely-used Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation (GREET) model, which calculates life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of biofuels and many other conventional and alternative fuels. The WATER model examines water consumption associated with biofuel production. Furthermore, sustainable landscape design research engages farmers in new techniques to integrate bioenergy production with conventional agriculture.


User Facilities:

Argonne is home to the Advanced Photon Source.

Equipment and Instruments:

For membrane testing: Exploratory, bench and pilot-scale sized equipment (1 gal/day to over 3,000 gals/day) that can evaluate innovative membrane technologies for gas-liquid, liquid and solid-liquid separations with pressure-based, electric, and phase transformation driving forces.

For membrane characterization: In-situ monitoring devices that instantaneously measure membrane performance (pressure perturbation profile of the filtration membrane surface, ion transport rate on ion-exchange membranes).

For fabricating nano-structured materials for membranes: A scalable, integrated electrospinning-IR-heating and pneumatic collection system that produces high-quality, magnetic nanofibers for nanotube-based separation.

For high-throughput catalyst testing: Highly-automated equipment for rapidly exploring a broad compositional and operating parameter space that greatly lessens the time required for catalyst development by conducting catalyst synthesis, characterization, and evaluation in a highly parallel manner. Includes a number characterization techniques including X-ray diffraction all designed for throughput experimentation.

For catalyst characterization: Two beamlines at the Advanced Photon Source are equipped for conducting catalyst studies under real-world process conditions with reactor systems that can be inserted into the beam line.

For preparing catalysts with atomic layer deposition (ALD): An ALD kg-scale power coating unit, two bench-scale, custom catalyst testing systems for gas-phase and high-pressure liquid phase testing equipped with GC and GC-MS analysis.