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Pacific Northwest National Lab

About Pacific Northwest National Lab

PNNL is focused on DOE's missions in science, energy, environment, and national security. PNNL researchers routinely integrate across fundamental science and applied technology programs, engaging partners across the country to take on big challenges. These efforts also deliver significant economic contributions to Washington State, the Northwest region and the nation. The dedication of our people to push the frontiers of science and engineering in order to solve some of the nation's greatest challenges is a hallmark of PNNL's 50 year history.


Advancements in bioproducts science and technology are resulting in new opportunities for grower associations, commodity processors, biofuel chemical companies, and federal agencies interested in the environmental and economic benefits of renewable resources for the production of high-value industrial and consumer products.

For nearly 30 years, the hallmark of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's bioproducts research has been the development and application of novel thermal, chemical, and biological processes to convert biomass to industrial and consumer products, fuels, and energy. PNNL's patented catalytic processes convert sugars and acids to much higher value commodity and specialty chemicals.

Additionally, PNNL's advanced modeling and computational tools provide new insights into catalyst design, proteomics, engineering process economics, greenhouse gas impacts, and high fidelity logistics/siting. PNNL works with private industry and government to rapidly translate scientific discoveries into deployable technologies that are beneficial to this nation and will reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil and gas supplies.

Our expertise, techniques, and equipment can be categorized into five main areas.

PNNL is home to the Institute for Integrated Catalysis as well as the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) User Facility, operated by the Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy.


PNNL's advanced bio-based fuels and products research is due in large part to the distinctive equipment and facilities at the Laboratory. These resources are found within the Process Sciences and Engineering Division.

PNNL's laboratories offer advanced chemical analytical equipment and chemical and biochemical reactor systems.

  • The Physical Sciences Laboratory houses 22 labs for conducting a wide range of research, including catalyst formulation, chemical analysis, laboratory-scale reaction engineering, and biochemical process development, as well as environmental characterization and risk assessment.
  • The Chemical Engineering Laboratory contains high-pressure reactor systems for chemical process development typically involving catalysts and hydrogen.
  • The Chemical Process Development Laboratory also contains high-pressure chemical reactor systems, which operate on a larger scale.
  • The Process Development Laboratory-East is a high-bay pilot plant facility including biomass processing, supercritical fluid processing and high-pressure chemical processing systems.
  • The Mobile Process Engineering and Demonstration Unit is a trailer mounted chemical processing system for onsite industrial process testing. It is a fully-instrumented high-pressure system with heat recovery and minimal setup requirement.
  • The Environmental and Molecular Science Laboratory is a large multipurpose laboratory building containing state-of-the-art chemical analytical equipment, which is used in support of the bio-based Products Research at PNNL.
  • The Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory will be a 57,000 gross square foot multipurpose facility and home for PNNL Bio-Based Product Research, including high throughput catalysis development and fungal biotechnology. It will allow the many capabilities at the Lab to be brought together at one site.
Photo of a scientist in a lab coat pouring powder into a funnel.
Photo of a scientist in a lab coat adjusting lab equipment.
Photo of a gloved hand pouring dark liquid into a measuring cup.