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David C. Dayton

Fellow, Director, Biofuels

David Dayton, PhD, is an expert in alternative fuels that can be used to create cleaner, cost-effective sources of energy. A physical chemist, Dr. Dayton has more than 25 years of project management and research experience in R&D projects focused on biomass thermochemical conversion processes used to create cost-effective biofuels.

Dr. Dayton leads projects with the objective of developing advanced biofuels technology that has taken laboratory studies to the pilot plant scale, converting 1 ton per day of biomass—such as wood chips and switchgrass—into a petroleum replacement known as biocrude. He and his team are working to upgrade the biocrude to transportation fuel (gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel) using a process routinely used in the petroleum refining industry. The goal is to maximize carbon efficiency and reduce overall hydrogen demand. In this way, Dr. Dayton hopes to produce these bio-based fuels for less than $3 a gallon to be cost-competitive with conventional petroleum-based fuels.

Previously, Dr. Dayton was the technical leader of the Thermochemical Platform at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, where he managed biomass thermochemical conversion projects for the U.S. Department of Energy.


PhD, Physical Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; BS, Chemistry, Dickinson College.

Latest Publications

Dayton, D.C., Carpenter, J.R., Kataria, A., Peters, J.E., Barbee, D., Mante, O.D., & Gupta, R. (2015). Design and operation of a pilot-scale catalytic biomass pyrolysis unit. Green Chemistry, 17 (9):4680-4689.
Peters, J.E., Carpenter, J.R., & Dayton, D.C. (2015). Anisole and guaiacol hydrodeoxygenation reaction pathways over selected catalysts. Energy and Fuels, 29 (2):909-916.
Birur, D.K., Beach, R.H., Loomis, R.J., Gallaher, M.P., & Dayton, D.C. (July 2013). Assessing environmental externalities of transportation fuels: RTI Press Publication No. RB-0004-1306. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.
Birur, D.K., Beach, R.H., Loomis, R.J., Chipley, S., Gallaher, M.P., & Dayton, D.C. (July 2013). Externalities of transportation fuels: Assessing trade-offs between petroleum and alternatives: RTI Press Publication No. OP-0013-1307. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.
Dayton, D.C., Carpenter, J., Farmer, J., Turk, B., & Gupta, R. (2013). Biomass hydropyrolysis in a pressurized fluidized bed reactor. Energy and Fuels, 27 (7):3778-3785.
View all publications by David C. Dayton (46)


  • Biofuels
  • Thermochemical Biomass Conversion
  • Synthesis Gas Conversion
  • Biomass Pyrolysis