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Energy and Environment Directorate

John Holladay

John Holladay

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
PO Box 999
Richland, WA 99352
(509) 375-2025


Dr. Holladay is responsible for PNNL’s $15 million per year research portfolio on biofuels, products and energy. This portfolio includes the sustainable utilization of terrestrial biomass and marine systems (micro and macro algae) to fuels and chemicals via chemical and biological catalysis. Holladay is experienced in organizing consortia of national laboratories, industry and academia, including the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium (Chief Technology Officer) and the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (Chief Operations Officer). Holladay has overseen a significant growth in the research volume at PNNL, particularly in catalyst capabilities in the Bioproducts Sciences and Engineering Laboratory and sustainability analysis as we seek to improve the science base for conversion of biomass with respect to understanding water and land use impacts. Prior to his current assignment Holladay’s research focus was in developing new catalysts and processes for conversion of a variety of biomass feedstocks to chemicals using to solve problems in the area of condensed phase heterogeneous catalysis. He also played key roles in multiple assessment activities examining top potential uses for sugars, lignin and lipids.

Research Interests

  • Biomass conversion to fuels and chemicals

Education and Credentials

  • Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, University of Wisconsin, 1994
  • B.Sc., Chemistry, Brigham Young University, 1989

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • American Chemical Society
  • American Oil Chemist's Society
  • North American Catalyst Society
  • Organic Reactions Catalyst Society

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2011: Excellence in Technology Transfer Award, Federal Laboratory Consortium, for Propylene Glycol from Renewable Sources
  • 2010: Inventor of the Year, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

PNNL Patents

PNNL Publications


  • Akhade S.A., N. Singh, O.Y. Gutierrez-Tinoco, J.A. Lopez-Ruiz, H. Wang, J.D. Holladay, and Y. Liu, et al. 2020. "Electrocatalytic Hydrogenation of Biomass-Derived Organics: A review." Chemical Reviews 120, no. 20:11370-11419. PNNL-SA-155470. doi:10.1021/acs.chemrev.0c00158
  • Andrews E.M., J.A. Lopez-Ruiz, J.D. Egbert, K. Koh, U. Sanyal, M. Song, and D. Li, et al. 2020. "Performance of base and noble metals for electrocatalytic hydrogenation of bio-oil-derived oxygenated compounds." ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 8, no. 11:4407-4418. PNNL-SA-149793. doi:10.1021/acssuschemeng.9b07041


  • Lopez-Ruiz J.A., E.M. Andrews, S.A. Akhade, M. Lee, K. Koh, U. Sanyal, and S.F. Yuk, et al. 2019. "Understanding the role of metal and molecular structure on the electrocatalytic hydrogenation of oxygenated organic compounds." ACS Catalysis 9, no. 11:9964-9972. PNNL-SA-145115. doi:10.1021/acscatal.9b02921


  • Weber R.S., and J.E. Holladay. 2018. "Modularized Production of Value-Added Products and Fuels from Distributed Waste Carbon-Rich Feedstocks." Engineering 4, no. 3:330-335. PNNL-SA-135520. doi:10.1016/j.eng.2018.05.012
  • Weber R.S., J.E. Holladay, C. Jenks, E.A. Panisko, L.J. Snowden-Swan, M. Ramirez-Corresdores, and B. Baynes, et al. 2018. "Modularized production of fuels and other value-added products from distributed, wasted, or stranded feedstocks." Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment 7, no. 6:e308. PNNL-SA-131136. doi:10.1002/wene.308


  • Lammers P., M.H. Huesemann, W. Boeing, D.B. Anderson, R.G. Arnold, X. Bai, and M. Bhole, et al. 2017. "Review of the cultivation program within the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts." Algal Research 22. PNNL-SA-129222. doi:10.1016/j.algal.2016.11.021
  • Unkefer C.J., R.T. Sayre, J.K. Magnuson, D.B. Anderson, I. Baxter, I.K. Blaby, and J.K. Brown, et al. 2017. "Review of the algal biology program within the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts." Algal Research 22. PNNL-SA-125672. doi:10.1016/j.algal.2016.06.002


  • White J.F., J.E. Holladay, A.H. Zacher, J.G. Frye, and T.A. Werpy. 2014. "Challenges in Catalytic Manufacture of Renewable Pyrrolidinones from Fermentation Derived Succinate." Topics in Catalysis 57, no. 17:1325-1334. PNNL-SA-100403. doi:10.1007/s11244-014-0299-z


  • Dagle R.A., V.M. Lebarbier, J.A. Lizarazo Adarme, D.L. King, Y. Zhu, M.J. Gray, and S.B. Jones, et al. 2013. Single-Step Syngas-to-Distillates (S2D) Synthesis via Methanol and Dimethyl Ether Intermediates: Final Report. PNNL-22984. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Single-Step Syngas-to-Distillates (S2D) Synthesis via Methanol and Dimethyl Ether Intermediates: Final Report
  • Elliott D.C., T.R. Hart, A.J. Schmidt, G.G. Neuenschwander, L.J. Rotness, M.V. Olarte, and A.H. Zacher, et al. 2013. "Process Development for Hydrothermal Liquefaction of Algae Feedstocks in a Continuous-Flow Reactor." Algal Research 2, no. 4:445-454. PNNL-SA-96121.


  • Zhao H., H.M. Brown, J.E. Holladay, and Z. Zhang. 2012. "Prominent roles of impurities in ionic liquid for catalytic conversion of carbohydrates." Topics in Catalysis 55, no. 1-2:33-37. PNNL-SA-82499. doi:10.1007/s11244-012-9772-8


  • Bu Q., H. Lei, S. Ren, L. Wang, J.E. Holladay, Q. Zhang, and J. Tang, et al. 2011. "Phenol and phenolics from lignocellulosic biomass by catalytic microwave pyrolysis." Bioresource Technology 102, no. 13:7004-7007. PNNL-SA-81908. doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2011.04.025
  • Lebarbier V.M., D. Mei, D. Kim, A. Andersen, J.L. Male, J.E. Holladay, and R.J. Rousseau, et al. 2011. "Effects of La2O3 on the mixed higher alcohols synthesis from syngas over Co catalysts: A combined theoretical and experimental study." Journal of Physical Chemistry C 115, no. 35:17440-17451. PNNL-SA-79514. doi:10.1021/jp204003q
  • Lei H., S. Ren, L. Wang, Q. Bu, J. Julson, J.E. Holladay, and R. Ruan. 2011. "Microwave pyrolysis of distillers dried grain with solubles (DDGS) for biofuel production." Bioresource Technology 102, no. 10:6208-6213. PNNL-SA-81129. doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2011.02.050


  • Xi Y., J.E. Holladay, J.G. Frye, A.A. Oberg, J.E. Jackson, and D.J. Miller. 2010. "A Kinetic and Mass Transfer Model for Glycerol Hydrogenolysis in a Trickle-Bed Reactor." Organic Process Research & Development 14, no. 6:1304-1312. PNNL-SA-77405.



  • Holladay J.E., H.M. Brown, A.M. Appel, and Z.C. Zhang. 2008. "Novel Hydride Transfer Catalysis for Carbohydrate Conversions." In Proceedings of the 22nd Conference on Catalysis of Organic Reactions, edited by ML Prunier, 123, 411-418. Boca Raton, Florida:CRC Press. PNNL-SA-58413.


  • Holladay J.E., J.F. White, J.J. Bozell, and D. Johnson. 2007. Top Value-Added Chemicals from Biomass - Volume II-Results of Screening for Potential Candidates from Biorefinery Lignin. PNNL-16983. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Top Value-Added Chemicals from Biomass - Volume II-Results of Screening for Potential Candidates from Biorefinery Lignin
  • Zhao H., J. Kwak, Y. Wang, J.A. Franz, J.M. White, and J.E. Holladay. 2007. "Interactions between cellulose and N-Methylmorpholine-N-oxide." Carbohydrate Polymers 67, no. 1:97-103. PNNL-SA-47729. doi:10.1016/j.carbpol.2006.04.019
  • Zhao H., J. Kwak, Z.C. Zhang, H.M. Brown, B.W. Arey, and J.E. Holladay. 2007. "Studying Cellulose Fiber Structure by SEM, XRD, NMR and Acid Hydrolysis." Carbohydrate Polymers 68, no. 2:235-241. PNNL-SA-48782. doi:10.1016/j.carbpol.2006.12.013
  • Zhao H., J.E. Holladay, H.M. Brown, and Z.C. Zhang. 2007. "Metal Chlorides in Ionic Liquid Solvents Convert Sugars to 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural." Science 316, no. 5831:1597-1600. PNNL-SA-52130. doi:10.1126/science.1141199
  • Zhao H., J.E. Holladay, J. Kwak, and Z.C. Zhang. 2007. "A new route to improved glucose yields in cellulose hydrolysis." Journal of Biobased Materials and Bioenergy 1, no. 2:210-214. PNNL-SA-54114.
  • Zhao H., J.E. Holladay, J. Kwak, and Z.C. Zhang. 2007. "Inverse Temperature-Dependent Pathway of Cellulose Decrystallization in Trifluoroacetic Acid." Journal of Physical Chemistry B 111, no. 19:5295-5300. PNNL-SA-50485. doi:10.1021/jp070253f


  • Werpy T.A., J.G. Frye, and J.E. Holladay. 2006. "Succinic Acid-A Model Building Block for Chemical Production from Renewable Resources." In Biorefineries - Industrial Processes and Products, edited by B Kamm, PR Gruber, and M Kamm. 367-379. Weinham:Wiley - VCH. PNNL-SA-45666.
  • Zhao H., J. Kwak, Y. Wang, J.A. Franz, J.M. White, and J.E. Holladay. 2006. "Effects of crystallinity on dilute acid hydrolysis of cellulose by cellulose ball-milling study." Energy and Fuels. PNNL-SA-46829.


  • Holladay J.E., and T.A. Werpy. 2005. "Hydrogenation of Glutamic Acid to Value Added Products." In Twentieth Conference on Catalysis of Organic Reactions 2004 : Hilton Head Island, S.C. published in Chemical Industries 104, edited by John R. Sowa, Jr., 155-164. Boca Raton, Florida:CRC Press. PNNL-SA-39805.


Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas