Tom Reed was born in
Chicago Jan 2, 1926 to Florence and Kenneth Reed. In 1939
his parents moved to Glencoe, a suburb, for better schools
and Tom attended New Trier High school starting in 1939.
In 1943 he left high school early to attend Northwestern
University before he joined the U. S. Air Force as a cadet
After discharge in 1945 he graduated
from Northwestern with a BS in Physical Chemistry in 1947.
He married Vivian Odh the same week and they left for
Texas to work for the new Shell Oil Exploration Lab in
Houston setting up the instrumentation lab. This
work convinced him there was a lot more to learn and he
returned to the University of Minnesota to get a degree in
Physical Chemistry, specializing in crystallography in
Tom went then to the
Linde division of Union Carbide and worked in the areas of
crystals and high temperature processes and chemistry, a
great "post doc" learning experience. In
1960 he took this expertise to MIT (Lincoln Laboratory)
where he was in charge of new crystal growth for 18 years.
In 1974 Tom became
concerned with the world's energy supply and wrote a
seminal article on methanol as a fuel that appeared at the
height of the "Energy Crisis" as the lead
article in the journal Science. This
article and subsequent events eventually changed his
career from Material Science to Alternate Fuels.
"cross threaded" with the MIT Energy Laboratory
(whose policy was based only primarily on developing more
fossil fuels), Tom left MIT in 1977 to join the newly
formed Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI) in Golden,
CO. There he designed and built a high pressure
oxygen gasifier for biomass which in 1987 was scaled to 75
tons/day (by Syn-Gas, Inc.). Unfortunately this was
at the peak of the oil glut and the gasifier did not
In 1985 Tom moved from
SERI to the Colorado School of Mines to continue his
biomass research there with more "elbow room".
In 1994 he inherited the Biomass Energy Foundation which,
along with his pensions, gives him more financial
flexibility. He is now writing the "Survey of Biomass
Gasification" for the National Renewable Energy
Tom Reed now
lives in Golden with his wife, Vivian where they manage
the BEF, the research and the grandchildren. He has
four professional children and seven grandchildren. Other
current interests as time permits include music (piano,
flute and choir), history, bridge, tennis and racquetball
Dr. Tom Reed's Research
Dr Tom Reed is a Physical Chemist (PhD, U. Minn.) and
loves research, (as well as engineering, teaching, and
inventing). He has a small laboratory where he can perform
experiments on biomass pyrolysis, gasification and stoves.
- Engineer - Inventor
Home office - 1810 Smith Rd.,
Golden, CO 80401; E-mail TomBReed@comcast.net,
efax 303 265 9184.
- Operation of BEF
- Research in Biomass Thermal
- Consulting with CPC
BS Northwestern University, Physical Chemistry, -
1947; PhD University of Minnesota, Physical
Chemistry - 1952
Expertise: Alternate fuels; Biomass
Gasification, Biomass energy and economics; High
temperature techniques; Solid State Materials;
Experience: 1986 to 2000
Research Professor, Dept. Of Chemical Engineering,
Colorado School of Mines
1977-1986 Principal Scientist,
Thermochemical Research Branch, Solar Fuels and Chemicals
Division of the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI, now
- Designed and tested high pressure
- Developed "predictive
model" of downdraft gasifier
- Made first synthetic methanol
- Definition of biomass research
programs at SERI
engineering thermodynamics, CSM
1960-1975 Massachusetts Institute
of Technology - Research Scientist
- Taught thermodynamics in
Materials Science Dept.
- Director of Methanol Division,
MIT Energy Laboratory
- Resident crystal growth expert,
development of new semiconductors and superconductors
1952-1959 Linde Division of Union
Carbide - Research Scientist
- Development of plasma devices
- First synthetic (A) zeolite
- Chemical processing
- Synthetic diamond
1947-1948 Shell Oil Company,
- Installed instrumentation
for oil and mineral research in new laboratory
1944-1945 United States Air Force
- President - Biomass
Energy Foundation - Current
- Director - Synthetic
Fuel Research Center, 1975-78
- Director - Methanol Fuel
Division, MIT Energy Lab, 1974-75
- Member - NSF Committee
on Renewable Resources
- Member - Battelle Sugar
Plant Energy Study
- Member - Producer Gas
Roundtable, Royal Institute, Sweden
- Member - AAAS, ACS
- Senior Research Fellow,
Department of Inorganic Chemistry, Oxford University,
- 1982 R&D100 award for oxygen
gasifier as invention of the year
- 1993 R&D award for Sea Sweep
oil absorbent as invention of the year
- Founder and Director of
Research for Sea Sweep, Inc. A new oil spill
absorbent, current business $180,000/yr
- President Environmental
Energy Alternatives, Inc., manufacturers of biodiesel
from waste vegetable oil
- Partner in New Harbors,
Inc. New consumer products
- President, Biomass
Energy Foundation, a not for profit 501(c)3 org.
and Publications (See below
- Atlas of Thermal Properties of
Biomass and Other Fuels, (Dekker, Spring 1998)
- "Handbook of Biomass
Downdraft Gasifier Engine Systems", the BEF PRESS
- "Gen Gas", (Editor),
the BEF PRESS
- "Biomass Gasification
Principles and Technology", (Editor) Noyes Press,
- Free Energy of Formation of
Binary Compounds, MIT Press, 1971, republished by the
- "Thermal Properties of
Biomass and Other Fuels", S. Gaur and T. Reed
1998, Springer Verlag
- "Survey of Biomass
Gasification-2001", for the National Renewable
Energy Laboratory (NREL), published by the BEF PRESS
Over 150 papers in the field of biomass, synthetic fuels
and materials research. List available on request (see
Patents: Patents: Twelve in the fields of biomass,
material science and high temperature technology (see
In 1972 Tom Reed became concerned
about the energy and fuel futures of the U.S. and began
working on alternate fuels on the side while working at
MIT in the field of solid state research. He was the first
person to use alcohol blends during this period and when
he wrote "Methanol - A Clean Fuel for the 21st
century", for Science magazine, it changed his
career. In this article he said that for the short term
methanol would be made from natural gas, but in the long
term biomass could supply our needs forever.
He continued to work on methanol and
biomass at MIT until 1977, but MIT has many associations
with large business that makes it an unlikely place for
developing alternative energy sources. In 1977 Tom Reed
moved to the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI, now
NREL) in Golden, Colorado to work on alternate fuels from
biomass. Much of his time was occupied in developing a
high pressure, oxygen gasifier for making synthesis gas
for methanol, but he also wrote several books on
gasification and biomass. SERI started with high hopes for
effective energy research, but during the Reagan -
oil-glut years there was not much funding for such
In 1986 Tom Reed took a position as
research professor at the Colorado School of Mines in the
department of Chemical Engineering where he now pursues
work on various aspects of biomass and gasification at his
own pace and direction. In particular, he traveled to
India for FAO in 1990 and evaluated conversion of
agricultural wastes to fuels and in 1992 he traveled to
China for the Rockefeller Foundation to evaluate two new
gasifiers built there. In 1996 he travelled around
the world, visiting various gasification sites, gathering
information for the book "Survey of Biomass
Tom Reed has recently become the
president of the Biomass Energy Foundation, a 501 (c) 3
organization dedicated to research, inventions and
education in the field of biomass energy. The foundation
operates a small Press which keeps important books in this
Books and Book Chapters
Energy of Formation of Binary Compounds" (MIT Press,
Cambridge, MA 1972). Available from
the Biomass Energy Foundation Press:
The Swedish Classic On Wood Fueled Vehicles", English
translation, (SERI-1982), edited T.Reed, D. Jantzen and A.
Das, with index. This is the "Old Testament" of
gasification, written by the people involved in
successfully converting 90% of transportation of WW II
Sweden to wood gasifiers. Valuable practical and
Study and Scaleup of the Air-oxygen Stratified Downdraft
Gasifier", T. Reed, M. Graboski and B. Levie
To Methanol Specialists' Workshop", Ed. T. B. Reed
and M. Graboski. Expert articles on biomass to methanol,
the clean liquid fuel for the 21st Century
Gasification: Principles and Technology", Energy
Technology Review No. 67, Noyes Data Corporation, Park
Ridge, N.J., 1981. ISBN 0-8155-0852-2.
of Thermal Properties of Biomass and Other Fuels,"
with S. Gaur in press.
of Biomass Downdraft Gasifier Engine Systems", SERI,
Gas", T. B. Reed (Editor), TIPI Press, 1983
Gasification Principles and Technology", (Editor)
Noyes Press, 1981
Journal Articles and Speeches
A Versatile Fuel for Immediate Use", T. B. Reed and
R. M. Lerner, Science 182, 1299 (1973).
Performance of Internal Combustion Engines Using a 5-15%
Methanol in Gasoline", T. B. Reed et al., Paper
7491104, IECEC Conference, Aug. 1974, p. 952 in
and Methods for Methanol Production", T. B. Reed and
R. M. Lerner, Theme Hydrogen Conference, Miami Beach, Mar
of Methanol and Methanol Blends", T. B. Reed, Dir.,
Methanol Div., MIT Energy Lab, Cambridge, Ma., 1974.
and Production of Methanol as a Synthetic Fuel", T.
B. Reed, MIT Energy Lab., ACS publication.
for Fuel", Bibliography on the production and Use of
Alcohol Fuels to 1974.
Energy Refineries for Production of Fuel and
Fertilizer", T.B. Reed, Applied Polymer Symposium,
No. 28, 1-9 (1975).
Use of Alcohols and Other Synthetic Fuels in Europe from
1930-1950", T. B. Reed, AIChE, Boston Mass., Sept.
of Methanol Production from Gas, Coal, Waste or
Wood", T. B. Reed, Paper in Net Energetics of
Integrated Synfuel Systems, Symposium, April 4-9, 1976,
N.Y., Paper in ACS Fuel Division Publications.
the Oil Runs Out- A Survey of our Primary Energy Sources
and the Fuels We Can Make from Them", in Capturing
the Sun Through Bioconversion, March 10, Washington, D. C.
(Also presented at the Swedish International Methanol
Conference, the Swedish Royal Academy of Engineering.)
at MIT: Industry Influence Charged in Project
Cancellation", A. L. Hammond, Science 190, 761
Production and Use of Alcohols as Fuels", T. B. Reed,
Paper No. 21 in ACS Symposium Shaping the Future of the
Rubber Industry, San Francisco, Ca, Oct. 5, 1976
Potential Impact of Widespread Use of Wood and
Alcohols", T. B. Reed, in Symposium Alcohols as
Alternative Fuels, Ontario, Toronto, Canada, Nov. 19, 1976
Electrochemical Power Cycle", MIT ?
and Answers on Alcohol and Gasohol Fuels", T. B.
Reed, testimony before the Senate Appropriation Committee,
Jan, 31, 1978.
and Economics of Densified Biomass Fuel (DBF)
Production", T. B. Reed and B. Bryant, AIChE
symposium, Feb. 26, 1978.
Biomass: A New Form of Solid Fuel", T. B. Reed and B.
Bryant, SERI-35, U. S. DOE Contract EG-77-C-01-4042.
and Prospects of Biomass Energy Research", T. B.
Reed, Paper at American Physical Society Annual Meeting,
Mar 29 1978, Washington, D. C.
a Biomass Energy Program for SERI and the Nation", T.
B. Reed, the Wood Energy Institute Seminar, Madison, WI,
Apr 4, 1978.
Pyrolysis Kinetics of Pelletized Wood Wastes", T. B.
Reed and M. J. Antal, Jr., Princeton University, in ACS
Symposium Advances in Synthetic Fuels, Div. of Petroleum
Chemistry, Sept; 10, 1978.
Energy Paths", T. B. Reed, the Mid-South Biomass
Energy Workshop on Regional R&D Needs., Jul 6, 1978,
Little Rock, AR.
Energy - A Two Edged Sword", T. B. Reed, the
International Solar Energy Society, Denver, CO Aug 28,
and Economics of Close-Coupled Gasifiers for Retrofitting
Gas/Oil Combustion Units to Biomass Feedstock", T. B.
Reed, D. E Jantzen, W. P. Corcoran and R. Witholder, SERI,
in REACT 78, the Biomass Energy Institute, Winnipeg,
Canada, Oct. 2, 1978.
Improvements in Alcohol Production and Use", T. B.
Reed and W. S. Hedrick, the Regional Energy Conference,
Joint Educational Consortium, Mar 1980.
Densification Energy Requirements", T. B. Reed, G.
Trezek and L. Diaz, (?).
in Heat Transfer Requirements and Mechanisms for Fast
Pyrolysis", T. B. Reed, J. P. Diebold and R.
Desrosiers in Specialists� Workshop on the Fast
Pyrolysis of Biomass, Copper Mt, CO Oct. 19, 1980.
Combustion, Pyrolysis, Gasification and Liquefaction of
Biomass", T. B. Reed, in Energy from Biomass,
Brighton England, Nov. 4, 1980.
Gasification for Production of Gaseous and Liquid
Fuels", T. B. Reed, T. Milne, J. Diebold, R.
Desrosiers in Third Symposium on Biotechnology in Energy
Production, Gatlinburg, TN, May 12, 1981.
Production of Methanol from Biomass", T. B. Reed,
Testimony before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power on
Interstate and Foreign Commerce, U. S. House of
Representatives, Dec. 18, 1980.
Status of Gasification/Pyrolysis Processes in the United
States", T. B. Reed, in Industrial Wood Energy
Forum�82, Washington, D. C., 8 Mar, 1982.
Gas from Biomass: Operating Data on a 1-Ton/Day Oxygen
Gasifier", T. B. Reed, M. Graboski and Mike Markson,
in 13th Thermochemical Conversion Contractors
Meeting", Arlington, BA, 27 Oct., 1981.
Production for Biomass Gasification", in Biomass To
Methanol Specialists' Workshop, Ed. T. B. Reed and M.
SERI High Pressure Oxygen Gasifier", in Ibid.
Gasification: Fueling and Feeding the Third
Millennium", T. B. Reed, the SERI Research Lecture
Series, Nov. 17, 1982.
Scientific Basis of Gasifier Design", T. B. Reed at
CSIR Conference, Forest Products Research International,
Praetoria, S. A., April 22, 1983.
Gasification for Power, Fuels and Chemicals", T. B.
Reed, B. Levie and A. Das in Fifth Canadian Bioenergy
R&D Seminar, S. Hasnain, Ed., London, Elsevier, 48,,
of Downdraft Gasificaiton for MSW Conversion", T. B.
Reed at Energy from Municipal Waste Research Workshop,
Kissimee, Fl., Feb 22, 1984
Predictive Model for Stratified Downdraft Gasification of
Biomass", in (?).
Mathematical Model for Stratified Downdraft Gasifiers",
T. B. Reed, B. Levie and M. L. Markson, in (?)
Gasification Reaction Velocities", T. B. Reed and M.
Markson, in (?)
of Carbon Saturation in Thermal Conversion
Processes", T. B. Reed in 15th Thermochemical
Conversion Contractors Meeting", Arlington, BA, 27
Oct., 1985 (?).
of Producing Polymers from Current and Alternate
Feedstocks", at Polymer Materials Professional
Development Workshop, U. S. Bureau of Mines, Dec. 5, 1988.
Production from Biomass and Municipal Waste" Process
Design and Economics", T. B. Reed, and M.S. Graboski,
As a practicing scientist I was asked to present a lot of
papers. Often the papers were published 1-4 years later.
Maybe I received a copy of the publication and maybe not.
Many of the above references are not attached to the final
publication, but the "?" could be filled in with
Material Science Papers
papers in Material Science, written during the period
1952-1978 at Union Carbide and MIT, available on request .
Patents and Processes
Non-Transferred Arc Torch Process and Apparatus.
Constricted Arc Apparatus and Process.
Arc Torch Push Starting.
Multiple Purpose Arc Torch Apparatus.
Supersonic Hot Gas Stream Generating Apparatus and
Induction Plasma Torch with Means for Recirculating
High Temperature Furnace.
Method and Structure for Growing Crystals.
High Temperature Insulating Container. (With W. King).
Composition of Matter and Method of Making.
Note: Patents are only legal documents and do not
necessarily indicate an important contribution. The
following processes are now operating commercially using
the above patents or modifications thereof:
Jet Cutting (>20 companies)
Plasma Torch Processes and Production
Plasma Spectral Analysis Equipment (Thousands)
High Temperature Furnace
Furnace (Trans Temp Corp., Boston.)
Sweep, production of 300 tons, 1992-1997.
Vivian Odh Reed is my everloving wife and helpmate. We
celebrated our 50th anniversary in 1997. Although we
don't agree on all subjects, we agree enough to have
raised 4 children and working on 7 grandchildren. We
look forward to continuing together in good health for
many more years.
Vivian was born in Winnetka Illinois, a suburb of
Chicago. We knew each other well in high school and
eventually graduated from Northwestern University together
and got married the same week in June 1947. She has
been at various times a primary school and preschool
teacher and she teaches all of us by example. I
would post a picture but she is shy...
Her life has been primarily her family. She may
be the "iron hand in the velvet glove", but if
so she doesn't let me know it.