Blake Simmons is the Senior Manager of BioFuels and Biomaterials Science and Technology at Sandia National Laboratory. A chemical engineer by training, his expertise includes biofuel cells, nanophotonic materials, microfluidics, nanofluidics, desalination, biomineralization and enzyme engineering. Most recently, he has been studying enzymes isolated from extremophile organisms that could be applied to the deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass into biofuel material.
Simmons grew up in Blair, Nebraska, and joined the U.S. Navy in 1988 after graduating from high school. After serving as a nuclear propulsion operator for 6 years, he received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington in 1997 and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Tulane University in 2001. He joined Sandia National Laboratories in 2001 as a Senior Member of the Technical Staff, was promoted to Principal Member of the Technical Staff in 2005, and has been the manager of the Energy Systems Department at Sandia National Laboratories since 2006. A chemical engineer by training, his expertise includes nanomaterials, biofuel cells, microfluidics, nanofluidics, desalination, biomineralization, algal biofuels, lignocellulosic biofuels, and enzyme engineering.
Most recently, he has been studying enzymes isolated from extremophiles for the enhanced hydrolysis of polysachharides into sugars, as well as novel means of pretreating biomass feedstocks with ionic liquids. He is also a member of the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a $134M, five-year DOE OBER facility located in Emeryville, CA. JBEI is focused on breaking the barriers to next-generation lignocellulosic biofuels. Blake is the Vice-President of the Deconstruction Division at JBEI, and his team is working on novel hydrolytic enzymes and biomass pretreatments to liberate sugar from lignocellulosic biomass. He has over sixty publications, as well as fourteen patents and patent applications.