Day 3 :
Joint Bioenergy Institute, USA
Keynote: Enabling bioeconomy and sustainability: technologies for fuels and chemical production from lignocellulose
Time : 09:00 - 09:30
Seema Singh is a biophysicist and a guest senior scientist with the JBEI Deconstruction Research Division & a director of Biomass Pretreatment. She is a distinguished member of the technical staff in Biomass Science and Conversion Technologies Department at Sandia National laboratories, CA.
Today, carbon-rich fossil fuels, primarily oil, coal and natural gas, provide 85 percent of the energy consumed in the United States. Fossil fuel use increases CO2 emissions, increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases and raising the risk of global warming. The high energy content of liquid hydrocarbon fuels makes them the preferred energy source for all modes of transportation. In the US alone, transportation consumes around 13.8 million barrels of oil per day and generates over 0.5 gigatons of carbon per year. This has spurred research into alternative, non-fossil energy sources. Among the options (nuclear, concentrated solar thermal, geothermal, hydroelectric, wind, solar and biomass), only biomass has the potential to provide a high-energy-content transportation fuel. Biomass is renewable resource that is carbon-neutral.Currently, biofuels such as ethanol are produced largely from grains, but there is a large, untapped resource (estimated at more than a billion tons per year) of plant biomass that could be utilized as a renewable, domestic source of liquid fuels. Well-established processes convert the starch content of the grain into sugars that can be fermented to ethanol. Plant-derived biomass contains cellulose, which is more difficult to convert to sugars. The development of cost-effective and energy-efficient processes to transform cellulose and lignin in biomass into fuels and chemicals is hampered by significant roadblocks, including the lack of specifically developed energy crops, the difficulty in separating biomass components, low activity of enzymes used to deconstruct biomass, and the inhibitory effect of fuels and processing byproducts on organisms responsible for producing fuels from biomass monomers.
The Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) is one of three US Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Centers that is addressing these roadblocks in biofuels production by developing the scientific and technological base needed to convert the energy stored in cellulose into transportation fuels and commodity chemicals. This talk will present a summary of the efforts at JBEI and highlight the efforts on the discovery and development of novel biomass pretreatment methods that enable the efficient conversion of biomass into next-generation biofuels. I will also discuss, examples of lignin conversion technologies being developed by my team at Sandia National Laboratories via hybrid approaches and synthetic biology.
Time : 09:30 - 10:00
Francisco García-Labiano is currently a Scientific Researcher at the Instituto de Carboquímica in Zaragoza, belonging to the Spanish National Research Council(CSIC). His research has been always close linked to environmental challenges in energy production processes. Since 2000, he has been involved in the development of the Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC), one of the most promising technologies within the area of CO2 Capture and Storage (CCS) aiming to reduce global warming. More recently he has been actively engaged in the use of renewable fuels, such as biomass, bioethanol, etc. in Chemical Looping processes (bio-CLC) with the main objective to reach negative CO2 emissions in energy processes. He is the author of more than 150 publications in international peer reviewed journals, 3 patents, etc. He has been recognized as Highly Cited Researcher by Thomson Reuters within engineering area in years 2015 and 2016.
This work presents an overview of the recent advances in bio-CLC technology within the key strategies arising nowadays to mitigate climate change. The Paris Agreement, the new treaty of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), urges to decarbonize the world energy systems in the near future in order to limit the increase in the average world temperature to 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. To reach this goal, CO2 emissions should start to decrease by 2020 and become negative by the end of the century. Among the different options, most of the low-carbon scenarios rely on the use of BECCS (Bioenergy and Carbon Capture and Storage) as mandatory technologies to reach negative emissions. In this sense, Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC) is considered one of the most promising CCS technologies for power plants and industries because its inherent CO2 capture avoids the energetic penalty present in other competing technologies. CLC process is based on the use of a solid oxygen carrier to transfer the oxygen from air to the fuel avoiding direct contact between them. The technology has undergone a great development during last 15 years including operational experience in continuous units and oxygen carrier’s manufacture. In addition, the new Chemical Looping with Oxygen Uncoupling (CLOU) process represents a qualitative step forward in solid fuel combustion due to the use of materials with capability to release oxygen. There are several renewable energy sources that can be used in chemical looping processes, including both solid and liquid fuels. The use of biomass in CLC represents important advantages compared to conventional biomass combustion. Besides CO2 negative balance, higher thermal efficiency, NOx formation reduction and lower corrosion in heat exchangers have been reported. In addition, several renewable liquid fuels, such as bioethanol can be also used both in combustion (CLC) and reforming (CLR) processes for heat/electricity and syngas/H2 production, respectively. In summary, the use of renewable fuels in chemical looping processes represents at this moment a very promising opportunity for future green energy development.
University of Guelph, Canada
Keynote: Renewable fuels and products from biomass: A hybrid thermochemical and biochemical conversion process
Time : 10:00-10:30
Animesh Dutta is an Associate Professor and Director of Bio-renewable Innovation Lab and Associate Director of graduate studies with the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph, Canada. He is specialized in advanced energy systems and thermo-fluid science with hands-on experience in reactor design and pilot plant operation, design and performance of various tests in laboratory scale and pilot scale units, thermal design and process development. His current research is focused on thermochemical conversion (gasification, combustion, torrefaction, hydrothermal carbonization and liquefaction) and characterization of agri-residue, biomass and waste (MSW, Bio-solids) for fuel and energy and design and optimization of advanced energy systems. He is committed to developing an innovative research program on energy and other value-added products from biomass and waste materials. In his career, he has published over 75 peer-reviewed journal papers, 3 book chapters and has roughly 85 conference publications and reports.
Food security, climate change and energy sustainability are three major challenges in the 21st century. Among different renewable energy sources, bioenergy is a renewable primary energy source that touches all three major issues due to its competition with food on land use, low net CO2 emissions and potentially sustainable if the economic, environmental and societal impacts are properly managed. The research at Bio-renewable Innovation Lab (BRIL) at Guelph focuses on research and development of a novel approach for the production of an array of renewable products such as energy, fuels and products from Canada’s particular range of low grade biomass sources. These sources range from woody biomass to agricultural wastes, municipal green bin collections and animal manures. This novel approach integrates thermochemical and biochemical conversion processes through a series of innovative technologies (i.e., hydrothermal pretreatment, supercritical gasification or anaerobic digestion with dry reforming, gas-to-liquid fuel through fermentation). The innovative and synergistic integration of design with processing through the above projects are expected to result in renewable fuels and value-added products. The resulting biocarbon can substitute fossil resources on a cost-performance basis with the added benefit of eco-friendliness. This could mean a tremendous reduction in greenhouse gas emission through the use of bioproduct, reducing our dependency on petroleum. The use of hydrothermal, chemical looping and supercritical gasification, anaerobic digestion, dry reforming of biogas to produce syngas and syngas fermentation techniques in the development and application of biofuels and products would lead to reduced dependency on petroleum and a sustainable economy.
Jiangsu University, China
Time : 10:40 - 11:10
Dr. Weilan Shao holds a Master degree in Plant Disease and a Ph.D. degree in Microbiology. She participated in the field of the thermophilic degradation and fermentation of lignocellulosic biomass for her PhD study (1990-1993) in the University of Georgia, USA. Dr. Shao has worked as a distinguished professor in Jiangnan University, Nanjing normal University and Jiangsu University in China. Her research mission is to develop feasible and economic effective approaches for enzyme production and renewable bioenergy processing by using molecular biotechnology. Dr. Shao and her group have discovered a series of novel lignocellulases, the key aldehyde dehydrogenase for ethanol formation, the repressor/operator system coupling glycolysis and fermentation pathways, and the regulation mechanism of thermophilic ethanol fermentation. Dr Shao also invents new techniques of gene expression system (US patent), in situ gene random mutagenesis (CN patent; US patent), novel selection marker and so on.
Ethanogenic thermophiles can conduct consolidate fermentation of cellulosic ethanol; however, their practical application has been hindered by the fact that the fermentation results in relatively low final ethanol titers. Metabolic engineering has emerged as a powerful tool for improving ethanol production, but it is very fundamental to understand why thermophilic ethanol fermentation is ended, and how ethanol productivity can be elevated via metabolic engineering. Thermoanaerobacter ethanolicus strains are able to grow at temperatures above 70oC, use xylose efficiently, and produce ethanol as main fermentation product. Therefore T. ethanolicus JW200 is taken as a model strain of thermophilic ethanogens to study ethanol fermentation pathway and its regulation mechanisms. After AdhE was identified as the main aldehyde dehydrogenase (Aldh) ,physiological roles of the key enzymes AdhA, AdhB and AdhE have been determined in T. ethanolicus. All the seenzymes are able to catalyze reversible reactions forethanol formation and consumption based on substrate concentrations. AdhB gene is transcribed at beginning of cell growth in the absence of ethanol; AdhB has weak but both Aldh and Adh activities which initiate ethanol formation. The trace ethanol produced by AdhB induces gene transcription to produce AdhA and AdhE which conduct active
formation of ethanol. Further accumulated ethanol will increase the reverse reactions for ethanol consumption and inhibit the transcription of all Aldh and Adh genes. The transcription of dehydrogenase genes is regulated by redox-sensing-protein, which binds to oprators of different affinities so that adhA, adhB and adhE are expressed at directed time. Traditionally, it is believed that low ethanol titer is resulted from lacking high ethanol tolerance in thermophilic ethanogens (>4%). However, presented results support a regulation theory: The limitation of final ethanol titer is achieved in thermophilic ethanogens by a systematic regulation through transcriptions and reversible activities of the key enzymes involved in the ethanol fermentation pathway.