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Fecha27 Jan., 12:00h - 27 Jan., 13:00h de 2015
Salón de actos del Instituto de Catálisis y Petroleoquímica
  • Joint Bioenergy Institute

Enabling the Next‐Generation of Advanced Biofuels: The Joint BioEnergy Institute

SeminaristasSeema Singh
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 in biomass into fuels 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 organization and 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 briefly discuss, examples of lignin conversion technologies being developed at JBEI and Sandia. 
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