Bio-based Resources

A game changer in biofuel production

No carbon left behind. This core mission in Discovery Park’s Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels (C3Bio) has not changed since its inception in 2009. With a new, $12 million, four-year grant, the center is progressing with game-changing ways of making biofuel production more energy-efficient. Plant bodies trap carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide into components of cell walls, a type of chemical storage process. The C3Bio team, led by Maureen McCann, professor of biological sciences and director of the Purdue Energy Center, is harnessing the power of chemical catalysis to transform cell wall molecules into liquid hydrocarbon fuels such as those of gasoline or aviation fuel. Team members are working on new catalytic conversions that deal with the complexity of the biomass substrates. Moving forward, they aim to translate their basic research into products for the marketplace. McCann hopes to see many more startups using C3Bio-derived technology, such as Spero Energy, a West Lafayette, Ind., startup is doing. “It’s important that we think about how to get a portfolio of fuels and high-value chemicals from biomass,” she says. “We need to think about the integrated bio-refinery, what are the most energy-efficient routes to desired products, what is the life-cycle analysis, what are the most carbon-efficient pathways to the portfolio, because biomass carbon is abundant, but every single carbon atom in it is very precious to us.”

- Sarah Anderson

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2017 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Discovery Park

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact Discovery Park at