EcoPartnership symposium to bring together China, U.S. scientists to address energy, environmental issues

September 16, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Nearly 150 U.S. and Chinese researchers will tackle the challenge of fueling two of the world's largest economies while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of an inaugural conference this month on the Purdue University campus.

The China-U.S. symposium, Global Sustainability Issues in Energy, Climate, Water and Environment: Prospects and Challenges of Growing the Biology-Based Economy, is set for Sept. 26-29 in Stewart Center. The research-focused event also coincides with Purdue Green Week activities.

"The symposium will help strengthen China-U.S. public and private research and development partnerships through specific joint initiatives related to growing a biology-based economy," said John Bickham, director of the Center for the Environment in Discovery Park and a Purdue professor of forestry and natural resources. "It also will generate a research, policy and economic agenda to realize this goal."

To register for the symposium, go to http://www.purdue.edu/discoverypark/sustainability/symposium/. For the complete agenda, go to http://www.purdue.edu/discoverypark/sustainability/symposium/agenda.php.

This year's conference focuses on renewable energy and products from biomass, ecological processes and management of agricultural and natural ecosystems in a bio-based economy; the environmental impacts of biofuels production; applications of systems engineering for sustainable biofuels; and policy options and a framework for developing the bio-based economy.

"As the world's dominant drivers of fossil fuel consumption and the release of greenhouse gases, the United States and China are strategically linked to the challenges of global climate change and sustainable development," Bickham said. "As a result, we share responsibility for developing realistic goals, effective strategies and practical protocols for the best solutions for global energy, climate and environmental problems."

Actor, author and environmental activist Ed Begley Jr. will deliver a Discovery Lecture Series keynote address at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall as part of the China-U.S. symposium and Purdue Green Week activities. His talk, titled "Live Simply So That Others Can Simply Live," is free and open to the public.

Other keynote addresses, also free and open to the public as part of the symposium, are scheduled in Fowler Hall. The speaker lineup, focusing on biofuels for day one and bio-based products on day two, includes:

* Wally Tyner, agricultural economics professor at Purdue, "The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Biofuels," at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 26.

* Martin Keller, associate laboratory director, Energy and Environmental Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, "From Sustainability to Next Generation Materials: An Integrated Biomass Strategy," at 9:15 a.m. Sept. 26.

* Lei Shen, Institute of Geographic Sciences & Natural Resource Research (IGSNRR) CAS, "Toward Sustainable Energy Development Strategy: Challenges and Opportunities for China," at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 26. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

* Ram Gupta, National Science Foundation program director, "NSF's Energy for Sustainability Program," at 8:40 a.m., Sept. 27.

* Joseph Kuczynski, senior scientist at IBM Corp.'s Enterprise Server Group, "Bio-based Materials for High-End Electronics Applications," at 11:15 a.m. Sept. 26.

* Barry Bruce, University of Tennessee, "Direct Solar Fuel: hν H2" at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 27.

* Nancy Ho, research professor of chemical engineering at Purdue, "An Overview of Technologies for Ethanol Production from Non-food Cellulosic Materials," at 9:15 a.m. Sept. 27 in Fowler Hall

* Jie Bao, State Key Laboratory of Bioreactor Engineering, East China University of Science and Technology, "Production of Celluosic Lastic Acid as Bioplastic Monomer and the Process Development for the Future Biorefinery Industry," at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 27.

* Jose Bravo, chief scientist of physical separations at Shell Global Solutions, "Energy Densification: Separations and Other Process Challenges in Biofuels Development," at 11:15 a.m. Sept. 27.

As part of the symposium, the National Science Foundation is sponsoring the Barriers to Sustainable Photosynthetic Production of Biofuels and Bioenergy workshop from 1:30-6 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, Room 129. A tour of the Valero Biorefinery in nearby Linden, Ind., also is planned for the morning of Sept. 29.

Event sponsors are FuturaGene, Green Tech America, National Science Foundation, Shell Oil Co. and the U.S. Department of State. Purdue sponsors include the Center for International Business Education and Research, Confucius Institute, International Programs Office, Chinese Students and Scholars Association, Global Policy Research Institute, and the Purdue Water Community.

In May the U.S. State Department and the China National Reform Development Commission selected Purdue to lead one of six U.S.-China EcoPartnerships, a five-year initiative focusing on joint research aimed at addressing the combined effects of climate change, renewable energy and human activities on regional and global ecosystems. Research teams also are exploring technologies that would aid in restoring damaged ecosystems.

The U.S. partners on the Purdue-led U.S.-China EcoPartnerships include the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment at the University of Tennessee, the UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Joint Institute for Biological Sciences and Purdue's Center for the Environment.

Since 2006 the team has collaborated with the Chinese Academy of Science as part of the China-U.S. Joint Research Center for Ecosystem and Environmental Change, which is led by the University of Tennessee. The China partners include the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, and the Institute of Applied Ecology.

"Since its inception, the China-U.S. Joint Research Center has engaged 1,000 Chinese and U.S. scientists from more than 10 institutions through international workshops, field-site visits and exchange programs for students and faculty," said event co-organizer Pankaj Sharma, managing director of the Center for the Environment.

The EcoPartnership also builds on a five-year agreement between Purdue's Center for the Environment and the Chinese Academy of Sciences called the China-U.S. Joint Research Laboratory on Sustainable Ecosystem. Through that, Purdue and the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Applied Ecology are creating programs that offer opportunities for student, scholar and faculty exchange in research and study.

Purdue's Center for the Environment, located in Discovery Park, is examining how to protect the environment while sustaining a global economy. Researchers are studying ways to model and predict the impact of activity on ecosystems, monitor environmental quality, manage natural resources and develop technologies that will help create a cleaner environment.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences is a leading academic institution and comprehensive research and development center in natural science, technological science, and high-tech innovation in China. It was founded in Beijing in 1949 on the basis of the former Academia Sinica (Central Academy of Sciences) and Peiping Academy of Sciences.

Through a $1 million gift to Discovery Park from the Lilly Endowment, Purdue launched the Discovery Lecture Series for bringing prominent speakers to campus.

During Green Week 2011, Purdue will highlight its sustainability efforts during a series of campus and community activities on the Purdue Mall, Stadium Mall and throughout Lafayette-West Lafayette. For more information, go to http://www.purdue.edu/sustainability/ 

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu 

Source: John Bickham, 765-494-5146, bickham@purdue.edu

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