Purdue's C3Bio to host U.S.-France Science and Technology workshop

September 29, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue's Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels (C3Bio) and Global Engineering Program are hosting the U.S.-France Science & Technology Workshop on Bioenergy this week, focusing on scientific breakthroughs needed to build the 21st century energy economy.

The workshop on Thursday (Oct. 1) and Friday (Oct. 2) in Discovery Park will include presentations, discussions, lectures and a research poster session as a part of the Discovery Lecture Series. All activities, which are free and open to the public, are in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, Room 121.

"We have an impressive lineup of formal talks, presentations and research posters for this bioenergy workshop that features leading researchers from France and the United States as we examine alternatives to our global energy needs," said Maureen McCann, director of the Purdue Energy Center and a professor of biological sciences. "We also will highlight what two other Energy Frontier Research Centers funded through a U.S. Department of Energy program are doing in the arena of high-risk, high-reward research to advance energy efforts using biomass."

The event will kick off at 1 p.m. Thursday with presentations from Marc Rousset, attaché for science and technology for the French Embassy in Chicago; Francoise Mauge, director of research at the CNRS National Centre for Scientific Investigation; and Frederic Monot, head of the biotechnology department at the Institut Français du Pétrole Energies Nouvelles.

Paul Gilna, director of the BioEnergy Science Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, also is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon.

From Purdue, Thursday presentations are planned by Wally Tyner, the James and Lois Ackerman professor of agricultural economics; Mike Ladisch, distinguished professor of agricultural and biological engineering; and Ian Klein, research scientist for Purdue bioenergy startup company Spero Energy.

Discovery Lecture Series talks are from 9-11 a.m. Friday for the workshop's EFRC Day. Joining McCann as featured are Daniel Cosgrove, director of the Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation and a biology professor at Pennsylvania State University; and Dion Vlachos, director of the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation and a chemical engineering professor at the University of Delaware.

Cosgrove will discuss the complex building process behind plants' cell walls, and the means by which plants use a few simple building blocks to form strong, complex, highly-structured material with versatile properties.

Vlachos will discuss the modern catalytic-based technologies that may overcome challenges of traditional methods in converting biomass to renewable fuels and chemicals. He also will discuss how enabling technologies provide insights into novel catalyst selection to facilitate these complex transformations.

McCann will speak on how chemical catalysis and fast pyrolysis can overcome limitations of biomass regarding energy density and versatility by transforming the main components of biomass from grasses and trees to liquid hydrocarbons and aromatic co-products.

In Friday's afternoon session, Laurent Fourage, program manager at TOTAL New Energies in France, and Michael Himmel, group manager of Energy Sciences at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, are scheduled to speak. Discussions covering topics such as biomass development, lignocellulosic deconstruction, and opportunities for collaborative research between the United States and France also are planned.

A poster reception beginning at 5 p.m. Friday will close the two-day event in the Birck Nanotechnology Center atrium. To present a research poster or for more information about the workshop, contact Wendy Field of C3Bio, wfield@purdue.edu, 765-494-0497.

Event sponsors are the Lilly Endowment, Purdue Energy Center, Global Engineering Program and Global Sustainability Institute. Through a $1 million gift to Discovery Park from Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, Purdue launched the lecture series in 2006 to bring prominent speakers to campus.

Based in Discovery Park, C3Bio was awarded a four-year $12 million grant in 2014 as part of a $100 million DOE initiative focused on advancing methods for converting plant lignocellulosic biomass - the bulk of the plant - to biofuels and other bio-based products currently derived from oil by the use of new chemical catalysts and thermal treatments.

In the first round of EFRCs in 2009, the Purdue-led center received a $20 million DOE grant to research how to produce biofuels that closely resemble gasoline and aviation fuel in terms of their molecular makeup and energy density.

Since their establishment by the DOE's Office of Science, the EFRCs have produced 5,400 peer-reviewed scientific publications and hundreds of inventions at various stages of the patent process. EFRC research also has benefited a number of large and small firms, including startup companies.

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

Source: Maureen McCann, 765-494-1610, mmccann@purdue.edu

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