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Biological Systems Engineering Bioenergy and Bioproducts

Cellulosic Revelation

Sept 2017  | BIOFUELS JOURNAL

Snippet of Biofuels Journal cover, Second Quarter 2017Researchers at Washington State University Tri-Cities and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington have discovered that newly combined spectroscopy processes can reveal the differences between the inside and the outside of the molecular structure of cellulosic biomass.

view pdf of article in Biofuels Journal]

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WSU Research Gets Closer to Cost-Effective BioFuels

June 5, 2017 | ENVIRONMENTAL MOLECULAR SCIENCES LABORATORY  [ full article ]

June 6, 2017 | PHYS.ORG [ full article ]

Molecular-level understanding of cellulose structure reveals why it resists degradation and could lead to cost-effective biofuels.

A major bottleneck hindering cost-effective production of biofuels and many valuable chemicals is the difficulty of breaking down cellulose—an important structural component of plant cell walls. A recent study addressed this problem by characterizing molecular features that make cellulose resistant to degradation.

 

 

WSU Tri-Cities team earns CleanTech Big Picture prize at UW business competition

May 26, 2017 | by Maegan Murray

WSU Tri-Cities Lignin Biotech team

RICHLAND, Wash. – A team from Washington State University Tri-Cities took home the Wells Fargo “CleanTech” Big Picture prize during the University of Washington’s Business Plan Competition this week.

With the award, the team, which includes Libing Zhang, a recent doctoral alumna, and Manuel Seubert and Taylor Pate, who are master’s in business administration students, was presented with a $5,000 check.

“We believe that we performed very well,” Zhang said. “We received extremely positive feedback regarding our business plan and presentation. Each team had a great product and were very convincing. We felt fortunate to be a part of it all.”

[ full article ]

WSU Tri-Cities team in UW business competition ‘sweet 16’

April 28, 2017   |  WSU News

RICHLAND, Wash. – A team from Washington State University Tri-Cities whose business plan is to commercialize a WSU-patented jet fuel technology has advanced to the University of Washington Business Plan Competition’s “sweet 16” round.

The sweet 16 round of the UW Business Plan Competition kicks off May 25.

full article on WSU News ]

 

Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge

April 3, 2017  |  WSU News

Manuel Seubert, master’s of business administration student, and Libing Zhang, postdoctoral researcher standing at table with presentation postersRICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities technology and a business plan for converting the plant material lignin into biojet fuel won third place among 21 teams at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge finals last week.

The team of Libing Zhang, postdoctoral researcher, and Manuel Seubert, master’s of business administration student, worked regularly with researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to prepare for the competition. They won the Starbucks $5,000 prize.

[ full article at WSU News ]

New way to characterize cellulose, advance bioproducts

MARCH 23, 2017  |  by Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Researchers at Washington State University Tri-Cities and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have found a new way to define the molecular structure of cellulose, which could lead to cheaper and more efficient ways to make a variety of crucial bioproducts.

For the first time, researchers revealed the differences between the surface layers and the crystalline core of cellulose by combining spectroscopy processes that use infrared and visible laser beams to analyze the structure of molecular components. The findings appear this month in Scientific Reports, an online open-access journal produced by the Nature Publishing Group (http://www.nature.com/articles/srep44319).

[ full article at WSU News ]

Grant funds test of market potential for jet fuel research

December 1, 2016 | WSU News, by  Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Researchers at Washington State University Tri-Cities have been awarded a National Science Foundation I-Corps grant to explore the market potential of their biojet fuel research.

The team has successfully demonstrated a new, water-based process for deconstructing and recovering lignin from biomass and converting it into jet fuel-range hydrocarbons. These could be certified as jet fuel in the future.

Bin Yang, WSU Tri-Cities associate professor of biological systems engineering and principal investigator for the grant, holds a patent on the process.

[full article in WSU News]

Student represents U.S. at sustainable chemistry school

October 4, 2016 | WSU News, by Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

zhu-leiRICHLAND, Wash. – A doctoral student at Washington State University Tri-Cities is one of 15 worldwide, and the only U.S. student, selected to participate in a recent week-long school in Germany about developing safe, reliable chemicals in a sustainable way.

“One of the biggest challenges for sustainability sciences is to find solutions that do not threaten economic growth, the environment, and public welfare,” said Lei Zhu, who studies biological systems engineering at WSU Tri-Cities. “In particular, developing countries are seemingly faced with the dilemma of economic growth versus sustainability. Sustainability Sciences is all about coming up with ways out of dilemmas.”

[read full article in WSU News ]

 

Student works to boost renewable energy in Philippines

September 28, 2016| Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

In Elmar Villota’s home country of the Philippines, as much as 15 percent of households do not have electricity. Villota, a doctoral student in biological systems engineering at Washington State University Tri-Cities, is motivated to close that gap with renewable energy.

“A simple light bulb could make a world of difference,” he said. “Without a sustainable source of electricity, students can’t have light or read comfortably at night. Imagine how much knowledge they would miss.”

[read full article in WSU News]

WSU faculty member presents at National Advance Biofuels Conference and Expo

Biodiesel Magazine, by Ron Kotrba | August 24, 2016

An in-depth review of the National Advanced Biofuels Conference

For the first time ever, the National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo was co-located with the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in 2016, a conference pairing that will become the norm for event organizer BBI International. The conferences were held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with sessions running June 21-22. NABCE included two tracks, with one focused entirely on cellulosic ethanol, and the second on biodiesel and other advanced biofuels. Track two, the focal point of this review, included presentations on biojet fuel, biogas and biodiesel.

Bin Yang with Washington State University discussed biojet fuel from lignin. He said lignin from biomass is currently used for electricity and steam production, but through a process of depolymerization and defragmentation followed by catalytic upgrading, the material is suited for jet fuel feedstock. [read full article]