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2013 Patten Distinguished Seminar: Harvey Blanch
Start Date: 4/16/2013Start Time: 2:30 PM
End Date: 4/16/2013End Time: 3:30 PM
Event Description
LIGNOCELLULOSIC BIOMASS TO FUELS – CHALLENGES FOR TECHNOLOGY AND POLICY

Harvey W. Blanch

Merck Professor Biochemical Engineering, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

University of California – Berkeley

The development of cost-effective biological processes to transform the cellulosic content of biomass into fuels is hampered by significant roadblocks, including the lack of specifically-developed energy crops, the difficulty in separating biomass components, the cost and activity of enzymes used to deconstruct biomass, and the inhibitory effect of fuels and processing byproducts on the organisms responsible for producing fuels from biomass monomers.

Nearly forty years ago, the US faced challenges when supplies of petroleum were cut and approaches to convert lignocellulosic biomass to transportation fuels were developed.  Despite the considerable advances in technology since then, only sucrose and corn-derived ethanol have provided a route to alternative fuels. We will review the history and roadblocks, both technical and political, of biomass conversion to fuels, and describe current research approaches.

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Harvey Blanch is the Merck Professor of Biochemical Engineering at the University of California Berkeley. He received an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Sydney, and Ph.D. from the University of New South Wales, both in Sydney, Australia. He joined the Chemical Engineering department at the University of California at Berkeley in 1978, and served as Chair of Chemical Engineering  from 1997 to 2001. He is also currently the Chief Science and Technology Officer of the Joint BioEnergy Institute, one of three DOE-supported bioenergy research centers.  Dr. Blanch’s research is at the interface of biology and engineering, with applications to biotechnology, pharmaceuticals production and biofuels. He is the author of the textbook “Biochemical Engineering” that introduces engineering students to biological processing.  He is a Fellow of AAAS and a Member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Contact Information:
Name: Daniel McKinnon
Phone: 303-735-5336
Email: daniel.mckinnon@colorado.edu
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