Call for Abstracts: 38th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals

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The Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology is currently accepting abstracts for oral and poster presentations to be presented at the 38th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals (SBFC). Technical talks and posters make up the majority of presentations, however detailed and informative presentations regarding commercial- and demonstration-scale endeavors advancing and promoting the emerging bio-based economy are strongly encouraged. Presenters are asked to submit their abstracts to one of the six general research tracks listed below. The anticipated number of sessions for each track is indicated parenthetically, but may vary based on the number and quality of abstracts received in each track. Similar to recent years, each session is expected to have 7 oral presentations. Those abstracts not selected for oral presentations will automatically transferred to a poster session. Poster presentations are not expected to be limited.

Call for Abstracts – Deadline November 20, 2015

38th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals
April 25-28, 2016, Hilton Baltimore at Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD
Submit your Abstract Now

Technical abstracts for oral and/or poster presentations for the 38th SBFC are being accepted in the following research topics:

Feedstocks (3 sessions)
Renewable plant-based feedstocks are the starting materials for any biomass conversion process. This track focuses on manipulation, analysis, and the logistics of optimizing these feedstocks for subsequent conversion, whether in a constrained process or more generally. Manipulation of feedstock properties to enhance conversion, including higher enzymatic or microbial reaction rates or yields, are of particular interest. The following lists general, non-exclusive topics of interest for this track:

  • – Genetic and environmental manipulation of feedstocks for improved conversion traits
  • – New and improved analytical methodologies for characterization of feedstocks in the laboratory or in the field
  • – Comparative analyses or performance of different feedstocks in preprocessing and/or conversion processes
  • – Enhanced agricultural and land-use practices for growing and harvesting feedstocks
  • – Harvesting, processing, storage, and transportation of feedstocks


Pretreatment and Fractionation (3 sessions)
Pretreatment and fractionation encompasses a wide variety of processes for making biomass feedstocks more amenable to enzymatic or microbial conversion. Numerous methodologies exist and there are distinct advantages and drawbacks to each. Advances in technical approaches that decrease conversion costs through increasing rates and yields of products are of particular interest. Fractionation methodologies used to subdivide biomass into its major constituents (cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin) are also of high interest. The following lists general, non-exclusive topics of interest for this track:

  • – Thermal processes designed to make biomass feedstocks more amenable to subsequent enzymatic or microbial conversion to bioproducts (i.e., not direct conversion)
  • – Acid, neutral, or alkaline processes designed to render biomass feedstocks more amenable to subsequent enzymatic or microbial conversion to bio-products
  • – Mechanical, ionic liquid, gas, or other technologies designed to make biomass feedstocks more amenable to subsequent enzymatic or microbial conversion to bio-products
  • – Combinations of processes listed above
  • – Physical or chemical processes designed to separate biomass into cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and other subcomponent fractions


Enzyme Science and Technology (3 sessions)
Enzymes are central to biological generation of fuels and chemicals from renewable feedstocks, whether through deconstruction of lignocellulose, conversion of biomass-derived compounds to products, or via autotrophic carbon fixation. This multi-session track will highlight advances in enzyme discovery, characterization and kinetic analysis, performance engineering, and structure- and model-driven understanding of catalytic mechanisms. Of particular interest are studies on increased thermostability, oxidative mechanisms of biomass deconstruction, enzyme synergy in biomass conversion, and in developing robust consolidated bioprocessing-based conversion processes. The following lists general, non-exclusive topics of interest for this track:

  • – New and improved assay methods and characterization techniques for biomass depolymerizing enzymes
  • – Enzyme engineering for improved activity, thermostability, substrate utilization, and process condition tolerance
  • – Enzymatic lignin deconstruction
  • – The role of oxidative enzymes in plant cell wall deconstruction
  • – The function and application of expansins, swollenins, and accessory enzymes that facilitate cell wall disruption
  • – Enzyme synergy in biomass hydrolysis: cellulases, hemicellulases, and accessory and oxidative enzymes
  • – Enzyme modeling and structural studies to develop improved understanding of enzyme functionality, mechanisms, and structure-function relationships


Microbial Science and Technology (3 sessions)
Microbes are essential biocatalysts in both heterotrophic and autotrophic production of fuels and chemicals. Alcohols, lipids, hydrocarbons, and a wide variety of other organic compounds can be produced by microbial systems. As the opportunities to use these clean biocatalysts in the production of renewable fuels and chemicals becomes more widespread, improvements in rate, titer, conversion efficiency, and yield are needed to overcome the scale and economic obstacles to achieving an economically viable bio-based fuels and chemicals market. This multi-session track will emphasize recent research progress utilizing bacteria, fungi, and algae to overcome these fundamental obstacles. Topics of particular interest include new microbe strain discovery, progress using genetic engineering and microbial evolution approaches to enhance strain performance, as well as testing of natural or constructed consortia for improved microbial bioconversion. The following lists general, non-exclusive topics of interest for this track:

  • – New biocatalyst discovery and development for biofuels and chemicals production
  • – Improved algal production of lipids through strain and process engineering
  • – Microbe engineering for consolidated bioprocessing and alternative substrate utilization


Renewable Fuels, Chemicals, and Bio-based Products (4 sessions)
A wide variety of bio-based chemicals and advanced biofuels can be produced from biomass-derived sugars, synthesis gases, or other sustainable carbon sources. Sessions in this track will highlight advances in the development of biological and combined thermochemical-biological (or biological-thermochemical) routes to producing bio-based products from renewable feedstocks. Also of interest are studies describing progress in producing bio-based intermediates suitable for upgrading in petroleum refineries as well as in developing new chemicals and fuels products from lignin or other potential biorefining side streams. The following lists general, non-exclusive topics of interest for this track:

  • – Development of bio-based chemicals for large volume non-fuel applications, such as bioplastics, biopolymers and feedstock chemicals (i.e., precursors, intermediates)
  • – Bio-based chemicals for lower volume specialty non-fuel applications
  • – Improvements in lignocellulosic alcohol fuels (ethanol, butanol, longer chain alcohols, and beyond)
  • – Developments in triglyceride-based biodiesel production, both primary fuel and/or co-product production
  • – Novel routes to producing advanced biomass-based biofuels such as direct drop-in hydrocarbon replacements for gasoline, diesel or jet fuels
  • – Techno-economic and life-cycle analyses of bio-based fuels and chemicals products


Bioprocessing, Reactor Design, and Separations Technology
The disparity in potential market sizes between large volume biofuels and smaller volume chemical products represents a critical challenge to realizing a greatly expanded bio-based economy. Production processes for different bio-based products are limited in their ability to achieve desired scales of economy in production by the market size(s) of the product(s) they produce. Rigorous process integration and validation are needed to ensure that new processes will be economically viable. Sessions in this track will focus on improvements or innovations in unit operations and their integration and span the full gamut of process operations, i.e., from feedstock size-reduction and refining through pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis, biological conversion, and product separation. Overall plant operations, technoeconomic analysis, and life cycle assessment are also of interest. The following lists general, non-exclusive topics of interest for this track:

  • – Pilot, demonstration- and commercial-scale operation and technoeconomic assessment or performance data for biomass to bioproducts processes
  • – Individual bioprocessing-related unit operation development, performance measurement, and enhancement
  • – Integration and performance characterization and assessment of bioprocesses comprising multiple linked unit operations
  • – Novel and improved pretreatment reactor or fermentor design to facilitate economically viable commercial-scale biomass conversion
  • – New or improved processes for product separation or clean up
  • – Techno-economic and life-cycle analysis of processes and operational designs for bio-based products


Molecular Engineering, Synthetic and Systems Biology
We are introducing an exciting new regular session this year. After two years as a special topic on systems and synthetic biology, it now has its own session.

New biological systems can be created and advances in high-speed low-cost sequencing, gene fabrication, and genome editing make it feasible to rapidly generate and characterize new organisms suitable for production of fuels and chemicals. Advances in new approaches to design and understand these novel biological systems will be instrumental in creating optimal microbial systems and pathways. The following lists general, non-exclusive topics of interest for this track:

  • – Metabolic pathway editing and genome engineering to develop microbial- or plant based products
  • – Computational methods for strain design and metabolic model reconstructions and validation methods such as metabolic flux analysis
  • – Creation of novel pathways or pathway optimization through biodesign principles
  • – High-throughput systems for rapid screening for function, products and/or expression

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