Topic Areas

Topic Areas 2017-11-30T18:43:46+00:00

Next-Gen Feedstocks- Breeding, Engineering, Handling

Plant-based feedstocks are starting materials for many biomass conversion or bio-based production process, however C1, syngas, and other non-biomass feedstocks are gaining increasing attention in commercial operations. This track focuses on advances in the manipulation, analysis, and collection, storage and handling logistics of biomass-based and alternative feedstocks. Engineering or selection of feedstocks to enhance thermal, chemical, enzymatic or microbial plant cell wall deconstruction reaction rates or yields are of particular interest.

The following lists non-exclusive topics of specific interest for this track:

  • Genetic and environmental manipulation of biomass feedstocks for improved conversion traits

  • Analytical methodologies for characterization of feed stocks in the laboratory or field
  • Development of captive, waste-based, and alternative feedstock conversion technologies
  • Biogas, syngas, CO2 fixation, natural gas, and other non-biomass derived feedstocks
  • Comparative analyses or evaluation of the performance different feedstocks in preprocessing and/or conversion processes
  • Geology, geographic, climate, and soil impacts on biomass recalcitrance
  • Enhanced agricultural, silvicultural and land-use practices for growing and harvesting renewable feedstocks more efficiently
  • Harvesting, storage, pre-processing and transportation of feedstocks, particular ly in supply logistics for commercial plants

Engineering Operations for Biomass Processing

A commercial biomass conversion plant encompasses a wide array of unit operations designed to make feedstocks more manageable and susceptible to conversion, as well as conversion and product recovery technologies. These operations have a huge impact on the Life Cycle and Technoeconomics of plant operations and preference will be given to abstracts addressing these aspects. Of particular interest are recent advances and novel technologies that decrease costs by increasing rates and yields of conversion products or by lowering equipment (CAPEX) and operating (OPEX) costs.

Specific areas include:

  • Mechanical, thermal, and chemical methods to fractionate plant-materials into their major constituents (cellulose, hemicellulose, starch, other polysaccharides, lignin)
  • Novel and improved unit operation (reactors, fermenters, separation) designs for economic commercial-scale bio-based production
  • Improvements in pilot, demonstration- and commercial-scale operation of integrated bio-based chemicals and/or fuels production, both technical performance characterization and improvement and economic assessment
  • Development of new or improved on-line (real time) measurement of bioprocess performance
  • Integration and performance characterization and assessment of bioprocesses comprising multiple linked unit operations
  • New or improved processes for separating or cleaning up intermediates and recovering products
  • Process designs, techno-economic assessments and life-cycle analyses of integrated bio-based production

Deconstruction, Fixation, and Bioproduct Formation

Enzymatic and chemical catalysis are central to biological production of fuels and chemicals from renewable plant-based feedstocks, whether through deconstruction of lignocellulose, conversion of biomass-derived intermediates to products, or via autotrophic carbon fixation. This Topic Area highlights enzyme and chemical catalyst discovery, chemical & physical characterization and kinetic analysis, protein engineering, and structure- and model-driven understanding of catalytic reaction mechanisms. Of particular interest are advances in improving and understanding holistic enzymatic deconstruction of biomass, the application of petrochemical-based catalytic cracking technology to biomass conversion, and chemical and thermal processes for upgrading biomass-derived compounds to higher value products.

The following lists non-exclusive topics of specific interest for this track:

  • Enzyme engineering for improved specific activity, thermostability, substrate utilization, and process condition tolerance

  • Enzymatic and chemical deconstruction and/or upgrading of lignin

  • Holistic and synergistic enzymatic deconstruction of biomass: cellulases, hemicellulases, accessory and oxidative enzymes
  • Enzyme and catalyst modeling and structural studies that improve understanding of mechanisms and structure-function relationships
  • Non-enzymatic catalysis in biomass conversion: deconstruction, conversion, and upgrading.

  • Biophysical aspects of biomass deconstruction and how they interact with biological or chemical processing

Synthetic and Systems Biology in Biomass Conversion

Microbes are essential for both heterotrophic and autotrophic production of fuels and chemicals and advances in high-speed low-cost sequencing, gene fabrication, and genome editing enable rapid generation and characterization of new and modified metabolic pathways. New understandings of consortia and microbiomes provide insights andapplications to natural biomass conversion systems. Improvements in rate, titer, conversion efficiency, and yield are sought to overcome the scale and economic obstacles to achieving economically viable bio-based fuels and chemicals production. This track will emphasize recent research advances using bacteria, fungi, and algae to improve bio-based products options and production economics. 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 non-exclusive topics of specific interest for this track:

  • Discovery and development of new and novel microbes for biofuels and chemicals production
  • Improved production of intracellular lipids in algae or oleaginous bacteria or fungi through strain and process engineering
  • Bioelectrochemical systems, microbial electrosynthesis, electrochemistry and fuel cells
    – Cell-free bioprocessing and rapid prototyping
  • Microbial H2 production in biomass conversion
  • Mining microbial consortia, microbiomes, and metagenomics for renewable conversion technologies
  • Advances in secretion of fuels, biochemical, or intermediates by algae, bacteria or fungi
    – Microbe engineering for consolidated bioprocessing and alternative substrate utilization
  • Metabolic pathway engineering and genome editing to develop microbial- or plant-based products
  • Computational methods for strain design and metabolic models, including metabolic flux analysis
  • Application of biodesign principles to create novel metabolic pathways or optimize existing metabolic pathways
  • High-throughput systems for rapid screening of function, expression and/or products

Driving the Bioeconomy

Numerous factors impact the development, implementation, and sustainability of bio-based production, i.e., the ability to profitably produce a wide range of fuels, chemicals and material products from diverse renewable feedstocks (virgin or used oils/fats, proteins, sugars, starches and cellulosics and other plant/photosynthesis-derived polysaccharides).

This track is interested in papers addressing any of the following topics that are helping to drive industry expansion of renewable feedstock-based production:

  • Success factors and failure analysis of pilot, demonstration, and commercial bio-based production

  • Improvements in the viability of conventional (“Gen 1”) production technologies

  • Progress in developing and deploying advanced conversion / production technologies (e.g., “Gen 1.5” and “Gen 2”)

  • Petrochemical plant retrofitting for coprocessing of renewable feedstocks along with petroleum (not focusing on co-feeding for biopower)
  • New technologies, both stand-alone and bolt-on, as well as biochemical-thermochemical hybrid technologies
  • Biorefinery start up/commercialization updates
  • Sustainability, TEA, and LCA-driven research, including policy and the economics of sustainability
  • Exploiting existing infrastructure to reduce CAPEX challenge, e.g., large existing petroleum refining, pulp and paper, and food/feed processing industries
  • National and international policy and sustainability impacts on the bioeconomy

  • Bio/renewable diesel, ethanol and other strategic partnerships


The production of high-value bioproducts is central to the value proposition of producing biofuels from biomass. This track will highlight exciting developments in the field focused on three major areas: performance-advantaged bioproducts, bioproducts derived from unconventional and waste feedstocks, and separations and catalysis of bio-derived intermediates.

A non-exclusive list of topics of interest for each session are listed below:

Performance-advantaged bioproducts

  • Products with improved performance over conventional petroleum-based products
  • Products utilizing the structural complexity of biomass

Bioproducts from unconventional and waste feedstocks

  • Lignin-derived bioproducts
  • Gas-derived products
  • Waste stream-derived products

Separations and catalysis of bio-derived intermediates

  • Separations and purification of bio-derived intermediates from bioreactor cultivation processes
  • Chemo-catalytic upgrading of bio-derived intermediates