Plant-based feedstocks (lignocellulosics) are the starting material for many biomass conversion or bio-based production processes. The traditional feedstocks are mainly comprised of purpose-grown crops such as switchgrass or hybrid poplar, but also include directly derived secondary products such as corn stover, corn fiber, and wheat straw. More recently, considerable attention has been focused on high-volume bio-based and gaseous waste streams as potential low-cost feedstocks. C1 compounds such as methane and CO2, syngas, food waste, manure, municipal solid waste, and sewage are all potentially large sources of biomass in the Waste-to-Energy platform. Lipid production from algae, microbes and plants are also of interest. The Renewable Feedstocks topic area is focused on advances in the manipulation, analysis, and collection, storage and handling logistics of any and all of these 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.
Advances in Conversion Technologies
Conversion technologies span a wide range of processes, from pretreatment and enzyme discovery to synthetic and systems biology. The topic area also includes advances in analytical methods and major analytical facilities. 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. Likewise of interest are recent advances in bacteria, fungi, and algae to improve bio-based product options and production economics. This may include new strain discovery efforts, genetic engineering and microbial evolution to enhance strain performance, and testing of natural or constructed consortia for improved microbial bioconversion.
Driving the Bioeconomy
The worldwide bioeconomy is estimated at >$1.0 trillion/year and expected to grow significantly over the next decade. Mobilizing and valorizing the vast variety of renewable feedstocks could enable much further expansion of the current bioeconomy markets. However, to enable a thriving industrial biotechnology sector, many factors from energy and carbon intensity to scalability, industry competitiveness, time-to-market, regulatory and policy strategy, market penetration etc. must be addressed. The ‘Driving the Bioeconomy’ topic area seeks to bring together stakeholders from all sectors to discuss ongoing and future efforts in four distinct four sessions.