Research group

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Research Focus

The Biofuels and Bioproducts Laboratory is interested in all aspects of the bioconversion of lignocellulosic material to biofuels and bioproducts. We work with many types of biomass, from wood waste to agricultural residues (wheat straw, sugarcane bagasse) to energy crops (Giant reed, Arundo donax). By utilizing plant biomass that is either of low value for other products or can be grown on marginal land with minimal energy inputs, we can ensure that the biofuels and bioproducts produced are sustainable both environmentally and economically.

Interested in joining us? Click here for more information on working in the lab!


News updates:

9/14/14: TAPPI PEERS and IBBC conferences in Tacoma WA. Erik Budsberg, Rodrigo Morales, Mandana Ehsanipour and Chang Dou will give oral presentations. Rick Gustafson is the keynote speaker with a talk entitled "Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest (AHB) – A multidisciplinary program to produce sustainable biofuels and bio-based chemicals from woody biomass".

9/10/14: Advanced Hardwood Biofuels (AHB) annual meeting, University of California Davis, Davis CA. Six BBL group members travelled to the meeting and reported on progress on utilizing hybrid poplar as a feedstock for biofuels.

5/5/14: BBL group members attend 36th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals in Clearwater Beach, FL

10/24/13: Erik Budsberg attends the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops in Washington DC, USA from October 12-16.

Erik gave an oral presentation: “Life Cycle Assessment for Advanced Biofuel Production from Poplar Feedstock”

9/30/13: Renata Bura and Rick Gustafson attend the 2nd Brazilian Symposium on Biorefineries in Brasilia, Brazil from Sept 24-26.

7/2/2013: Oliver Jan launches crowdsourcing project on Microryza

microryzaBBL graduate student Oliver Jan has launched a Microryza project for crowdsourcing funding on the conversion of lignin into gasoline and jet fuel. More information can be found here. Help spread the word!

6/27/2013: Renata Bura and Rick Gustafson attend the 10th Annual World Congress on Biotechnology in Montreal, Canada from June 16-19.

Rick gave two oral presentations: "Ethanologens vs. Acetogens: Comparing Environmental Impacts of Two Fermentation Pathways to Produce Bioethanol" and "Techno-Economic Analysis of Hydrocarbon Biofuels from Poplar Biomass" while Renata presented a poster entitled "Moving towards commercialization of lignocellulosic biomass to fuels and chemicals: how best to deal with heterogeneous biomass?".

6/7/2013: BBL student Chang Dou successfully defends Masters thesis

Congratulations to Chang on his thesis, entitled "Improving carbohydrate recovery from uncatalyzed steam pretreated hybrid poplar."

5/6/2013: BBL team attends 35th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals in Portland OR

At the 35th annual symposium, Renata Bura presented an oral presentation entitled: "Moving towards commercialization of lignocellulosic biomass to fuels and chemicals. How to deal with heterogeneous biomass?" while graduate student Jordan Crawford also gave an oral presentation entitled: "Techno-economic analysis of hydrocarbon biofuels from poplar biomass". Other members of the BBL team presented a total of 7 posters.

4/26/2013: Oliver Jan wins Xi Sigma Pi research grant

Xi Sigma Pi, the Forestry Honor Society founded at the University of Washington in 1908 awarded PhD student Oliver Jan (advisor Prof. Fernando Resende) the first place award for his research, entitled “A mechanistic approach towards lignin char reduction and valorization in catalytic fast pyrolysis through bifunctional Pd/ZSM-5 catalysts”. More information can be found here. Congratulations Oliver!

5/5/2012: BBL group members attend 34th Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals in New Orleans, LA

Shannon Ewanick and Renata Bura attended the 34th annual symposium where they each presented a poster. Ewanick presented "Bridging the gap: how can we reconcile optimal biomass conditions for comminution and handling with those for bioconversion?" and Bura "Revolutionary sensor to measure in the real time the progress of hydrolysis and fermentation for production of biofuels and biochemicals from lignocellulosic biomass".

9/28/2011:$40 million USDA grant announced for UW-led research

Rick Gustafson and Renata Bura

The University of Washington and Washington State University are leads for two separate grants of $40 million each that will use Pacific Northwest woody biomass to expand what’s been a Midwest-centric biofuels industry into Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana and northern California.

The five-year awards are the largest announced on Sept. 28 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Grants of between $15 million and $25 million are going to each of three other projects led by institutions in Tennessee, Louisiana and Iowa.

“These grants will help us develop our own regional industry and create jobs,” says Richard Gustafson, principal investigator of the UW-led grant and a UW professor of forest resources. “For the UW-led grant alone, a successful demonstration project over the next five years will lay the foundation to build five commercial biorefineries and cultivate 400,000 acres of poplars, resulting in 1,500 direct jobs, mostly in rural areas.”

More information

Seattle Times article