Welcome to LBNL, Jay Devkota, Tyler Huntington, & Minliang Yang!

I’m excited to welcome three new members of my group: Jay Devkota, Tyler Huntington, and Minliang Yang. They have all joined this summer. Jay is an LCA expert working on two CEC waste-to-energy projects and both Tyler and Minliang are down at JBEI in LEAD, doing LCA and geospatial modeling.

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Jay Devkota

Tyler Huntington


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Minliang Yang


New ES&T paper on building stock turnover in California

My superstar colleagues (special shout-out to Hanna Breunig and Tyler Huntington) wrote an awesome parcel-level model for California that simulates the turnover of the building stock in California. The paper was just published in ES&T.

An excerpt from the abstract: “While the 2020 targets for the reduction of GHG emissions set by the California Senate Bill 350 have already been met, none of our scenarios achieve >80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050, despite assuming an 86% reduction in electricity carbon intensity in our “Low Carbon” scenario. The results highlight the challenge California faces in meeting its new energy efficiency targets unless the State’s building stock undergoes timely and strategic turnover, paired with deep retrofitting of existing buildings and natural gas equipment.”


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Great talk on soil sustainability by JBEI LEAD scientist, Umakant Mishra for Argonne OutLoud

I learned years ago that the impact of bioenergy crops on soil carbon and nitrogen cycling can make or break the greenhouse gas footprint. In fact, Umakant was the one who taught me this. Years later, it’s a thrill to bring him on to the LEAD team at JBEI, where his team be studying the impact of engineered traits on bioenergy crop yield and soils.

Check out his recent talk for Argonne OutLoud on soil science here.

JBEI is hiring!

We are looking for a technoeconomic analysis postdoc with an interest and background in bioenergy/bioproducts to join the Life-cycle, Economics, and Agronomy Division (LEAD) at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). Experience with SuperPro Designer and/or AspenPlus is ideal. The appointment will be through Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and the work location will be our satellite site in Emeryville, CA. Start date is ASAP. We will review applications on a rolling basis. Apply by November 9th for full consideration. See the job posting here.

Using ionic liquids for biomass pretreatment has gotten much cheaper and less carbon-intensive

We have a new paper out in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering on the life-cycle greenhouse gas and water-intensity of producing cellulosic ethanol using ionic liquids for biomass pretreatment. This technology has come a long, long way in the past few years, in no small part because of the work done by Seema Singh and her group. By using ILs that are compatible with enzymes used during saccharification, biorefineries can now use a “one pot” deconstruction approach. This means far less water used to wash the ILs out of the pretreated biomass, and consequently, far less energy required to recover all of the (fairly expensive) ILs. We put together a life-cycle GHG and water use inventory, led by Binod Neupane and Murthy Konda, and found that recent developments put IL-based biorefineries on the same footing as the well-known dilute acid route. Great job, Binod and Murthy! The paper can be accessed here.


ES&T Paper on Food Waste-to-Energy Available Online

Our new paper (Breunig et al. 2017), published in Environmental Science & Technology, focuses on the electricity generation potential from utilizing food waste in California. Our findings reveal that a substantial fraction of food waste can be co-digested at existing wastewater treatment facilities. We also show that the availability of high-moisture residues varies dramatically month-to-month, and because multi-month storage of high-moisture solids is potentially challenging, seasonality is a key factor for determining bioenergy generation potential. It is available as a “Just Accepted” manuscript as of yesterday and can be found here. This work was funded by the California Energy Commission (CEC) Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC).