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.

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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.

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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).

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Recent Presentation to ARB

Arpad Horvath, Mike Taptich, and I just wrapped up our project on drop-in biofuel production for the California Air Resources Board. Arpad and I visited Sacramento to present our findings just before the holidays. Links to the slides, final report, and abstract can be found here. The video interview can be viewed below:

New paper on using CO2 to enable consolidated biofuel production

We have published a new paper in Energy & Environmental Science on an integrated process for producing biofuels using bio-compatible ionic liquid pretreatment and reversible pH-adjustment with CO2.

Paper: http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2016/ee/c6ee00913a

LBNL press release – http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2016/07/21/co2-ionic-liquid-biofuel-pretreatment/

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Researchers at JBEI are studying the use of CO2 to streamline the production of biofuel. From left, Feng Xu, Corinne Scown, Tanmoy Dutta, Seema Singh, Jian ‘James’ Sun, Blake Simmons and Murthy Konda. (Credit: Arthur H. Panganiban/JBEI at Berkeley Lab)

Two new papers on bioenergy and water stress

My collaborators and I have published two new papers this fall.  The first is the result of a partnership between the Energy Biosciences Institute and the University of Bath, entitled “Challenge clusters facing LCA in environmental decision-making—what we can learn from biofuels”.  It is available in The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment.  The paper is open-access and available for download here.  The second paper is the result of work done at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab on spatially-explicit water impacts of carbon capture and sequestration.  It is published in Environmental Modeling and Software and available here.