New article published on current and future organic residue availability for energy

I’m excited to share our just-published article in Resources, Conservation, & Recycling entitled “Temporal and geographic drivers of biomass residues in California”. This is the deep-dive behind the bioenergy facility siting tool that will be released on the website in a matter of weeks, and there is a boatload of valuable data, especially in the SI. Special thanks to Hanna Breunig for all her hard work in leading this paper.

You can use this link to download an open-access (no subscription required) copy through October 27:


DOE Secretary’s Honor Award!

Our JBEI Pretreatment and Process Development Team won a DOE Secretary’s Honor Achievement Award! Seema Singh, Murthy Konda, Blake Simmons, Tanmoy Dutta, Aaron Socha, Jian Sun, Feng Xu, and I all get to share in the glory. Seema in particular has worked tirelessly to lead the charge on innovative new biomass pretreatment strategies and I couldn’t be prouder of her and the rest of the team. It has been a privilege to work with them. The ceremony will be held at 3pm EDT on Wednesday, August 29th in Washington, DC and can be live-streamed here.

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).


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: