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Highlight Seminar: Lee Rybeck Lynd, Dartmouth College

Highlight Seminar: Lee Rybeck Lynd, Dartmouth College

Date: October 24, 2016

Time: 4:00 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.

Location: Maeder Hall

Lee Rybeck Lynd, professor at Dartmouth College, will speak on the topic of “Low Cost Cellulosic Biofuels: New Questions and New Answers” as part of the 2016-2017 Highlight Seminar series at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.



Today’s technology for producing cellulosic biofuels was not yet cost competitive at $100/barrel much less recent oil prices.  Yet strong evidence will be presented that cellulosic biofuels are likely needed in order to achieve a low-carbon economy.  There is thus ample incentive to look for new routes to process cellulosic biomass at low cost – and in particular to look beyond the thermochemical pretreatment /fungal cellulase paradigm.

Recent data will be presented indicating that anaerobic thermophilic bacteria are decisively more effective than industry-standard fungal cellulase at solubilizing cellulosic biomass under a broad range of conditions.  However even the best plant cell wall-solubilizing biocatalysts require some assistance in order for lignocellulose to be processed with high yields in a reasonable amount of time.   As an alternative to thermochemical pretreatment, we are investigating physical disruption once fermentation is initiated – termed cotreatment.  First-of-a-kind data and analysis will be presented including: a) fermentation in the presence of physical disruption at an intensity sufficient to substantially increase lignocellulose solubilization, b) high extents of solubilization comparable to conventional pretreatment, and c) potential for low energy requirements.

Taking advantage of the outstanding capability of thermophilic anaerobic bacteria to ferment cellulosic biomass without added enzymes requires that metabolic engineering tools be developed and applied to these organisms in order to bring product yields and titers to industrially acceptable levels.   The feasibility of consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) will be considered, and recent progress will be described involving the cellulose fermenting Clostridium thermocellum and the hemicellulose utilizing Thermoanaerobacterium saccharolyticum.  Perspectives will be offered on the general approach of biotechnology based on host organisms with phenotypes that are too hard to move, exemplified by CBP using naturally cellulolytic microbes.

Lee Rybeck Lynd is the Paul and Joan Queneau Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Adjunct Professor of Biology at Dartmouth College, Focus Area Leader for Biomass Deconstruction and Conversion at the US Department of Energy Bioenergy Science Center, Executive Committee Chairman of the Global Sustainable Bioenergy Project, and Co-Founder and Director of Enchi Corporation and formerly Mascoma Corporation.  He is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, and recipient of the Lemelson-MIT Sustainability Prize for inventions and innovations that enhance economic opportunity and community well-being while protecting and restoring the natural environment, the Charles D. Scott award for distinguished contributions to the field of biotechnology for fuels and chemicals, and two-time recipient of a Charles A. Lindbergh grant in recognition of efforts to promote a balance between environmental preservation and technological advancement.

All seminars are held on Mondays (unless otherwise noted) from 4 to 5:15 p.m. in the Andlinger Center’s Maeder Hall. A reception will be provided in the lobby of Maeder Hall immediately following the seminar.