The Science and Engineering for a Biobased Industry and Economy
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Increased use of economically-viable and sustainable processes will require deliberate development and refinement of novel technologies. Implementation of economically viable and sustainable processes is urgent due to three converging issues: (1) decrease in productive agricultural land due to urbanization pressures; (2) using unsustainable methods to clear land for agricultural production; and (3) increasing world population with a rising per capita energy use and consumption of animal protein. One billion hectares of land will be cleared by 2050, resulting in the release of 3 Gt/year of greenhouse gases (Tilman et al., 2011). Global population will reach 9 billion by 2050, resulting in rising food demand from 2005 to 2050 (Tilman et al., 2011; Hochman et al. 2014). The breadth of these intersecting problems is so vast that constructive solutions can only be developed and implemented through collaborations that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries. Replacing existing petroleum-based energy and products with those that are stemming from biomass will require research and development (Dale et al. 2014). Additionally, in order to determine whether novel processes and ensuing technology are actually making advances in sustainability, quantitative sustainability metrics need to be developed. These metrics are urgently needed to guide science and/or engineering approaches to increase sustainability of agricultural production and processing.With depressed price of crude oil, the conversion fo biomass into fuels becomes less attractive. Hence, this project will develop new strategies for biomass conversion into useful products and value added processes as follows:a. Cost effectivve new chemicals that will replace fossil-fueld based alternativesb. Sustainable processesfor energy-intensivematerials and other valuable products likewise, to replace fossil-fuel-based alternativesc. New life cycle analyses of biomass conversion into higher value chemicals that are pre-cursor to special chemicals for the agriculture and industry.d. The project will also focus on least cost biomass aside from agricultural residues such as municipal solid wastes, animal manure, municipal sludge and other agriculture and community waste streams.