by Kathy Chambers on Thu, July 24, 2014
It is anticipated that the biofuels industry will have a dramatic impact on our lives, much like the petroleum industry. Alternative fuels from renewable cellulosic biomass— plant stalks, trunks, stems, and leaves—are expected to significantly reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil while enhancing national energy security and decreasing the environmental impacts of energy use. Research is currently focused on accelerating the environmental and commercial viability of biofuel production.
The University of Tennessee’s Arthur Ragauskas is one of the notable scientists who are redefining the frontiers of bioenergy research in the quest for an economically feasible and sustainable biofuel industry. Dr. Ragauskas’s research is important in uncovering ways to convert biomass such as lignocellulose to biofuels, biopower, and biomaterials. His current work focuses on converting plant matter, found in the cell walls of energy crops, into biofuels and reducing the cost of conversion of biomass to biofuel. He also works to uncover applications of bio-based chemicals and materials for use in health care and industry. Ragauskas has recently moved to the University of Tennessee (UT) from the Georgia Institute of Technology where he was a professor within the Institute of Paper Science and Technology. Many of Ragauskas' DOE research reports and journal citations can be viewed in DOE’s SciTech Connect database.
Dr. Ragauskas was recently named the UT–Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Governor’s Chair for Biorefining, based in University of Tennessee’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Funded by the State of Tennessee and ORNL, the UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair program attracts top scientists to broaden and enhance the unique research partnership that exists between the University of Tennessee and the nation’s largest multi-program laboratory. Ragauskas is one of fourteen scientists currently serving as Governor’s Chairs in the areas of advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, biological sciences, energy sciences, nuclear security, and urban design.
Additionally, Dr. Ragauskas serves at ORNL’s Energy and Environmental Sciences Directorate, Biosciences Division and DOE’s Bioenergy Science Center (BESC), of which he was a founding member. ORNL’s BioEnergy Science Center is leading the way to low-recalcitrance plant resources and improved conversion, which will provide the technology platform for widespread, low-cost cellulosic ethanol.
Information on DOE biofuels research reports can be viewed in SciTech Connect. Dr. William Watson also provides a good overview of DOE biofuel research in his latest white paper In the OSTI Collections: Biofuels. OSTI additionally showcases biofuels on the OSTI home page.