Cain Department of Chemical Engineering SEMINAR


“Biomass: Cradle to Grave (and the friends in between)”

Dr. Wayne Curtis
Chemical Engineering
Penn State University

The CRADLE aspect of this seminar will describe our efforts to facilitate PROPAGATION of plants ranging from the use of bioreactor systems, to embryogenic transcription factors and proteins which promote somatic embryogenesis.  This major ongoing project in this area is to enhance food security in Africa by facilitating the propagation of disease-free root crops (while also developing biotechnological methods of plant improvement).  The GRAVE aspect of this seminar deals with BIOFUELS production from biomass which includes multi-organism deconstruction of biomass to biofuels (based on oxygen diffusion gradient controlled mixed populations of facultative and obligate anaerobes), as well as a recent ARPA-e project on ‘Electrofuels’ to produce hydrocarbons from CO2 fixed by chemolithotrophs (using H2 as the source of electrons rather than photosynthesis).  The algae biofuels work illustrates why algae growth rate is largely irrelevant to biofuel productivity, and why algae growth on nitric acid results in an alkaline growth environment (stoichiometry-based bioprocess control).   Several ‘teaser topics’ for the “friends in between” will include recent work with squid protein bioplastics, fungi production kill bed bugs, and membrane production expression (measurement of H2O transport in aquaporin), and culminate with a brief description of our ongoing effort to develop in the field ‘gene therapy’ for plants using insect-delivered viral vectors.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018
10:30 am
1100 Patrick F. Taylor Hall