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Biofuels: Challenges and Solutions

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First generation biofuels are in recent downturn, and second generation biofuels will be competitive in 3-5 years or more. We should develop transitional technologies to end the stalemate of biofuels and speed up the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol. Sweet sorghum is a promising feedstock of ethanol, and Advanced Solid State Fermentation (ASSF) technology derived from Tsinghua University can ensure sweet sorghum ethanol cost competitive with sugar cane ethanol, the fermentation time is only 24 hours with ethanol yield of 92%, mathematical models to describe solid state fermentation process have been developed to design fermentors for industry use. ASSF is a bridge technology from first to second generation biofuels, will achieve the sustainable development. Research progress in cellulosic ethanol at Tsinghua University, such as microorganism community for producing different enzymes to breakdown cellulose, and consolidated bioprocessing with online separation of ethanol by membrane bioreactor will be introduced. The collaboration between Cambridge and Tsinghua on sweet sorghum ethanol and celluloisc ethanol is also proposed.

About the Speaker

Professor SZ Li specialises in developing bio-fuels from sorghum and has an experimental station in Inner Mongolia. He has close insights into Chinese energy policy and is called on periodically as an adviser to key ministers. Professor Li is enthusiastic about bilateral cooperation with the UK and has previously done work with Imperial College London.

This talk is part of the Centre for Energy Studies series.

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