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The Future Is Garbage: Waste Biomass as a Renewable Feedstock

Valued Contributor II
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Organizers: Tony Bova, CEO, mobius; Anna Zhenova, MS, Ph.D. Student, University of York


Every day, people across the world throw away and discard items they think have outlived their usefulness. Wheat straw, potato peels, tree bark, shrimp shells, and even hog hair are things that are often discarded even though they could still be a source of valuable chemicals. In today’s society there is an enormous amount of untapped chemical potential in waste biomass, the future of the bio-economy is learning how to take this industrial garbage and chemically transform it into the products we rely on every day.

This two-part session aims to expand attendees’ viewpoints of what can be a chemical feedstock, starting in the laboratory and expanding to commercial applications. Attendees will learn about trends in waste valorization, examples of waste biomass uses from around the world (both commercial and academic), and recent developments in biorefinery concepts and extraction methods.


The morning session will begin with an overview of recent trends in food waste utilization from Dr. Eduardo Melo of the University of York, which is great for attendees who may be new to the topic. The morning session focuses on academic examples of converting biomass waste into new chemicals and materials, featuring unusual feedstocks such as hog hair, birch bark and chokeberry skins.


The afternoon session is more commercially-oriented, and will begin with an overview of an innovative waste gas fermentation technology from Dr. Sean Simpson, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of LanzaTech, challenging attendees to consider microbes as partners in efficient chemical transformation. Talks to follow include development of biorefinery concepts and novel extraction methods or applications for bio-waste, as well as a broader perspective on the concept of “Lost Carbon” from Tony Bova, Co-Founder and CEO of mobius.


Thinking of waste as a feedstock is critical for the future of green chemistry. Use of traditional bio-renewable feedstocks, such as corn and sugarcane, can negatively impact food supply when scaled. Transitioning to a circular economy requires that we learn how to make the most of our waste and use valuable chemical components that we currently discard. This is a major challenge that requires intensive research from green chemists around the world.


We hope you will join us at the Conference!


This session will take place at the 23rd Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference/9th Annual International Conference on Green & Sustainable Chemistry. Part 1 will take place on Tuesday, June 11 from 9:45 AM to 12:10 PM at the Regency A, Hyatt Regency Reston, VA. Part 2 will take place on Tuesday, June 11 from 1:30 PM to 5:55 PM at the Regency A, Hyatt Regency Reston, VA.