Dr. Josh A. Schaidle Director of the Chemical Catalysis for Bioenergy Consortium National Bioenergy Center National Renewable Energy Laboratory Golden, CO
Carbon is, and will continue to be, critical to our product- and energy-driven economy, thus steps need to be taken to effectively manage carbon across sectors, with an emphasis on improving carbon conversion efficiency and utilization of waste carbon sources. Emerging technologies for carbon utilization from biomass and waste feedstocks not only face technological hurdles, but also need to be successful in a world marked by exponential rates of technology advancement, rapid technology adoption, high market volatility, and regulatory uncertainty. One approach to overcome these hurdles is through designed resilience, developing versatile technology platforms with feedstock flexibility and product tunability. This presentation will discuss our ongoing efforts to develop two versatile catalytic technology platforms: catalytic fast pyrolysis and indirect liquefaction through dimethyl ether. By coupling foundational science, applied engineering, and technoeconomic analysis, targeted catalyst advancements have been achieved that resulted in improvements in carbon efficiency and product tunability. These catalyst advancements will be described from both (1) a fundamental perspective regarding structure-function relationships and (2) an applied perspective assessing the value proposition of the materials leveraging our recently-released CatCost tool. CatCost is a free, publicly-available, state-of-the-art tool for estimating the bulk-scale production costs of pre-commercial catalytic materials and can be found at https://catcost.chemcatbio.org. Lastly, future opportunities for resilient technology platforms enabled by tunable catalysis will be discussed.