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Conference Highlights

Successful Conference Brings Bioenergy Technology a Step Closer to "Making It Real"


tcbiomass2013—the third international conference on thermochemical biomass conversion science—presented the latest research and innovations in the exciting field of bioenergy for the further deployment of clean energy technologies. Participants engaged in three days of technological interchange with the world’s leading researchers, scientists, and engineers in biomass conversion. Topics ranged from gasification and pyrolysis to upgrading and pretreatment.

The conference was co-sponsored by Gas Technology Institute, CRI Catalyst Company, U.S. Department of Energy, Iowa State University, RTI International, KBR, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Haldor Topsøe, with media sponsors Advanced Biofuels USA, Biomass Magazine, C&EN, and HART Energy.

This year, the theme of tcbiomass2013 was “Making it Real”… and the conference agenda evidenced just that. Presenters reported substantial technical progress in producing biofuels, including significant achievements and momentum toward commercial activity using a variety of advanced conversion processes. The poster sessions provided great exposure to many of the innovations under development, and excellent exchanges to catalyze developments. The new feature of Virtual Tours allowed the attendees to experience some of the world’s leading biomass conversion facilities. All of these elements of the real innovation, effort, and achievements help to equip and motivate the participants to continue to advance this important element of a sustainable global energy solution.

Conference Highlights:
  • 5 keynotes
  • 36 oral presentations
  • 130+ posters
  • 9 virtual tours
  • Networking events a hit!
  • The conference drew over 320 attendees from 19 countries and 145 organizations, providing an energetic and engaging meeting. The participants included senior experts and young researchers, major corporations and entrepreneurial startups, academics and plant operators.

    Five keynote speakers highlighted the conference and set the tone.

  • Kevin Craig, Conversion Program Manager—Bioenergy Technologies Office of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for the U.S. Department of Energy, presented the U.S. DOE perspective on the accomplishments, challenges and opportunities in biomass conversion.
  • Dr. Alan Del Paggio, Vice President of CRI Catalyst Company, presented “Bridge Building 101”. In his talk, he discussed the challenges that must be addressed in commercializing a technology, using CRI’s approach in executing its first commercial IH2® process license as a case study.
  • Ingvar Landälv, Senior Project Manager—LTU Biosyngas Program of Luleå University of Technology, presented a summary of the European Biofuels Technology Platform, and reported on current European projects utilizing the thermochemical energy conversion pathway. He called on the bioenergy community to maintain momentum in development and deployment.
  • Dr. Mitchell Loescher, Director of Technology for KiOR, provided insight into the path to commercialization of drop-in cellulosic transportation fuels, sharing the challenges and successes of KiOR in producing and selling a qualified blendstock.
  • Robert Sturtz, Vice President of Business Development for World Fuel Services, keynoted “Aviation Biofuel Ready to Fly”, and reviewed this key stakeholder industry’s motivation, progress, and potential in the development and implementation of aviation biofuels.
  • A new Virtual Tour segment was also introduced, allowing participants to "tour the world in minutes". Watch the virtual tour videos online and visit leading bioenergy sites around the globe!

    Networking Events

    tcbiomass2013 kicked off with a welcome reception along the Chicago Riverwalk at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. Attendees raved about a special conference dinner that was hosted at the famed Field Museum. The social event included cocktails, appetizers, an elegant sit-down dinner, and a chance to explore the beautiful and historic museum with colleagues.

    Don Klass Award

    Dr. Esteban Chornet was presented with the Award for Excellence in Thermochemical Conversion Science, a prestigious award that is a tribute to the notable Dr. Donald L. Klass, who was president and one of the original founders of the Biomass Energy Research Association (BERA). Dr. Chornet is Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Enerkem, and a world-renowned scientist in the area of biomass conversion.

    Student Poster Challenge

    tcbiomass2013 hosted a competitive student poster contest to help connect today’s top engineering and science students with global bioenergy experts. Judges Larry Felix (Gas Technology Institute), Paul Grabowski (U.S. Department of Energy), and Jatara Wise (Shell) evaluated nearly 40 poster presentations throughout the conference.

  • Kwang Ho Kim, from Iowa State University on "Hydrogen Donor Solvent Assisted Thermal Conversion of Lignin to Alkylphenols Using an Online Micro Reactor"
  • Paige Case, from the University of Maine on "Format-Assisted Pyrolysis of Biomass and Biomass Constituents"
    Jan Ole Strüven, from University of Hamburg on "Catalytic Hydrocracking of Lignins in Sub Critical Water to Aromatics"
  • The post-conference "buzz" is still running high and the energy level is already building for tcbiomass2015 to be held in Chicago once again!

    We thank our sponsors for their generosity and support.

    Quotes from attendees

    "Thank you for a very nice conference experience. It was a valuable time in Chicago and I enjoyed many of the presentations given as well as the virtual sessi​ons."
    –Dr. Björn Fredriksson Möller, EGD Project Director, E.ON Gasification Development

    "It was a pleasure to attend the tcbiomass conference. Made wonderful connections and learned a lot about the topics."
    —Avanti Kulkarni, Graduate Research Student, Auburn University