Second-generation biofuels will be derived from lignocellulosic biomass using biological catalysts to convert the carbon in plant cell wall polysaccharides to ethanol or other biofuels. The Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels (C3Bio) is a DOE-funded Energy Frontier Research Center, which aims to develop transformational technologies to maximize the energy and carbon efficiencies of biofuels production. Heterogeneous chemical catalysis using inorganic and robust catalysts provides an alternative strategy to biological fermentation routes for the production of advanced biofuels, including alkanes and the aromatic components characteristic of gasoline. Designing new catalysts for converting lignocellulosic biomass to biofuels requires understanding the interactions of catalysts with the chemical and physical structures of the biomass at scales ranging from atoms to macromolecules. We are also exploring thermal treatments, including fast-hydropyrolysis, that may generate a bio-oil suitable for catalytic upgrading. We are generating variants of cell wall structures, by manipulation of endogeneous plant genes, and transgenic lines that incorporate catalysts directly or functionalized sites for future catalysis as the plants grow, that is, biomass tailored for its end-use in new conversion processes.
|Contributor||Joseph M. Cychosz
Dr. McCann obtained her undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, UK, in 1987, and then a Ph.D. in Botany at the John Innes Centre, Norwich UK, a government-funded research institute for plant and microbial sciences. Maureen stayed at the John Innes Centre for a post-doctoral, partly funded by Unilever, and then as a project leader in 1995, funded by The Royal Society. In January 2003, she moved across the Atlantic to Purdue University to enjoy watching the corn grow.
Professor McCann’s research goal is to understand how the molecular machinery of the plant cell wall contributes to cell growth and specialization, and thus to the final stature and form of plants. The cell wall is a highly organized composite of many different polysaccharides, proteins, and aromatic substances. However, it has been difficult to ascribe specific functions to these molecules. We aim to define the relationship between genetically-defined changes in plant cell wall-related proteins (biosynthetic, hydrolytic, and structural) and cell wall molecular architecture and structural properties. Plant cell walls are the source of lignocellulosic biomass, an untapped and sustainable resource for biofuels production with the potential to reduce oil dependence, improve national security, and boost rural economies. Dr. McCann leads an interdisciplinary team of biologists, chemists and chemical engineers in a DOE-funded Energy Frontier Research Center focused on developing technologies for the direct catalytic conversion of biomass to biofuels.
This work is supported as part of the Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels (C3Bio), an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Award Number DE-SC0000997.
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|Time||05:15 PM, May 24, 2010|
|Location||Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN|