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K-State Today Student Edition

March 6, 2012

The future of fuel: Roadblocks facing biofuels focus of 2012 L.T. Fan lecture

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Renewable fuels and the challenges facing their use will be the topic of the spring presentation in Kansas State University's L.T. Fan Lecture Series.

This year's lecturer will be Harvey W. Blanch, the Merck professor of biochemical engineering in the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He will present "Renewable fuels: A challenge for technology or for policy?" at 9:30 a.m. Monday, March 26, in Fiedler Hall Auditorium. The lecture is free and the public is invited.

Currently biofuels such as ethanol are produced largely from grains, but a large resource of plant biomass could be utilized as a renewable, domestic source of liquid fuels. Blanch will review the history and roadblocks, both technical and political, of biomass conversion to fuels.

Blanch's research has focused on transport, kinetics and thermodynamics in enzymatic and microbial processes, providing an understanding of gas-liquid mass transfer, mixing and rheology in fermentations. He developed enzymatic and microbial routes for the conversion of lignocellulosic materials to sugars and their subsequent fermentation to biofuels such as ethanol.

Blanch received his bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney and doctorate from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. His awards include the American Chemical Society Marvin J. Johnson Award; the Food, Pharmaceutical and Bioengineering Award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; the Amgen Award; and the Enzyme Engineering Award. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

The L.T. Fan Lectureship in Chemical Engineering was established in 2000 to bring preeminent individuals in chemical engineering or related fields to speak at Kansas State University. Fan, a university distinguished professor, served as head of the department of chemical engineering at the university for 30 years and was fundamental in establishing the Institute for Systems Design and Optimization, launching the Ph.D. program in the department and modernizing the chemical engineering curriculum. He was also instrumental in forming the Center for Hazardous Substance Research and securing funding for construction of Durland Hall. Fan continues to be active in teaching and research, for which he has received numerous awards.