Student Working in BSE Lab


Program Description

The Bioresource Science and Engineering (BSE) interest group does research on conversion of cellulosic biomass to fuels, chemicals, and high value products. Research areas include process development and simulation, natural products chemistry, bioconversion methods, and techno-economic analysis. Faculty in the interest group work closely with faculty from Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and Mechanical Engineering to investigate the fundamentals of biomass conversion and to develop new processes for making fuels, chemicals, and bio-based products that are economically viable and environmentally beneficial. Course work in this program is flexible to cover the diversity of student interests within the interest group. The interest group is highly interdisciplinary and students with backgrounds in chemistry, biology, and engineering are encouraged to apply.

Current Research

Research in the BSE interest group covers a broad range of areas related to the production of fuels, chemicals and products from biomass: The research can be divided into four main areas:

  • •  Resource assessment and development:  (Briggs, Bura, Doty, McKean)
    A viable biofuels industry will require processes that can use a variety of biomass resources. We are investigating the use of residual materials — forest, agriculture, municipal waste — and plantation feedstocks such as poplar trees and reeds for biorefineries. The environmental impact and product quality associated with use of these feedstocks is a major research focus.
  • •  Chemistry and biology of bioconversion processes:  (Bura, Doty, Hodgson)
    A fundamental understanding of the chemistry and biology of bioconversion processes is essential to develop superior processes for conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals. Researchers in this area are developing new analysis techniques for evaluating bioconversion processes and new organisms that promise to result in better process yields and superior product quality.
  • •  Biorefinery process development and simulation:  (Hodgson, Gustafson, Bura, McKean)
    We are collaborating with faculty in Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering to develop new processes for converting biomass to fuels and chemicals. Features of these processes include their ability to handle mixed feedstocks and their profitability at moderate economies of scale. Example projects include development of novel low energy separation processes and life cycle analysis of new biorefinery systems.
  • •  Manufacture of high value co-products:  (Allan, Hodgson, McKean, Gustafson)
    One route to economic viable biorefineries is the capability to produce high value co-products. We are doing research on processes that will produce biofuels, such as ethanol, along with high value chemicals and bio-based products. An important thrust of this research is to re-envision pulp and paper mills to be forest biorefineries co-producing high value paper products, chemicals, and biofuels.

The Bioresource Science and Engineering group has excellent facilities. These include individual faculty laboratories, and a newly renovated 1,600 sq. ft. Bioresource Laboratory which includes a wide array of analytical equipment, such as HPLCs, and processing equipment such as fermenters and separation apparatuses. In addition, we have a 3,600 sq. ft. pilot facility with many unit operations for converting biomass into the fuels, chemical, and products. These facilities provide the capability to carry out fundamental research as well as commercialize new bioprocessing technologies.

Details about specific research projects can be found on individual faculty web sites. For current funded grants in this interest group click here.

FacultyAreas of Interest
G. Graham Allan Fiber composites; Polymer science;Creativity and innovation; Controlled release systems
Renata Bura Bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass; Biomaterials from lignin and plant components
Anthony Dichiara Synthesis of nanomaterials from biomass; characterization of biomaterials and their applications in multifunctional composites and environmental remediation
Sharon Doty Phytoremediation; Plant microbiology
Heidi L. Gough Environmental Engineering; Movement of Contaminants through the Environment; Microbial processes in Wastewater Treatment; Biotransformation of Emerging Contaminants; Anaerobic Digestion; Subsurface Bioremediation; Applied Microbial Ecology
Richard Gustafson Biofuels and bio-based products; Process simulation; Process control; Instrument development
Fernando Resende Thermochemical conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into fuels and chemicals
Azra Suko

For further information:

Interest Group Coordinators: Dr. Rick Gustafson and Dr. Renata Bura
School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
Box 352100
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-2100
email or; FAX 206-685-3091; Phone 206-543-7346