Member Hour: Focus on Circularity

10/14/2021 12:00:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time) - 10/14/2021 1:00:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time) Zoom


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Coupling agricultural production with sustainable bioenergy systems that can offset greenhouse gases emitted during crop production and the use of nitrogen fertilizer and produce nitrogen-rich soil amendments or livestock feeds may help us improve the circular economy of agriculture and work within planetary boundaries for climate stabilization. During this talk, we will walk through a case study of sustainable bioenergy in a circular economy in Pennsylvania where digester systems are new entrepreneurial units allowing the next generation to grow the farm business and portfolio of revenue streams, and discuss the estimated larger opportunity for the state.  

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Achieving a circular economy is critical for a sustainable future, particularly in sectors that currently produce resource-intensive products in a linear fashion (e.g. steel, cement, plastics, and food products). At the same time, technologies that remove atmospheric CO2, often referred to as carbon dioxide removal (CDR), must be developed and deployed rapidly if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Industrial biosystems are essential to achieving a circular economy and enabling rapid deployment of CDR technologies. Circularity and CDR are often assessed and discussed independently, even though they are highly intertwined. Low-value biocarbon materials, such as agricultural residues, food waste, and industrial byproducts, must be inserted into existing supply chains to produce new carbon-negative products, thereby coupling circularity with carbon negativity. 

Joe Sagues is the principal investigator of the Biocarbon Utilization and Sequestration (BUS) Lab in the biological and agricultural engineering department at North Carolina State University. He has experience in the research, development, and demonstration of innovative bioprocessing technologies at corporations, universities, and national labs. During graduate school, he conducted independent research as a Technology-to-Market Scholar at the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) and as an Office of Science Graduate Student Research Fellow (SCGSR) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The BUS Lab takes an integrated approach to innovating technologies that utilize and sequester biogenic carbon. The lab's aim is to leverage the bioeconomy for carbon drawdown by bridging fundamental advances in synthetic biology and chemical catalysis with bioprocess engineering to innovate carbon-negative bioproducts that range from feed, chemicals, fuels, and materials.