Past Seminar

Biorefineries: RFF First Wednesday Seminar

Apr 4, 2007 Video

About the Event

Biomass Energy: Biorefineries
RFF First Wednesday Seminar
April 4, 2007

Sponsored by RFF and the Institute for Forest Biotechnology (IFB)

 The panel address the potential of cellulosic biomass for producing energy and transport fuels. Pulpmills, which currently use large volumes of wood and energy, could be modified to include biorefineries. Utilizing new gasification systems, these facilities could convert wood and other cellulosic material into energy and biofuels, including ethanol and biocrude. These possibilities are examined, as well as the comparative potential of various feedstocks, including rapidly growing trees and agricultural cellulose as feedstock.


Audio and Video
Event Audio (mp3) click to stream right-click to download

Phil Sharp, President, RFF

Phil SharpPhil Sharp is president of RFF. His career in public service includes 10 terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana and a lengthy tenure on the faculty of the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard University.
He served as director of the IOP from 1995 to 1998 and again from 2004 until August 2005. Sharp serves on the board of directors of the Energy Foundation, is co-chair of the Energy Board of the Keystone Center, and is a member of the National Research Council's Board of Energy and Environmental Systems. He received his Ph.D. in government from Georgetown University.

Roger SedjoRoger Sedjo
Senior Fellow and Director, Forests Economics and Policy Program 
Resources For the Future

Sedjo’s research interests include forests and global environmental problems, climate change and biodiversity, public lands issues, long-term sustainability of forests, industrial forestry and demand, timber supply modeling, international forestry, global forest trade, forest biotechnology, and land-use change.

He has written or edited 14 books related to forestry and natural resources. Sedjo has served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Committee of Scientists and has co-chaired the committee of authors who wrote the chapter on biological sinks for the International Panel on Climate Change’s Third Assessment Report on climate change mitigation through forestry and other land-use measures. He also has been a consultant to the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and other international organizations in more than a dozen countries, including Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, New Zealand, Russia, Romania, Estonia, and Thailand.

Eric D. Larson
Research Engineer
Princeton Environmental Institute
Princeton UniversityEric D. Larson

Larson is on the research faculty at Princeton University as a senior member of the Energy Systems Analysis Group in the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI).He is also part of PEI’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative.

He is an affiliated faculty member in the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy Program of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Larson’s research interests include engineering, economic, and policy-related analysis of advanced clean-energy systems, especially for gasification-based electric power and transport fuels production from carbonaceous fuels. He recently led a multi-institution assessment, supported by DOE and the America Forest and Paper Association, of prospective applications for gasification-based biorefinery technologies in the U.S. pulp and paper industry. He is involved in analysis of other bioenergy technology strategies, including those for coal and biomass co-gasification, collaborating with colleagues in the United States and China. Larson holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Washington University, and an M.S.E. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He has been at Princeton University since completing his Ph.D.

Barbara Wells, President and CEO

Barbara WellsWells joined ArborGen, headquartered in Summerville, South Carolina, in 2002. Formed in 2000, ArborGen LLC is a world leader in the research, development, and commercialization of applications in genetic and new technology that will improve forest sustainability and productivity.
Prior to joining ArborGen, Wells was vice president responsible for growth initiatives and investments in Latin America for Emergent Genetics, an agricultural investment firm affiliated with Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst. She worked for 17 years at Monsanto, as co-managing director of Monsanto Brazil, Roundup Ready Soybean global team leader, and regional product development manager for Agronomic Crops and Forestry. Wells received her Ph.D. in agronomy from Oregon State University, her M.S. in plant pathology, and her B.S. with honors in horticulture from the University of Arizona. She is a member of the Food and Agriculture Sector Governing Body of the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Board of Directors of the Institute of Forest Biotechnology. Wells also is on the Board of Trustees of the World Agroforestry Centre, part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

Stephen S. Kelley
Professor and Department Head Wood and Paper Science
North Carolina State UniversityStephen S. Kelley

Prior to joining NCSU, Kelley spent 13 years at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), working on biomass conversion technologies. His responsibilities included technical leadership and innovation in the areas of biomass characterization, production of value-added biobased products and thermal conversion processes, and project management.

He also helped develop the strategic vision for the NREL biomass program and supported DOE staff. Prior to joining NREL, he spent seven years in industry, with Eastman Chemical Co. and Bend Research, Inc., developing new cellulose-based materials and membrane processes.

Theodore H. Wegner
Assistant Director
Forest Products Laboratory, USDA Forest ServiceStephen S. Kelley

Wegner has served as assistant director of the Forest Products Laboratory since 1989. Previously, he was a research unit leader and a research scientist. Prior to working in government, Wegner was a researcher for E. I. DuPont.

Wegner’s contributions to the forest biorefinery come from his work on a variety of industry and government task groups.
Notably, he worked with a consortium on producing ethanol from hemicelluloses extracted prior to pulping and helped develop the Forest Service research program for the bioenergy, biofuels, and bioproducts. He serves as forest service representative on the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative and has been influential in helping the U.S. forest products industry form a liaison group with the National Nanotechnology Initiative.
He holds a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, all in chemical engineering. Wegner is a member and fellow of the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry and a member of the Forest Products Society, the Society of Wood Science and Technology, the Pulp and Paper Education and Research Alliance, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemical Society, the Materials Research Society, Sigma Xi Research Society, and Alpha Chi Sigma—Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Fraternity.

John C. Houghton 
John C. HoughtonOffice of Biological and Environmental Reserach, U.S. Department of Energy

Houghton manages research programs in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the Office of Science. He has helped the office develop and implement a biofuels program; he also manages a computational biology program. He has directed DOE research programs in the Integrated Assessment of Climate Change, bioremediation and carbon sequestration.

Prior to DOE, he was an office director at ARCO Oil and Gas Company’s corporate research laboratory in Dallas, Texas. Before that, Houghton held several positions at the U.S. Geological Survey, including deputy assistant director for research, research scientist, and director of the Geographic Information Systems Research Laboratory. Houghton served as a senior policy analyst in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Carter White House, where he was responsible for natural resource issues, and he was a research scientist in Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Energy Laboratory, where he authored a text with three members of the MIT faculty on the economics of depletable resources. Houghton received his Ph.D. in engineering from Harvard University and his B.S. in geology from Stanford University.

Q and A



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