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Dr. Shulin Chen Bioprocessing & Bioproducts Engineering Lab

Research Program Overview

The Bioprocessing & Bioproducts Engineering Laboratory (BBEL) in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering is led by Professor Shulin Chen.

As a major research group in the field of industrial biotechnology in the Pacific Northwest, the Bioprocessing & Bioproducts Engineering Laboratory (BBEL) in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering focuses on advancing science and technologies within the context of Industrial Biosystems Engineering. More specifically, BBEL develops bioconversion processes and systems for the production of biofuel, bioenergy, and bioproducts; primarily biochemicals and nutraceuticals. The research program is organized towards the best use of existing lignocellulosic biomass and to add algae biomass as a significant component of future biomass supplies. Our target fuel products are aviation biofuel and biogas; our targeted biochemical products are nutraceuticals, fine chemicals, and industrial chemicals from various types of biomass. BBEL’s specific research efforts encompass five main areas:

  • biological system based pretreatment of lignocelluloses to obtain fermentable sugars for the production of fuels and chemicals (“biological pretreatment” for short)
  • utilizing these existing lignocelluloses for the production of lipid as the feedstock for biofuel
  • developing strains, processes and systems for large-scale algae cultivation
  • develop technologies converting algae and other microbial biomass into biochemicals and fuel
  • and developing a new generation of anaerobic digestion technologies.

In the pursuit for excellence in the above research areas, BBEL takes a unique general approach, developed core competences, and great capabilities.

General Approach: BBEL takes a systems approach in both its research and development activities and in addressing technical challenges. This approach builds upon three principal beliefs:

  1. Optimal system performance overrides performance maximization of each individual component
  2. Mass, energy and information transfers crossing sub-system boundaries drive process kinetics
  3. System stability builds on sustainability

Core competences:

  1. Systems engineering focusing on process modeling, system integration and optimization
  2. Systems biology focusing on cell factory design, optimization, and control via environmental factors
  3. Innovative design of unit operations that mimicking natural biological systems.

Unique capabilities:

  1. Multi-disciplinary research staff with broad national and international collaborations
  2. Facilities, analytical procedures and protocols
  3. Software platforms for modeling, simulation, and computer program development.