A significant focus in my research program at the Joint BioEnergy Institute is the development of new scientific insights and novel technologies for biomass deconstruction, the process of breaking down and fractionating lignocellulos into targeted intermediates through the use of ionic liquids. This includes the development of microbes and enzymes that can tolerate and operate efficiently in the presence of these ionic liquids, and the advent of consolidated conversion operations in order to produce a scalable, sustainable, and affordable technology suitable for deployment in a biorefinery.
Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing
While the 21st century will undoubtedly be recognized for advances in the biological and life sciences, another important element in magnifying the positive impacts of these advances is to enable the US bioeconomy, especially in the realms of developing advanced biomanufacturing technologies to replace and displace current manufacturing techniques that are energy intensive and have a negative effect on the environment. My goal is to mature the science of biotechnology and synthetic biology into a BioFoundry, and to identify opportunities where biomanufacturing can have a positive impact on cost and sustainability profiles relative to conventional manufacturing approaches.
Nanotechnology and Nanostructured Materials
Another significant research interest is the development of templated nanomaterials that provide a superior performance attributes relative to bulk materials. I have worked with surfactant-based approaches for the production of tailored nanostructures with unique properties as semiconductors, photocatalysts, catalysts, and energy storage materials.
- Sun, N., Xu, F., Sathitsuksanoh, N., Thompson, V.S., Cafferty, K., Li, C., Tanjore, D., Narani, A., Pray, T.R., Simmons, B.A., Singh, S. 2015. Blending municipal solid waste with corn stover for sugar production using ionic liquid process. Bioresour Technol, 186(0), 200-206.
- Cheng, G., Zhang, X., Simmons, B., Singh, S. 2015. Theory, practice and prospects of X-ray and neutron scattering for lignocellulosic biomass characterization: towards understanding biomass pretreatment. Energy Environ. Sci., 8(2), 436-455.
- Papa, G., Rodriguez, S., George, A., Schievano, A., Orzi, V., Sale, K.L., Singh, S., Adani, F., Simmons, B.A. 2015. Comparison of different pretreatments for the production of bioethanol and biomethane from corn stover and switchgrass. Bioresour Technol, 183C(0), 101-110.
- Socha, A.M., Parthasarathi, R., Shi, J., Pattathil, S., Whyte, D., Bergeron, M., George, A., Tran, K., Stavila, V., Venkatachalam, S., Hahn, M.G., Simmons, B.A., Singh, S. 2014. Efficient biomass pretreatment using ionic liquids derived from lignin and hemicellulose. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 111(35), E3587-95.
- Eudes, A., Sathitsuksanoh, N., Baidoo, E.E., George, A., Liang, Y., Yang, F., Singh, S., Keasling, J.D., Simmons, B.A., Loque, D. 2015. Expression of a bacterial 3-dehydroshikimate dehydratase reduces lignin content and improves biomass saccharification efficiency. Plant Biotechnol J.
- Uppugundla, N., da Costa Sousa, L., Chundawat, S.P., Yu, X., Simmons, B., Singh, S., Gao, X., Kumar, R., Wyman, C.E., Dale, B.E., Balan, V. 2014. A comparative study of ethanol production using dilute acid, ionic liquid and AFEX pretreated corn stover. Biotechnol Biofuels, 7(1), 72.
- Sun, N., Parthasarathi, R., Socha, A.M., Shi, J., Zhang, S., Stavila, V., Sale, K.L., Simmons, B.A., Singh, S. 2014. Understanding pretreatment efficacy of four cholinium and imidazolium ionic liquids by chemistry and computation. Green Chemistry, 16(5), 2546-2557.
- Sathitsuksanoh, N., Holtman, K.M., Yelle, D.J., Morgan, T., Stavila, V., Pelton, J., Blanch, H., Simmons, B.A., George, A. 2014. Lignin fate and characterization during ionic liquid biomass pretreatment for renewable chemicals and fuels production. Green Chemistry, 16(3), 1236-1247.
- Ruegg, T.L., Kim, E.M., Simmons, B.A., Keasling, J.D., Singer, S.W., Soon Lee, T., Thelen, M.P. 2014. An auto-inducible mechanism for ionic liquid resistance in microbial biofuel production. Nat Commun, 5, 3490.
- Oleskowicz-Popiel, P., Klein-Marcuschamer, D., Simmons, B.A., Blanch, H.W. 2014. Lignocellulosic ethanol production without enzymes–technoeconomic analysis of ionic liquid pretreatment followed by acidolysis. Bioresour Technol, 158, 294-9.