Society for Biological Engineering Introduces First Conference on Electrofuels Research

September 14, 2011
NEW YORK – In an effort to expand and accelerate the investigation of novel sources of alternative energy, the Society for Biological Engineering is sponsoring a new conference series on Electrofuels Research. The inaugural meeting will be held November 6th to 9th at the Biltmore Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island, and will be chaired by Greg Stephanopoulos of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The conference will bring together key participants in energy innovation--engineers, scientists, venture capital investors, entrepreneurs, large corporations, and government officials--to share ideas and research strategies for developing and deploying new liquid transportation fuels. Instead of using petroleum or biomass, the processes to be discussed use microorganisms to harness chemical and electrical energy from sources such as solar-derived electricity or hydrogen or earth-abundant metal ions to convert carbon dioxide into liquid fuel with remarkably high efficiency. 
Electrofuels research shows promise for producing fuel in massive scale and at a low cost, enabling the possibility of reducing the reliance on oil. Electrofuels research is focused on a unique method for the production of liquid fuels that combines metabolic engineering and synthetic biology to produce the next generation of biofuels.
Dennis Beal, Vice President of Global Vehicles for FedEx and former Vice President of Physical Assets at FedEx Freight will give a keynote address. Daniel Nocera, a founder of Sun Catalytix,  t he Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy and professor of chemistry at MIT, and director of MIT’s Solar Revolutions Project and the ENI Solar Frontiers Center, will also be a keynote speaker. 
ARPA-E Electrofuels Project presentations to feature:
  • Scott Banta, Columbia University, Electrofuel production using ammonia or iron as redox mediators in reverse microbial fuel cells
  • Christopher Brigham, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ralstonia eutropha and the de novo biosynthesis of isobutanol
  • Swapnil Chhabra, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Microbial-electocatalytic production of biofuels
  • Wayne Curtis, Pennsylvania State University, Development of rhodobacter as a versatile microbial platform for fuels production
  • Curt Fischer, Ginkgo Bioworks, Design, construction, and testing of metabolic modules for E. coli-based electrofuels 
  • Luisa Gronenberg, University of California, Los Angeles, Reduction of CO2 to C4 and C5 higher alcohols
  • Bob Kelly, North Carolina State University, Hydrogen-dependent conversion of CO2 to liquid electrofuels by extremely thermophilic Archaea
  • Derek Lovely, University of Massachusetts, Microbial electrosynthesis: the shortest path from the sun to fuel
  • Michael Lynch, OPX Biotechnologies, Diesel production via fatty acid synthesis utilizing hydrogen and carbon dioxide feedstocks
  • Harold May, Medical University of South Carolina, Electrosynthesis by microbial communities
  • Greg Stephanopoulos, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bioprocess and microbe engineering for total carbon utilization in biofuel production 
  • Robert Tabita, Ohio State University, Carbon dioxide to biofuels by facultativley autotrophic hydrogen bacteria
  • Jeffery Way, Harvard Medical School, Engineering bacterial electron uptake and CO2 fixation for electrofuel synthesis

About SBE:

Established in 2004 by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the Society for Biological Engineering is a technological community for engineers and applied scientists integrating biology with engineering. Members of SBE come from a broad spectrum of industries and disciplines and share in SBE’s mission of realizing the benefits of bioprocessing, biomedical and biomolecular applications. For more information, please visit

About ARPA-E:

ARPA-E’s mission is to fund projects that will develop transformational technologies that reduce America’s dependence on foreign energy imports; reduce U.S. energy related emissions (including greenhouse gasses); improve energy efficiency across all sectors of the U.S. economy and ensure that the U.S. maintains its leadership in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies. Additional information can be found at

About AIChE:

AIChE is a professional society of more than 40,000 chemical engineers in 92 countries. Its members work in corporations, universities and government using their knowledge of chemical processes to develop safe and useful products for the benefit of society. Through its varied programs, AIChE continues to be a focal point for information exchange on the frontier of chemical engineering research in such areas as nanotechnology, sustainability, hydrogen fuels, biological and environmental engineering, and chemical plant safety and security. More information about AIChE is available at