Rubber, meet road: What’s ahead for bioeconomy?

Ahead for BioeconomyA multistate research team aimed at developing America’s biobased industry — biobased products, bioenergy and the like — will meet in northeast Ohio next month. Its purpose: to see what might be blocking the road and ways to move ahead. CFAES is the host.

The group, whose members come from nearly three dozen U.S. land-grant universities, including The Ohio State University, will hold a symposium called Stakeholder Perspectives on the Bioeconomy at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center Aug. 11. The center, located in Wooster, is the research arm of CFAES.

Yebo Li, symposium co-chair and a CFAES biosystems engineer, said the event’s goal is to understand the challenges facing industry in evolving a bioeconomy — an economy based on sustainable use of renewable resources.

The participants in the symposium will include engineers, economists, industry experts and scientists, especially in agriculture and biology.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture report released last month said that as of 2013, the U.S. biobased industry was already contributing 4 million jobs and $369 billion to America’s economy.

Biobased products are made mostly or entirely from renewable materials from farms and forests, according to a USDA definition. Some of those materials are corn, soybeans, wood pulp, even dandelions.

Bioenergy, too, gets made using renewable biological sources, like sewage, manure and food waste.

Talks at the symposium will cover such topics as the use of plant-derived fibers in plastic composites, the latest status of biobased fuels and chemicals, the impacts of environment regulations, and the development of a sustainable U.S. tire and rubber industry. A complete list of topics and speakers is at go.osu.edu/BioeconomyAgenda.

Registration for the event, which is $50 and includes lunch, is open to the public and the media. A mailable registration form is at go.osu.edu/BioeconomyRegistration.

The research team is assembled around a USDA-funded project called Science and Engineering for a Biobased Industry and Economy.

For details on the event, contact Mary Wicks, coordinator of Ohio State’s Program for Bioproducts and Energy, at wicks.14@osu.edu or 330-202-3533.

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