Welcome to the Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC)

CBiRC will transform the chemical industry by integrating biological and chemical catalysis systems to produce biorenewable chemicals. CBiRC will also provide educational programs that attract a diverse set of students into the engineering field and produce a new cadre of globally competitive college graduates capable of designing integrated chemical/biological processing systems. CBiRC is funded by an $18.5 million, five-year award from the NSF Engineering Research Center Program, with additional support from institutional matching and industry memberships.

Industry Program

CBiRC Collaboration
The objective of the Industrial Collaboration and Innovation Program is to build and sustain an active collaboration between CBiRC’s academic partners and its innovation and industry members. The Program provides a rich resource of knowledge and practical experience that will deliver fundamental scientific discovery and innovation to its members.

CBiRC Education Program

Brent Shanks teaching Chemical Catalysis
CBiRC has an extensive educational mission, including: (1) Educating pre-college teachers; (2) Educating pre-college students; (3) Providing hands-on research experiences to undergraduates; and (4) Providing novel graduate curricula for students in CBiRC-allied fields. CBiRC is leveraging existing multidisciplinary efforts in biorenewables education at Iowa State University to accomplish its mission.

Research Program

CBiRC’s pioneering research programs are focused on developing technologies that enable the production of biorenewable chemicals. CBiRC will achieve this by harnessing the combined power of biotechnology and catalysis to deliver a broad platform of innovations that cost-effectively convert renewable materials into chemical feedstocks. These biorenewable feedstocks will support the production of biorenewable chemicals within a sustainable chemical industry. To achieve these goals, CBiRC has organized into seven interconnected programs including: Biocatalysis Research, Microbial Engineering Research, Chemical Catalysis Research, Testbeds, Life Cycle Assessment, Industry Collaboration and Innovation, and a unique Education Program in biorenewable chemicals that covers both biological and chemical catalysis.

The CBiRC Team


2015 CBiRC Working Meeting at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa