The NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC) will develop the fundamental knowledge and technology and the academic and industrial partnerships needed to provide a foundation for industrial chemical production to be transformed from a petroleum-based industry to a renewable resource-based industry.
The overarching goal of CBiRC is to enable the transformation of the chemical industry through the optimized coupling of two catalyst types such that a biocatalyst will convert glucose to an intermediate chemical that can be readily converted by a chemical catalyst to the desired chemical product. It will educate a workforce capable of enabling this transformation.
CBiRC’s vision can be visualized in the NSF Engineering Research Center “Three-Plane Chart”. This encompasses three levels of activity including the knowledge base, technology base and technology integration leading to valuable systems:
The existing petrochemical industry can be envisioned as a branched tree containing seven primary branches making multiple petrochemicals, depicted as leaves (see left side image below). CBiRC’s vision of the bio-based future can also be envisioned as a branched tree containing different branches but eventually creating similar biorenewable chemicals (see right side image below).