Inaugural symposium fuels scientific interest

10 December 2010

Crown Research Institute Scion is hosting an inaugural Biofuels Science Symposium in Rotorua on 13 and 14 of December. Organisers were hoping for 30 attendees, but with more than 70 delegates pre-registered, they are witnessing first-hand the intense scientific and policy interests in liquid biofuels.

Scion is proud to host this important event in Rotorua and to have a distinguished panel of local and international experts in attendance.

Unlike petrol made from imported oil, biofuels are made from renewable sources including wood, grasses, and algae.

“At some point in the future, we envisage New Zealand can be one-hundred-percent self-sufficient for transport fuel,” says Dr Trevor Stuthridge, Group Manager for Sustainable Design at Scion.

“With global oil production at a peak, the New Zealand scientific community needs to take a leadership role and develop a national strategy for biofuels research,” says Dr Stuthridge.

The Biofuels Science Symposium is the first time the national biofuels research community has come together to discuss the latest scientific developments and the development of a national research strategy.

“Compared to many countries, the New Zealand research community, which receives around $10 million in funding annually, is small, so we all need to work very closely together, combining resources for the good of New Zealand,” says Dr Stuthridge.

Recent announcements from the Minister of Economic Development and also from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment have primed New Zealand’s scientific community that the technologies developed from local biofuels research can have major impacts on New Zealand’s economy and energy independence.

Monday (13 December) will feature keynote presentations from international experts, including Jack Saddler from the University of British Columbia, Jim McMillan from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the USA and Claus Felby from the University of Copenhagen.

Attendance of international keynote speakers to the symposium has been supported by Ministry of Research, Science and Technology and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Science Promotion Fund.


About the keynote speakers:

Dr John (Jack) Saddler is the endowed Professor of Forest Products Biotechnology and Bioenergy at the University of British Columbia.

As a senior and seasoned research scientist, Dr Saddler has been involved for more than 30 years in various national and international organizations that have advanced the global understanding of how woody biomass can be converted to useful fuels and chemicals.

Dr Saddler has published more than 300 papers, several books, holds several patents and is a regular advisor for agencies such as the US Department of Energy, USDA, NSERC and World Bank.

James D. (Jim) McMillan is the group manager for Biochemical Refining Process R&D in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Bioenergy Center, Colorado, USA.

He co-leads, with Jack Saddler, the International Energy Agency’s Bioenergy Task 39 - a group of international experts working to commercialise sustainable transportation biofuels.

Claus Felby is Professor of Biomass and Bioenergy at University of Copenhagen. He has worked with biomass and biotechnology for more than 15 years within both private industry and academia. He has extensive knowledge within basic and applied biomass science and has coordinated and managed national (within Denmark) and international projects within the area. Currently he is heading the Fuel for Life strategic research area on bioenergy at the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen.