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Chemical Engineering Research Seminar
Dr. Yuan Yao
Circular bioeconomy is an emerging concept to support the utilization of dedicated and waste biomass. In the forest sector, excessive woody biomass poses challenges to managing resources, disturbances, and forest carbon. Converting waste woody biomass into valuable products is a promising solution. Systems analysis tools such as life cycle assessment (LCA) have been widely used to quantify the potential environmental implications of bio-based materials. However, due to the limited capability of LCA in modeling dynamic systems, previous studies have rarely explored the spatial and temporal dynamics of forest ecosystems, biomass conversion, and supply chains, which are critical to region-specific and timely decision-making for waste biomass utilization and climate policies. The talk will present dynamic, multi-scale, life cycle systems modeling frameworks to address these research challenges. These frameworks integrate consequential LCA with chemical engineering simulations, machine learning, systems dynamics, techno-economic analysis, and economic-ecological modeling. These frameworks have been applied to pathways producing biochar, biofuels, wood-based materials and products in different regions. The talk will demonstrate how the integrated life cycle systems frameworks will advance the knowledge of the interlinked forest and industrial systems at different geospatial and temporal scales. The talk will also discuss how the frameworks can support the design and optimization of a sustainable bioeconomy based on circular forest resource utilization.
Dr. Yuan Yao is an Assistant Professor of Industrial Ecology and Sustainable Systems, and Chemical & Environmental Engineering at Yale University. She received her PhD degree in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University in the United States and a BS degree in Metallurgical Engineering from Northeastern University in China. Her research focuses on understanding the potential environmental impacts of emerging technologies and biomass utilization. Dr. Yao received many awards, including U.S. National Science Foundation CAREER Award, 35 Under 35 Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the Laudise Medal from the International Society of Industrial Ecology. Yao serves as the associate editor for the journal Resources, Conservation & Recycling. She also served on the Technical Advisory Group for LEAP Partnership in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the provisional committee for the National Academies to assess the current life cycle analysis methods of low-carbon fuels in the United States.
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