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Japanese Scientists Visit the Sustainable Biomaterials Department to Talk About the Bioconversion of Waste Lignin to Useful Products.

May 18, 2013 – Dr. Masaya Nakamura and Dr. Yuichiro Otsuka from the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute (FFPRI) in Tsukuba (Science City), Japan visited the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials April 19 – 23, and met with several faculty and students in the Department and across campus. Dr. Nakamura is Team Leader in the Department of Industrial Microbiology at the FFPRI and his colleague Dr. Otsuka is a Senior Researcher in the Department of Biomass Chemistry of FFPRI. Both focus on the bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass to produce new biobased polymers and energy. Dr. Otsuka gave a campus-wide seminar sponsored by Macromolecules and Interfaces Institute and ICTAS on a new method for bioconversion of waste lignin materials into a useful monomer. Yuichiro also showed how his lab was converting that monomer into a variety of useful bio-Polyetheylene, bio-Polyurethanes, and bio-Epoxy resins. The title of his talk was: “Production of 2-pyrone-4,6-dicarboxylic Acid as a Novel Polymer-Based Material From Low Molecular Weight Lignin by Metabolic Engineering of Microbial Functions”.

In addition to the discussion of scientific research and future collaborations Dr. Otsuka also spent time on a “scouting” trip to see the Blacksburg area and look at apartments, as he will return next Fall with his family for a one year sabbatical working with Professor Barry Goodell.



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