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Sustainable energy generation is seen as one of the largest challenges of our generation. The expectation is that there won't be a single solution and the Berkeley Lecture on Energy will discuss the different routes. This set of lectures is entitled Energy from Biomass, where the biomass is aimed to be a sustainable carbon neutral source of energy. 

Bioenergy research is highly interdisciplinary. It involves fundamental research and understanding of biology to ensure the most efficient plants are grown, the chemistry and engineering of converting biomass into fuels, and (bio)chemical engineering and synthetic biology to produce the fuels that meet the engine specifications of vehicles ranging from airplanes to cars. If this research will have impact on energy consumption, operation must be on a very large scale. This scale is so large that it creates additional constraints, like land use or the competition with food chains. 

Therefore the efficacy of bioenergy research is severely limited if the research cannot address its scale and impact on society:    

Scalability: Most of our research is carried out at the labscale. The scale of bioenergy implies, however, that ideas not only have to work at the lab scale but also have the potential to be employed at the gigaton level. 

Society: The scale at which biomass for energy is used will be so large that it will impact society. For example, the public may reject the most perfect technical solution simply because the biomass fields have the wrong color or smell. Research must be done to to address public perception of technology because these perceptions may determine the ultimate success of a project.  

UC Berkeley and LBNL have large research programs addressing the challenges of using biomass on global scales. The Berkeley Energy Lectures are aimed to introduce these research programs to undergraduate and graduate students in the Sciences and Engineering. Topics will include crop selection, converting biomass into fuels, life cycle engineering, and the economics of fuels. Through this series of lectures, students will learn about the state of the art science related to biomass conversion, and learn to develop, analyze, and compare various biomass conversion scenarios as part of a multidisciplinary team.

Lectures: Chris Somerville, Harvey Blanch, Douglas Clark, Alex Bell, Berend Smit (and others)

Lecture codes: 

WAITLIST: the waitlist will be cleared everyday, so if your course number is full, add your name to the waitlist and you will be enroled next day.

  • BIOENGINEERING: C181-Undergraduates (06683)/C281-Graduates 
  • CHEMICAL & BIOMOLECULAR ENGINEERING: C195A-Undergraduates (10582)/C295A-Graduates (10681)
  • CHEMISTRY: C138-Undergraduates (11726)/C238-Graduates (12737)
  • PLANT AND MICROBIAL BIOLOGY: C124-Undergraduates (70519 )/C224-Graduates ( 70861)


Fall 2012: 12:30-2:00pm Tuesdays and Thursdays (new location: 3 LeConte)

Fall 2013: 12:30-2:00pm Tuesdays and Thursdays (3 LeConte)

(These lectures are open for all upper division undergraduates in the Sciences and Engineering with sufficient background in Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics) 

This course is part of the Berkeley Energy and Climate Lectures