Center for Digital Agriculture

INFEWS and Circular Bioeconomy Systems Workshop

July 24–26, 2024 • iHotel and Illinois Conference Center • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Workshop Overview

In response to the complex challenges within the nexus of food, energy, water systems and circular bioeconomy, tremendous effort has been made by National Science Foundation via its INFEWS (Innovative Nexus for Food, Energy and Water Systems) program, and other federal agencies (such as USDA) and professional societies (such as ASABE) in the past decade. This workshop is envisioned as a comprehensive summary event to bring together researchers and scientists involved in INFEWS projects to share the findings and insights on energy, food, water, and the circular bioeconomy.

This interdisciplinary workshop will facilitate knowledge sharing, collaboration, and dialogue to identify key research gaps, priorities, and solutions for promoting circularity and sustainability. Through presentations, discussion and networking opportunities, participants will collectively address pressing challenges and advance research efforts aimed at enhancing the resilience and sustainability of agriculture and food systems.

Illustration of a paradigm of environment-enhancing energy (E2E) and circular bioeconomy by converting biowaste (food waste, algal bloom, and sewage sludge) via hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) into biocrude; the biocrude is then upgraded into transportation fuels and bio-binder for asphalt; nutrients in the post-hydrothermal wastewater (PHW) are recovered and reused for biomass production.

Registration Form

Agenda

TIME (CST)
AGENDA

Wednesday, July 24 

3:00 p.m.

Check-In to iHotel and Workshop Registration 

5:30 p.m.

Welcome Reception

Thursday, July 25 

7:45 a.m.

Registration & Light Refreshments

8:15 a.m.

Welcome and Introduction
  • Call for order by Yuanhui Zhang and Ximing Cai (Workshop Co-chairs)
  • Welcome address by UIUC leadership
  • Setting up the Stage (Workshop Introduction and Agenda)

8:40 – 10:10 a.m. 

Keynote Presentations + Q&A

Facilitator: Dr. Ximing Cai, Ben Chie Yen Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Transforming Food and Agriculture to Circular Bioeconomy Systems 

Dr. James Jones, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Florida

Advancing Source Separation through Nutrient Efficiency for Sustainable Transitions: Turning waste flows into an ASSET

Dr. Nancy Love, Borchardt And Glysson Collegiate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

10:10 a.m.

Coffee Break

10:15 a.m. – Noon

INFEWS Lightning Talks: Sessions 1 & 2

Each talk will be 15 minutes including Q&A.

Facilitator: Dr. John Reid, Research Professor of Computer Science/Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and Executive Director of the Center for Digital Agriculture, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 

Session 1: Food – Production, Security, Safety, and Social Acceptance
Advancing Circular Food Systems: Emerging Technologies for Food Waste Reduction and Energy Efficiency

Dr. Amir Malvandi, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Shifting Trade from Feed to Food Reduces Agricultural Nitrogen Loss and GHG Emissions in the U.S. and China

Yanyu Wang, PhD Student, Center for Environmental Sciences, University of Maryland

An Economic Perspective of the Circular Bioeconomy in the Food and Agricultural Sector

Dr. Madhu Khanna, Alvin H. Baum Family Fund Chair Professor, Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Session 2: Energy – Bioenergy, Renewable Energy, Efficiency, and Security
Converting Algal Resources into Materials for the Bioeconomy

Dr. Peter Valdez, Process Analyst, Energy and Environment Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)

Nano Catalysis in Carbon Capture and Bioenergy Conversion

Dr. Hong Yang, Richard C. Alkire Chair Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Converting Food Waste into Sustainable Aviation Fuel via Hydrothermal Liquefaction and Catalytic Upgrading

Sabrina Summers, PhD student & NSF Fellow, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

12:00 p.m.

Lunch

1:00 p.m

Panel Discussion – INFEWS

Facilitator: Dr. Phillip Savage, Walter L. Robb Family Professor and Head, Chemical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University

2:00 – 3:40 p.m.

INFEWS Lighting Talks: Sessions 3 & 4

Each talk will be 15 minutes including Q&A.

Facilitator: Dr. Ximing Cai, Ben Chie Yen Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Session 3: Water Resources
Wastewater Treatment and Reuse for Hydroponic Crop Production

Dr. Paul Davidson, Associate Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Optimizing the Groundwater-Food-Energy Nexus under Water Pricing Reform: Evidence from the Haihe River Basin in Northern China

Dr. Xialin Wang, Postdoc researcher, Advanced Agricultural Sciences, Peking University, China

Integrated Agricultural Practices and Engineering Technologies Enhance Synergies of Food-Energy-Water Systems in Corn Belt Watersheds

Dr. Ximing Cai, Ben Chie Yen Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Session 4: Circular Bioeconomy Systems
Engineering Biocatalysts for Waste Valorization: Cases of Plastic Depolymerization and Phosphorus Recovery

Dr. Na Wei, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Food Waste-Derived Bio-Asphalt: A Roadmap for Heavy Fraction Use from Bio-Crude Oil

Dr. Ramez Hajj, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Method to Quantify a Circular Bioeconomy System

Dr. Yuanhui Zhang, Founder Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

3:40 p.m.

Coffee Break

3:45 p.m

Panel Discussion – CBS

Facilitators: Dr. John Reid, Research Professor of Computer Science/Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and Executive Director of the Center for Digital Agriculture, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; and Dr. Victoria Finkenstadt, National Program Leader, Division of Agricultural Systems, USDA

4:45 p.m

Summary of the Day

5:00 p.m.

Adjourn

6:30 p.m.

Dinner @ iHotel

Friday, July 26

7:45 a.m

Light Refreshments

8:15 – 9:45 a.m 

Keynote Presentations

Each presentation will be 45 minutes including Q&A.

Facilitator: Dr. Yuanhui Zhang, Founder Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Advances in Hydrothermal Liquefaction of Biomass

Dr. Phillip Savage, Walter L. Robb Family Professor and Head of Chemical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University

Towards Biobased Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Dr. Joshua Heyne, Co-director, WSU-PNNL Bioproducts Institute (BIO-IN) Washington State University/PNNL

9:45 a.m

Breakout Introduction – Setting up the Stage

Dr. KC Ting, Professor and Head Emeritus, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

  • Attendees will be pre-assigned to one of the four Breakout Groups.
  • A facilitator/reporter and a recorder will be pre-appointed for the four Breakout Groups
  • Each Breakout Group will be gathered in one separate space in the large conference room.
  • Ideally, each Breakout Group will have a computer, projector, and projection screen. Alternatively, each Breakout Group will receive easel stands, poster paper, and markers.
  • If the physical resources are limited, the Breakout Sessions can be conducted with all attendees in one big room (i.e., without dividing the attendees into separate Break Groups). In this case, the time allocations for the Breakout Sessions and Report-Back Activities can be adjusted to give more time for the Breakout Sessions and less time for the Report-Back activities.
  • A PowerPoint tool is provided to assist the Breakout Group Facilitators/Reporters in facilitating the Breakout Sessions and reporting back the outcomes, as well as to assist Recorders in capturing the inputs from the Breakout Group members during the Breakout Sessions.

10:00 a.m.

Coffee Break

10:15 a.m

Breakout Session I 

Four Breakout Groups (A, B, C, and D) will brainstorm the answers to the question:

“What might be the challenges/top challenges, and potential opportunities/high potential opportunities in improving circularity of bioeconomy systems using INFEWS concepts, approaches, and methodologies?” 

10:55 a.m

Breakout Session II

Four Breakout Groups (A, B, C, and D) will brainstorm the answers to the question:

“What might be the high-impact short-term and long-term actions in realizing the high potential opportunities identified in Breakout Session 1?”

11:35 a.m

Report Back

10 minutes for each of the four Breakout Groups, including Q&A.

Facilitators: Dr. KC Ting, Professor and Head Emeritus, Agricultural & Biological Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

12:15 p.m.

Lunch

1:15 p.m

Site Visits

Starting from the I-Hotel, the bus will leave from the front door (west side of the I-Hotel). They may be grouped if there are more than 20 people.

  • Energy Farm (Lead — Tim Mies, Manager, UIUC Energy Farm)
  • HTL Pilot Reactor and Upgrading Research Lab (Lead – Yuanhui Zhang)
  • Integrated Bioprocessing Research Lab (IBRL) (Lead – Brian Jacobson, Manager)  

4:30 p.m.

Adjourn

Workshop Venue, Lodging Options & Travel Info

Click on each tab below for more information on the workshop venue, lodging options, and how to get around the Champaign-Urbana area.

iHotel and Illinois Conference Center

 

Our workshop will be take place at the iHotel & Illinois Conference Center located at 1900 S 1st St, Champaign, IL 61820.

Where should I park?
The iHotel & Illinois Conference Center offers free onsite parking so you don’t need to worry about paying the meter or parking tickets.

🔗 Learn more about the venue

iHotel Room Block

For this workshop we have a dedicated room block with a special discounted rate of $179 USD/night at the iHotel (connected to the Illinois Conference Center). To claim this special rate, reservations must be made by June 24, 2024.

How claim this special rate and book a room

  • 🖥️ Online: Book your room by using this dedicated iHotel reservation link then input the following information in the appropriate fields:
    • Block Code: NSF2024
    • Guest Password: @5vZP
  • ☎️ By Phone: Call +12178195000 to talk with a representative and let them know you would like to book a room in block code NSF2024

 

If you would like alternative lodging. Below is a list of potential accommodations nearby:

Champaign-Urbana is easy to get to and navigate. Conveniently situated off three major interstates, we’re nearly equidistant from Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis. Transportation options include:

Our award-winning mass transit district will help get you around, as will our rentable bikes and e-bikes or walk-in our connected districts! We also have taxi cab services and ride-sharing services available.