Biobased Products

Bioproducts research at RBI builds on decades of experience collaborating with pulp and paper manufacturers – extending today into a broad array of industries interested in creating value from forest and agricultural materials. The spectrum of bioproducts research at RBI spans operational excellence of existing pulp and paper manufacturing assets to creating new products. RBI is helping companies become more efficient and cost effective in their operations – and develop value added products for the future.

Manufactuing process showing a conveyor belt moving biobased pellets

Biobased Materials


RBI works with a diverse portfolio of industry to understand challenges and engineer more sustainable solutions using bio-based materials. For example, RBI is positioned to support industry pursuing higher performing functional packaging to address consumer expectations and evolving societal needs. We value our industry partners to inform fundamental research directions and help realize the untapped potential of bio-based materials.

Our current research focuses on cellulosic nanomaterials derived from natural resources that can be used alone or in combination with other materials. Bioproducts under development include composite materials, low-cost carbon fibers, barrier films, aerogels, materials for 3-D printing and coatings. Beyond bioproducts, we are examining how the inclusion of bio-based materials can be a platform for tailoring product performance.

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Value-added Chemicals


At RBI, we are developing new process technologies to improve the production of value-added chemicals from biomass. We are working along the value chain from the initial conversion of woody plant material into fiber, cellulose components and lignin, and into common precursor molecules such as lignin monomers and sugars. Our faculty is working on technology and economic innovations in chemical catalysis, biocatalyst engineering, biological engineering, fermentation and downstream processes to upgrade the precursors molecules into biofuels, commodity chemicals, polymer monomers and pharmaceuticals.

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Key Contacts

For more information on RBI’s initiatives on Bio-based Products, and how to get involved, please contact one of our initiative leads working in the area.

Portrait of Matthew Realff

Matthew Realff

Professor and David I.J. Wang Faculty Fellow, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

RBI Initiative Lead: Next Generation Refinery


Portrait of Zhaohui (Julene) Tong

Zhaohui (Julene) Tong

Associate Professor, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 

RBI Initiative Lead: Waste Valorization in Food-Energy-Water
Portrait of Valerie Thomas

Valerie Thomas

Anderson-Interface Chair of Natural Systems Professor, School of Industrial and Systems Engineering

RBI Initiative Lead: Sustainability Analysis


Portrait of Andreas Bommarius

Andy Bommarius

Professor, Clifford W. Rackley Faculty Fellow, and Nobles Family Faculty Fellow, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 

RBI Initiative Lead: Renewable-based Economy from WOOD (ReWOOD)