Bruce Dale Tapped Twice for Bioenergy Expertise

August 20, 2010

Adding to numerous honors received over the past 30-plus years of his career, Bruce Dale, MSU chemical engineering and materials professor and internationally known leader in exploring alternatives to fossil fuels, was recently asked to lend his expertise to two high-level efforts aimed at advancing renewable energy technologies.

Dale was invited to serve as an expert reviewer for the draft International Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources, an 11-chapter document that addresses various renewable energy technologies and their contributions to lessening the effects of climate change. Dale, who was one of eight reviewers to submit comments on the bioenergy chapter (Ch. 2), found the report’s findings in this area quite favorable.

“World energy use is about 500 exajoules annually [one exajoule is equivalent to the amount of energy produced by 160 million barrels of oil]; that’s a very large amount of energy,” Dale said. “What the report says in its current draft state, and what I think it will say when it comes out later this fall in final form, is that bioenergy has the capacity to meet a very large fraction of that 500 exajoule demand in a climate-friendly way. I think people are always concerned about whether there is enough land to generate energy as well as food and fiber. This report says yes, there is. I strongly agree with that finding.”

Dale was also confirmed as a member of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The committee, which was established by congressional action, will give advice to the DOE and the USDA about how to structure their bioenergy research and development portfolios. Dale’s appointment extends through 2012 and is renewable for another term.

Dale said that participating at this level gives him the opportunity to help guide national policy on and funding for bioenergy, and to inform the committee about research that MSU does in this area.

“It’s a ’virtuous circle’ of feedback,” Dale said. “We have many really good people at MSU working on various aspects of bioenergy. Participating on this committee not only allows me to reflect to the committee the relevant work that we’re doing at MSU, which can then be factored into the committee’s recommendations, but provides a way for me to communicate to my colleagues what the emerging research priorities of DOE and the USDA are so that we can prepare and act appropriately.”

-- Val Osowski