Circular Bioeconomy Systems

The University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute launched its circular bioeconomy systems Convergent Research Initiative (CRI) in 2024. Over the next five years, UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will invest $20 million to accelerate world-leading innovation and establish UT and ORNL as national leaders in this important joint area of research.

Leveraging the strengths of ORNL and the UT Institute of Agriculture’s long-established work across the state of Tennessee, UT-ORII’s new circular bioeconomy systems CRI team is partnering with two crucial Tennessee industries: auto manufacturing and agriculture/forestry to create a circular bioeconomy systems testbed.

The group aims to use emerging science to produce materials from sustainable carbon sources, pioneering the shift toward low-energy and low-carbon-intensity circular agriculture, and manufacturing.

Erin Webb, lead for ORNL’s Bioresource Science and Engineering group and laboratory relationship manager for the DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office

Niki Labbe, professor and assistant director of the UT Institute of Agriculture’s Center for Renewable Carbon

Gerald Tuskan, director of the Department of Energy’s Center for Bioenergy Innovation at ORNL

Alexei Sokolov, UT-ORNL’s Governor’s Chair for Polymer Science