PULLMAN – Shulin Chen, professor in biological systems engineering at WSU, will present “Biofuels from Biomass,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, in Smith CUE 202. The lecture is part of the Common Reading Program and is free and open to the public.

The use of biofuels to quench America’s thirst for energy has become a hot topic as the country seeks to combat rising energy costs; biomass as a means to acquire these fuels is at the forefront of the debate.

Chen’s lecture will discuss the various types of biomass, defined as plant materials and animal waste used as fuel, and their uses as alternative energy sources. Unlike its competitors, biomass is theoretically inexhaustible, has minimal environmental impact and is widely available.

As the leader of the Bioprocessing & Bioproducts Engineering Laboratory (BBEL), Chen focuses on developing bioconversion and systems for the production of bioethanol, biogas, biodiesel, biochemicals and nutraceuticals. He and his team have developed new technologies and published numerous articles on these topics.

Since 2007, the WSU Common Reading Program has introduced first-year students to the intellectual life of the university and exposed them to the value of research and the power of ideas. This year’s book is “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” by best-selling author Michael Pollan, who visited campus in January. Focusing broadly on the topic of “food,” more than 5,000 copies of the book were distributed to use in classes.

Common Reading Tuesdays is a lecture series that invites professors and researchers from all fields at WSU to connect their research, field, or experience with freshmen and the issues raised in their common reading book.