The Chemical Sciences Roundtable (CSR) was established in 1997 by the National Research Council. It provides a science-oriented apolitical forum for leaders in the chemical sciences to discuss chemistry-related issues affecting government, industry, and universities. Organized by the National Research Council’s Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology, the CSR aims to strengthen the chemical sciences by fostering communication among the people and organizations—spanning industry, government, universities, and professional associations—involved with the chemical enterprise. One way it does this is by organizing workshops that address issues in chemical science and technology that require national or more widespread attention.

On May 31, 2012, the CSR held a one-day workshop that explored the current state of sustainable fuels and chemicals, and the issues surrounding their scalability for large-scale use. The workshop will also discussed the chemistry and chemical engineering opportunities to sustainably produce large-scale quantities of biofuel.

The workshop featured both formal presentations and working group deliberations in an effort to stimulate engaging discussions among participants from widely varying fields. Key questions that the participants were asked to address included:

  • What is the current state of technology in large-scale production of sustainable fuels and chemicals?
  • What are the benefits and weaknesses of current technologies?
  • What are the technological and commercial barriers to scaling sustainable technologies?
  • How can we best combine chemical technologies of different scales to maximize impact?
  • How can we identify ways in which chemical technologies of different practical scales can complement each other?

This document summarizes the presentations and discussions that took place at the workshop. In accordance with the policies of the CSR, the workshop did not attempt to establish any conclusions or recommendations about needs and future directions, focusing instead on issues identified by the speakers and workshop participants. In addition, the organizing committee’s role was limited to planning the workshop. The workshop summary has been prepared by the workshop rapporteurs, Sheena Siddiqui, Douglas Friedman, and Joe Alper, as a factual summary of what occurred at the workshop.


The Internet information provided in this Summary was correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of publication. It is important to remember, however, the dynamic nature of the Internet. Information on websites can be transient, and is not always validated or verifiable. Resources that are free and publicly available one day may require a fee or restrict access the next, and the location of items may change as menus and homepages are reorganized.