CBE:5000 Graduate Seminar Series - Dr. Mark Mba Wright

Thursday, September 23, 2021, 11:00am to 12:15pm
Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories, 104
205 North Madison Street, Iowa City, IA 52245

Please join us as Associate Professor Mark Mba Wright presents Leveraging Iowa's Agriculture and Renewable Energy Resources for Carbon Removal.

Abstract: There is growing evidence that climate change has increased the frequency and severity of severe weather events. Scientists predicted that these series of unfortunate events would be the outcome of increasing global average temperatures above critical thresholds. There are now growing efforts to lower the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) by avoiding, capturing, or displacing fossil-based GHG emissions. This presentation will discuss the economic and environmental sustainability of clean energy technologies that leverage Iowa's leadership in agriculture and renewable energy systems. Negative emission technologies (NETs) are part of a portfolio of strategies to avoid GHG emissions and sequester carbon in agricultural lands. Our analysis indicates that strategic adoption of NETs could help meet climate change emission targets at lower costs than direct air capture systems while providing social and ecological community benefits.

Our research group is applying machine learning and optimization techniques to enhance our understanding of the costs and emissions of NETs. We employ machine learning to address the impacts of feedstock and process variability on process sustainability, and we are developing a framework to identify the optimal locations and allocation of energy resources in urban settings. Our long-term vision is to equip scientists, engineers, policymakers and the general public with knowledge and decision-making tools that will enhance our ability to adapt to future climatic events.  

Biography: Mark Mba Wright received his PhD in 2010 under the supervision of Prof. Robert Brown at Iowa State University (ISU) with specializations in Biorenewable Resources and Technology. He worked as a post-doctoral research associate in the Chemical Engineering Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the guidance of Yuriy Roman-Leshkov and William Green. Professor Wright joined the Iowa State University Mechanical Engineering Department as a faculty member in 2012 and is currently an associate professor 2018.

Professor Wright has devoted his career to the study of bioenergy with over 40 publications in the areas of techno-economic and life-cycle analysis of energy systems. His current research interests are in carbon negative energy technologies and their ability to utilize bio- and fossil-based carbon for fuel and chemical synthesis. Professor Wright’s research has been sponsored by Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-e), National Science Foundation (NSF), and other federal and private agencies. Professor Wright’s broader impact activities include serving as a member of the ISU George Washington Carver Faculty Council and as vice-president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Sustainable Engineering Forum.


Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Chemical and Biochemical Engineering in advance at 319-335-1400 or chemical-engineering@uiowa.edu.