2014 Group photo of CenSURF members and affiliates

Group photo of CenSURF members and affiliates at 2014 annual meeting

Prof. Zeng and Marco

CenSURF graduate student Marco Lam with CenSURF associate, Professor Zeng and his research group in Beijing

Jason Speaking at 2014 Annual Meeting

CenSURF graduate student, Jason Tilman, presenting at the 2014 annual meeting

CenSURF graduate students Zach Jones and Chris Bernt presenting their poster at the fall 2014 ACS meeting in San Francisco


Participants at CenSURF's outreach activity at BASF


CenSURF students and senior investigators sharing ideas during Marcus Foston's visit to UCSB

2013 Annual Meeting

Group photo of CenSURF members and affiliates at 2013 annual meeting


CenSURF investigators and visitor Bassam Shakhashiri


Image Courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy.

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CenSURF: Improving the Sustainability of the Chemical Enterprise

The CenSURF Mission: To facilitate transformative research through the target-driven utilization of lignin residuals as feedstocks for the production of value-added chemicals, and to do so with minimal environmental impact while preserving rescources for future generations.

Our Strategy: To valorize lignin through complementary studies on its disassembly into tractable monomers and larger oligomers (Theme 1), and the redox processing of these intermediates into higher-value chamicals (Theme 2). Electron and atom economy will be achieved by suitably pairing oxidative and reductive pathways (Theme 3).

Research Foci: The Center for the Sustainable Use of Renewable Feedstocks (CenSURF) addresses the challenge of developing the renewable resources, in particular carbon dioxide and lignocellulosic biomass, as alternative feedstocks to petrochemicals. Advancing such science and technology for their industrial utilization represent major milestones in sustainable chemistry. CenSURF researchers from UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, UC Davis, Washington University, St. Louis, and Indiana University are investigating:

  • Selective disassembly of lignin to give versatile platform chemicals using heterogenous copper-based and biological catalysts.
  • Oxidative processing of the lignin disassembly products coupled with catalytic carbon dioxide reduction to maximize overall electron and atom economy.

CenSURF's emphasis is on developing catalysts based only on Earth-abundant elements. This will ensure that processes are scalable and will preserve precious metals and other rare elements for use by future generations.

Education and Outreach Goals: CenSURF is educating graduate and undergraduate students in the principles and practices of chemical sustainability, while providing an incubator for innovation. We have also developed educational and outreach materials that are disseminated through K-12 schools and to the general public, via participation at national scientific meetings (e.g. AAAS and ACS), materials for primary and secondary school educators, and in the educational component of zoos throughout the US.

Our Support: CenSURF is a Phase I NSF Center for Chemical Innovation (CCI), funded by the NSF Division of Chemistry (CHE) since September 2012.

Questions about CenSURF?

Please contact one of our Directors:

Peter C. Ford, Director
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Susannah Scott, co-Director
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,
Department of Chemical Engineering

Petra van Koppen, co-Director
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9510