David R. Shonnard

David R. Shonnard


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  • Professor, Chemical Engineering
  • Richard and Bonnie Robbins Chair in Sustainable Materials
  • Director, Sustainable Futures Institute
  • PhD in Chemical Engineering, University of California, Davis (1991)
  • MS in Chemical Engineering, University of California, Davis (1985)
  • BS in Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno (1983)


My teaching interests are in chemical engineering transport / unit operations, advanced transport phenomena, biochemical processes, green engineering, and sustainable engineering.

Research interests are in the areas of sustainability of the chemical industry, environmental life-cycle assessments, environmental transport processes, and forest-based biofuel process technology development.

Life Cycle Assessment/Sustainability
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a method that allows for a comprehensive assessment of environmental impacts for a product or process. The scope of the assessment is over the entire life cycle; starting with extraction of raw materials from the environment manufacturing transportation use in society, recycle, reuse, and final treatment or disposal in the environment. Multiple indicators of environmental impacts are used; for example air greenhouse gasses, water emissions, toxicity, and resource consumption. The purpose of LCA is to compare alternative products or processes that meet the same function. An example might be alternative fuels to meet a specific transportation requirement (conventional gasoline versus ethanol). Studies conducted thus far include a comparison of regional cellulosic feedstocks for ethanol production, green jet from numerous plant oils, pyrolysis-based biofuels and biopower, and forest feedstock supply chain.

Bioprocess Engineering / Renewable Bio-Based Fuels
Research in these areas employ a range of conversion approaches, including molecular biology techniques for enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass and acid catalyzed hydrolysis of woody biomass.  Thermochemical process engineering includes micro pyrolysis and pilot-scale fast pyrolysis.  Biomass feedstocks include forest biomass, forest residuals, municipal solid waste,  forest products wastewater streams, energy crops (hybrid poplar, switchgrass, willow), and residuals from the agricultural sector (corn stover, cane bagasse, rice straw).

Links of Interest

Research Interests

  • Bioprocess engineering
  • Alternative energy/Biofuels
  • Sustainability