Kat Knauer, Ph.D.
Program Manager - V Research, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
BIOGRAPHYDr. Kat Knauer is a polymer scientist who has dedicated her scientific career to solving the plastic waste problem. She has a PhD in Polymer Science and Engineering from the University of Southern Mississippi and completed the BASF PhD Leadership Development Program (LDP) in 2018 before taking a Senior Scientist role in BASF’s Plastics Division. Her research efforts focused on advanced recycling technologies which ultimately led her to leading Materials Innovation R&D at Novoloop (formerly BioCellection), a San Francisco Bay Area chemical recycling startup. Recently, Dr. Knauer joined the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Bio-Optimized Technologies to keep Thermoplastics our of Landfills and the Environment (BOTTLE) Consortium where she is developing sustainable technologies to chemically upcycle today’s existing plastic waste streams and develop new plastics for the future that are recyclable by design.
8:35 am - 10:05 am
Achieving Supply Chain Circularity
Supply chain sustainability is increasingly important for the future of business and the world as a whole. Globally, companies are looking at various initiatives when it comes to sustainability, including energy efficiency, product packaging, alternative fuels, optimized routes, and returns management. More recently, we have seen a push towards building a circular supply chain to eliminate waste and build a continual use of resources. Bio-Optimized Technologies to keep Thermoplastics out of Landfills and the Environment (BOTTLE™) is a U.S. Department of Energy multi-organization consortium focused on developing new upcycling strategies for today's plastics to achieve a circular plastics supply chain. BOTTLE is employing four major strategies to achieve this vision: 1) Conduct analysis driven research using techno-economic analysis and life-cycle analysis to identify optimum solutions; 2) Redefine circularity by implementing upcycling paradigms; 3) Breakdown the walls between mechanical, chemical, and biological processes and combine innovations to achieve the most efficient and economical pathways for waste management; and 4) Redesign plastics with built in recyclability.
8:30 am - 10:30 am
Redesigning Plastics to be Recyclable-by-Design
Bio-Optimized Technologies to keep Thermoplastics out of Landfills and the Environment (BOTTLE™) is a U.S. Department of Energy multi-organization consortium focused on developing new upcycling strategies for today's plastics and redesigning tomorrow’s plastic to be recyclable-by-design (RBD). The primary focus of the BOTTLE Redesign Task is to create tomorrow’s plastics to be RBD, economically viable, energy efficient, and derived from bio-based sources and today’s waste plastics. Working hand-in-hand with the modeling and analysis teams, we are actively developing a computational pipeline to predict RBD polymers with target thermal and mechanical properties. Using this "predictive redesign" approach, our goal is to develop RBD polymers that can replace today’s non-recyclable or hard-to-recycle commodity plastics. This talk will cover our flagship projects in prediction of RBD polymers, designer RBD Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), and circular polymers with both full chemical circularity and high performance.