University of California, Riverside

Center for Environmental Research & Technology

Charles Cai

Assistant Research Engineer & Assistant Adjunct ProfessorCharles

Charles Cai is an Assistant Research Engineer at CE-CERT and Assistant Adjunct Professor of Chemical & Environmental Engineering at UC Riverside. He is currently devoted to developing novel biofuels technologies to convert plant biomass into renewable chemicals and liquid transportation fuels. His research focuses on the biological and catalytic processing of agricultural and forestry waste products, also known as lignocellulosic biomass, that don't compete with our food crops so that the production of next generation advanced biofuels can be an environmentally sustainable process. He is also responsible for creating and advancing the CELF process, one of the most promising new biomass conversion technologies, to enable affordable community scale production of power and liquid fuels. Charles received his Ph.D in Chemical and Environmental Engineering at UC Riverside and his B.S. in Biochemical Engineering at UC Davis.

Undergraduate Teaching: 

CHE114 Fluid Mechanics, CHE160A Fluid Mechanics Lab, CHE160B Transport and Reactions Lab 

Peer Reviewed Publications

** Original publications highlighting CELF technology

  • Mosofian B., Cai C.M., Smith M.D., Petredis L, Cheng X., Wyman C.E., Smith J. 2016. “Local Phase Separation Enhances Pretreatment of Biomass for Bioenergy Applications”. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 138 (34), pp 10869–10878 [Link]
  • Nguyen T.Y., Cai C.M., Kumar R., Wyman C.E. 2015. “CELF Pretreatment of Corn Stover Boosts Ethanol Titers and Yields from High Solids SSF with Low Enzyme Loadings,” Green Chemistry18, 1581-1589 [Link]. 
  • Smith M.D., Mostofian B., Cheng X., Petridis L., Cai C.M., Wyman C.E., Smith J.C. 2015. “Cosolvent pretreatment in cellulosic biofuel production: effect of tetrahydrofuran-water on lignin structure and dynamics,” Green Chemistry18, 1268-1277 [Link].
  • **Nguyen T.Y. and Cai C.M., Kumar R., Wyman C.E. 2015. “THF Co-Solvent Pretreatment Achieves Unprecedented Total Sugar Recovery and Ethanol Yields from Lignocellulosic Biomass at Low Enzyme Loadings,” ChemSusChem, 8, 1716–1725 [Link].
      1. Paper highlighted by and Biomass Magazine and Bioenergy Connection Magazine
  • **Cai C.M., Nagane N, Kumar R, Wyman CE. 2014. "Coupling Metal Halides with a Green Co-Solvent to Produce Furfural and 5-HMF at High Yields Directly from Lignocellulosic Biomass as an Integrated Biofuels Strategy," Green Chemistry, 16, 3819-3829. [Link]. 
      1. Paper highlighed by and Science Daily and Greencar Congress
  • **Cai C.M., Zhang T, Kumar R, Wyman CE. 2013. "THF Co-solvent Enhances Hydrocarbon Fuel Precursor Yields from Lignocellulosic Biomass”. Green Chemistry, 15, 3140-3145. [Link].           
      1. Paper highlighted by RSC publishing and was granted 4 weeks of open-access [Link] and received title of Hot Paper from Green Chemistry [Link]
  • Cai CM, Zhang T, Kumar R, and Wyman CE. 2013. “Integrated Furfural Production as a Renewable Fuel and Chemical Platform From Lignocellulosic Biomass," Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, 89(1), 2-10 (Invited Paper). [Link].
      1. Paper highlighted by publisher as a notable review in 2014 [Link]


More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Center Information

Center for Environmental Research & Technology
1084 Columbia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92507
Directions to CERT

Tel: (951) 781-5791
Fax: (951) 781-5790

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