|Address:||G5703, 5/F, Yeung Kin Man Academic Building (YEUNG),
City University of Hong Kong,
Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry, Wesleyan University, US
Commodity chemicals don't grow on trees. Like most chemical transformations, biomass valorisation will inevitably generate byproducts; the resulting disposal would typically involve incineration or landfill, polluting and wasteful treatments. But many byproducts could be valuable if utilized efficiently. Assuming society wishes to maintain modern living standards and growth, and given the environment’s finite capacity to absorb such wastes, an integrated biorefinery approach that aims to valorise every bit of the renewable resources is imperative.
This talk covers my studies on conversion of biomass to liquid fuels, and my proposals to valorise chemical wastes for commodity chemical production using renewable energy. To alleviate fossil dependence and environmental pollution, processes will be designed to upgrade waste byproducts with benign reagents and in mild conditions. Besides unravelling the chemical details of these processes, I also plan to explore the health, environmental and economic benefits. I look forward to outlining my vision for a comprehensive research program that opens the next generation’s eyes to the need for creative use of renewable resources to achieve a sustainable future.
With interests in combatting climate change and environmental pollution, Dr. Lam’s research aims to mitigate global dependence on fossil resources by promoting the production of renewable chemicals. In his doctoral work at Michigan State University, Dr. Lam examined strategies to convert biomass into liquid fuels. As a Donnelley Postdoctoral Environmental Fellow at Yale University, he developed a protocol to convert crude glycerol, a biodiesel refinery waste product, into lactic acid, a building block for biodegradable plastics. In addition to biomass valorisation, Dr. Lam is interested in replacing harmful chemicals and hazardous processes with benign alternatives, and in promoting the use of recyclable or biodegradable materials that may be returned to nature with minimal or no post-treatment at the end of their useful lives.
Outside of lab work, Dr. Lam is an educator and an environment enthusiast. He has mentored numerous undergraduate researchers at MSU and Yale, as well as high school students in the MSU High School Honors Science Program (HSHSP). He has directed campus-wide recycling programs and co-hosted summer school programs on safer chemicals design. Dr. Lam has also been invited to design and teach an online certificate program on the practice of green chemistry to a diverse body of professional students in the University of Washington’s Continuing Education Programs. He is currently teaching at Wesleyan University, where he is designing and teaching the general and organic chemistry laboratory curriculum as a visiting assistant professor.