Department of Biological Systems Engineering
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)
PH: +1 (540) 231-7417
Fax: +1 (540) 231-3199
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Dr. Yi-Heng Percival Zhang is an associate professor in the Department of Biological
Systems Engineering of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia
Tech). Also, he is an affiliated investigator of the DOE BioEnergy Science Center
(BSEC). Now he is also a cofounder and Chief Scientific Officer of Gate Fuels
Prior to joining Virginia Tech, he was a research scientist, postdoc associate,
Ph.D. student at Dartmouth College, working with a biofuel pioneer - Prof.
Lee R. Lynd, for validating feasibility of consolidated bioprocessing (CBP).
He received his bachelor and master degrees in Biochemical Engineering Department
of East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai, China. His master
thesis advisors are Profs. Jian-Jiang Zhong and Jun-Tang Yu.
His research interests include (1) cost-effective release of fermentable sugars
from non-food biomass through lignocellulose fractionation and cellulase engineering,
(2) highest-efficiency conversion of sugars to 2nd liquid biofuels (e.g., ethanol
and hydrocarbons) and 3rd generation biofuels (e.g., hydrogen and electricity)
through cell-free synthetic pathway biotransformation (SyPaB), (3) CO2 utilization
through artificial photosynthesis for production of food, feed, biofuels, electricity
storage compound, and high density hydrogen carrier, and (4) energy efficiency
analysis for energy conversion and generation. Furthermore, he has advocated
sugar-hydrogen-fuel cell vehicles (Crazy Idea of Year 2006, by Esquire magazine)
and the carbon-neutral carbohydrate economy.
He is a pioneer in cell-free synthetic biology. His breakthrough of the highest
yield hydrogen production from biomass sugars has been highlighted by the Royal
Society of the UK as "the beginning stage of a cheap, green and high-yield
hydrogen production". These chemical reactions can generate chemical energy
(hydrogen) output 22% more than input by absorbing useless ambient-temperature
thermal energy for the first time. Also, he has invented the lowest cost biohydrogenation
technology and designed the highest energy efficiency (artificial) photosynthesis
for producing sugars from CO2.
He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed journal papers, 10 book chapters,
and filed 15 patents disclosures. Four of the patent disclosures have been licensed
to two biofuels/biotechnology companies - Mascoma (USA) and Biomethodes
(French); five are on an option-to-license stage. He has received several distinctions,
such as Biotechnology and Bioengineering Daniel IC Wang Award (2010), Sunkist
Young Designer Award (2009), BP young scientist Award (2008), Dupont Young Faculty
Award (2008), Air Force Young Investigator Award (2007), ACS PRF New Faculty
Award (2006), Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award (2005), to name