World’s top experts on biofuels to gather in South Africa

Prof Emile van Zyl

Prof Emile van Zyl

Some of the world’s foremost experts on biofuels, including second and third-generation biofuel technologies, will gather in South Africa for the 20th International Symposium on Alcohol Fuels (ISAF).

Taking place from 25 to 27 March at Spier Wine Estate outside Stellenbosch, the conference will focus on the role that alcohol fuels can play in enhancing sustainable development. The ISAF was established in 1976 and aims to bring together specialists, technologists, executives and technical experts from the alcohol related and biofuel industries.

According to conference chair Prof Emile van Zyl, experts are working towards a new understanding of the role of biofuels in sustainable development. “We need a more integrated perspective of how bioenergy can create multiple synergies with, for example, agriculture and rural development.”

Prof Van Zyl heads the Department of Microbiology at Stellenbosch University and holds the Senior Chair of Energy Research in Biofuels, funded by the Department of Science and Technology.

Some of the prominent speakers are:

  • Dr Sergio Trindade, president of SE2T International, and globally recognised as an expert in sustainable development and biofuels. He will focus on the future of alcohol fuels in the context of climate change and sustainable mobility. Dr Trindade was one of the founding members of the ISAF meetings and is a co-laureate of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • Dr Ibrahim Mayaki is the chief executive officer of NEPAD and its new Planning and Coordination Agency (NPCA). He will give insights into the African vision and strategy on bioenergy development for the continent.
  • Dr James McMillan from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the United States will report on the status of cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels development in the US. He is also the incoming task leader for the International Energy Agency’s Task Group 39, a group of international experts working to commercialise sustainable transportation biofuels. The group’s technical business meeting will take place on 24 March 2013 at the Spier Estate.
  • Prof Carlos Cruz, scientific director at the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), will discuss some of the research and development challenges related to productivity and sustainability of bioenergy in Brazil.
  • Prof Lee Lynd at Dartmouth College (USA) will share findings from the Global Sustainable Bioenergy project on how distinctive opportunities exist to expand modern bioenergy in Africa in ways that enhance food security and economic well-being.
  • Prof David Chiaramonti from the University of Florence will report on the world’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant being built in Crescentino, Italy.
  • Mr Maurice Radebe, Sasol group executive: corporate affairs, will give an overview of the group’s research activities in the field of future fuels and a brief overview of Sasol’s expansion plans.

For more information about the conference or to set up interviews, contact Prof Emile van Zyl at

Issued by Wiida Fourie-Basson,, 021 808 2684