West Biofuels Woodland Development Center

Our Woodland Development Center is one of North America's leading thermochemical biomass technology development facilities. Home to a 6 ton per day pre-commercial pilot-scale Fast Internally Circulating Fluidized Bed (FICFB) gasification system, and a 12 ton per day commercial-scale CircleDraft gasification system, the WBRC offers a unique ability for research team to utilize real-world syngas to advance innovative technologies through bench and lab-scale systems with real biomass-derived syngas. The WBRC maintains an onsite laboratory including equipment and facilities for feedstock and syngas testing. West Biofuels invites research teams to collaborate at their facilities to continue to advance the state of biomass gasification technology and the conversion of organics to higher value fuels and chemicals.

Project Development Team

Our team will help you design and install a world-class solution
Peter Paul
Chief Executive Officer

The West Biofuels team is led by successful financier, Peter T. Paul, who brings his experience and success in the financial world to the problem of renewable energy development. In addition to being the CEO of West Biofuels, Mr. Paul is president of Headlands Asset Management, LLC, a financial company founded in 2007 in San Rafael, California and owner of Peter Paul Wines based in Healdsburg, California. Mr. Paul is also chairs The Headlands Foundation, a nonprofit organization he founded in 1995 that focuses on supporting local organizations and worthwhile causes that make life better for children and their families.

Prior to the formation of Headlands Asset Management, Paul was president of Headlands Mortgage Company, a premier wholesale lending institution in the country, specializing in originating, selling, securitizing and servicing residential mortgage loan products. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from Boston University. Mr. Paul currently serves on the Board of Directors of the UNH Foundation and is a trustee of Boston University.

Matthew Summers
Chief Operating Officer

Dr. Matthew Summers leads the technical development and research operations of West Biofuels. Dr. Summers has managed the planning, engineering, and construction of Woodland Biomass Research Center. He supervises numerous staff and contractors and all aspects of technology development of the West Biofuels advanced reforming system. Dr. Summers has many years of experience as a technical consultant on the engineering, economic and environmental performance of biomass-to-energy technologies.

Dr. Summers has earned the Ph. D. in Biological Systems Engineering from University of California, Davis and holds a M. S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. He is a recognized expert in energy conversion and holds several patents and has authored numerous reports on the subject of biomass-to-energy development, biomass and synthesis gas conversion technologies, emissions controls, and engineering design.

Brandon Bruning
Director of Manufacturing

Brandon Bruning manages the pilot plant operations at the Woodland Biomass Research Center. Mr. Bruning brings to West Biofuels many years of experience in design, fabrication, and operations of industrial equipment. He is responsible for the fabrication of all major equipment developed for the West Biofuels pilot facilities. His duties include management of staff working in the pilot plant and contractors used in the development process.

Mr. Bruning has formal training in manufacturing engineering and holds a professional welding certification. He formerly developed equipment for the log home manufacturing industry in Idaho.

Chang-Hsien Liao
Director of Research

Dr.Chang-hsien (Jim) Liao conducts technology research and data analysis at the Woodland Biomass Research Center.  Dr Liao is in charge of system efficiency analysis, thermal-fluid system design, biomass characteristics analysis, and automatic system control for research projects at the research center. Dr. Liao's research focuses on hydrocarbon fuel processing technology and renewable energy technology.  Dr. Liao is specialized in biomass gasification/carbonization system, hydrocarbon-fuel reforming process on hydrogen production system, and fixed bed/fluidized bed thermal-chemical reactor system.
Dr Liao graduated from Physics Department of Fu-jenCatholic University in Taiwan, and holds a master of science degree in physics from National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan. Dr. Liao obtained his PhD degree from University of California at Davis inMechanical & Aeronautical Engineering and is a licensed PE in California

Matthew Hoffman
Staff Engineer

Matt Hoffman performs design work and project management tasks in addition to instrumentation,control and mechanical design.  Mr. Hoffman has an extensive industry background in instrumentation, control systems and automation. Mr. Hoffman, having experience gained in the petroleum testing industry,  is skilled in high pressure, high temperature, flammable/hazardous piping and systems design.
Mr. Hoffman has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics from MSU in Denver, Colorado.

Robert Cattolica
Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

The primary architect of the cooperative collaboration between the University of California and West Biofuels is Prof. Robert Cattolica.  Dr. Cattolica is Professor of Engineering Physics Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Associate Director of the Jacobs Schools' Center for Energy Research at the University of California, San Diego.  He is a renowned expert in laser and electron beam spectroscopic diagnostics and application of these measurement technologies to combustion, gasification, and gas reforming.

Prof. Cattolica has received numerous awards and honors throughout his research and teaching career.  He earned his Ph. D. in Engineering Sciences in 1972, his M.S in Mechanical Engineering in 1968, and his B.S. (Highest Honors) in Mechanical Engineering all from the University of California at Berkeley.

Reinhard Seiser
Lead Research Scientist

Dr. Reinhard Seiser conducts research on gasification and combustion of biofuels at the Woodland Biomass Research Center.  He also sets up diagnostic systems and instruments for monitoring combustion, gasification, and synthesis reactions at the center. After his graduation, Dr. Seiser joined UCSD as a Postgraduate Researcher and in 2001 as Assistant Project Scientist. During this time he worked on various combustion problems including liquid, gaseous fuels, and solid and gaseous extinguishing agents. He designed several experimental setups for measuring ignition, extinction, and pollutant species in laminar flames. Dr. Seiser’s contributions to the scientific community include numerous experimental data on premixed and non-premixed flames, which have been used to improve chemical-kinetic models of hydrocarbon fuels. Further, the interaction of flow and chemistry has been a centerpiece of his research, and his publications have explained the influence of strain on ignition and partially premixing on extinction of flames.

Dr. Seiser received his MS in Chemical Engineering from the Technical University Graz, Austria, in 1995. His thesis and work projects related to the analysis and layout of a commercial fluidized bed dryer and a biomass combustion facility. In 2000, Dr. Seiser graduated with a Doctoral Degree in Chemical Engineering with highest honors from the Technical University Graz.

Michael Long
Research Scientist

Michael Long is working towards his PhD in Biological Systems Engineering under the Biological and Agricultural Engineering program as a graduate student at the University of California, Davis. His research experiences cover a wide range of topics including biodiesel, algae biofuels, fermentation, thermochemical, and chemical processes technologies. In his work with the Woodland Biomass Research Center, he focuses on development on fluidized bed catalysis systems while also providing expertise and insights into an array of development issues including tar and sulfur sampling,analytics development, and bed agglomerations in thermochemical systems. His work on catalyzed fluidized beds aims to improve the economics and sustainability of synthesis and reforming systems through process intensifications such as fluidized bed methanation of CO and CO2.