Kecheng Li

Photo of Kecheng Li
Kecheng Li
Chair and Professor
(269) 276-3500
(269) 276-3501
A-217 Floyd Hall, Mail Stop 5462
Mailing address: 
Chemical and Paper Engineering
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5462 USA
  • PhD (2003), Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, and the Pulp and Paper Centre, University of Toronto
  • BSc (1985), MSc (1988) in Chemical Engineering, Shaanxi University of Science and Technology

Dr. Kecheng Li joined Western Michigan University in 2016 as a professor and the Chair of the Department of Chemical and Paper Engineering.   Prior to joining WMU, Dr. Li was a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of New Brunswick, Canada, where he was a recipient of Merit Award (2008) and was appointed University Research Scholar by the Board of Governors in 2011 and then in 2016.

Dr. Li has more than 20 years of R&D experience in the pulp and paper manufacturing technologies.  His areas of research interests also include biorefining for biofuels, nanocellulose, biochemicals; enzyme technologies for wood and fiber processing and wastewater treatment; and state-of-the-art surface and nanoscale techniques. Dr. Li’s research has been supported REMADE Institute, DOE, MTRAC, Graphic Packaging International (GPI), WestRock, New-Indy Containerboards, Fabri-Kal, Novozymes, and previously by Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)-Discovery, -Strategic, -CRD programs, Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF), New Brunswick Innovation Fund (NBIF), MatNet, and by a number of industrial leaders such as Resolute Forest Products, Novozymes, Andritz, West Fraser, Smurfit-Stone Container, UMP-Kymmene, Tembec, Millar Western, and Irving Paper.  Dr. Li is currently leading two research projects funded by DOE and a few projects supported by industrial partners.

Dr. Li and his students have authored 100+ refereed journal papers and book chapters, and delivered numerous conference presentations. He has also developed more than ten proprietary technologies/disclosures and holds six US patents.  Dr. Li has been invited by universities and research institutes around the world to give seminars in e.g., Australia, Canada, China, Finland, Japan, Korean, and USA, and by conferences and symposiums to deliver keynote speeches. He has served as an executive editor, editorial board member and a guest editor for four journals and is a regular reviewer for more than 50 academic journals in North America and Europe in bioenergy, chem-eng, materials science, nanotechnologies, surface sciences, environment, and the pulp and paper fields. He’s also an external reviewer for NSF (USA), DOE (USA), KKS (Sweden), and CFI and NSERC (Canada).

Dr. Li is a Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry (UK), and has been appointed as an adjunct professor by the University of Waterloo and by University of New Brunswick.  He is also serving on the International Research Management Committee of Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI).

Selected Recent Publications

1)     Y. Tang K. Li, D. Qi, “Simulations of effects of fiber rigidity on wet press”, Physics of Fluids 33:0331-0312 (2021)

2)     B. Zhou, Y. Wang, Z., Jiang, A., Salam, K., Li, (2021) “How do xylanase and hot acid stages differ at enhancing elemental chlorine-free bleaching of hardwood kraft pulp?”, Journal of Wood Chemistry and Technology, DOI: 10.1080/02773813.2021.1938130

3)     Xiuyu Liu, Yan Jiang, Xueping Song, Kecheng Li, “A bio-mechanical process for cellulose nanofiber production – towards a greener and energy conservation solution”, Carbohydrate Polymer, 208:191-199 (2019)

4)     Yan Jiang, Xiuyu Liu, Qiang Yang, Xueping Song, Kecheng Li, “Effects of residual lignin on composition, structure and properties of mechanically defibrillated cellulose fibrils and films”, Cellulose 26(3):1577-1593 (2019)

5)     Zhao Zhang, Fafa Song, Hui Chang, Xiya Zhang, Kecheng Li “Cellulose nanopaper with controllable optical haze and high efficiency ultraviolet blocking for flexible optoelectronics”, Cellulose 26(4):1-8 (2019)

6)     Zhao Zhang, Xinping Li, Kecheng Li, “Irreversible Solvatochromic Zn-Nanopaper Based on Zn(II) Terpyridine Assembly and Oxidized Nanofibrillated Cellulose", ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 6(9):11614–11623 (2018)

7)     Xiuyu Liu, Yan Jiang, Xueping Song, Kecheng Li "Enzyme-assisted mechanical grinding for cellulose nanofibers from bagasse: energy consumption and nanofiber characteristics", Cellulose Cellulose 25(12):7065-7078 (2018)

8)     Yan Jiang, Xiuyu Liu, Qiang Yang, Kecheng Li "Effects of residual lignin on mechanical defibrillation process of cellulosic fiber for producing lignocellulose nanofibrils", Cellulose (2018) 25:6479–6494

9)     Zhao Zhang, Wai-Kwok Wong, Kecheng Li, Xunjin Zhu, “Near-infrared and visible dual emissive transparent nanopaper based on Yb(III)–carbon quantum dots grafted oxidized nanofibrillated cellulose for anticounterfeiting applications”, Cellulose doi10.1007/s10570-017-1594-1 (2017)

10)  Jing Zhang, Gaopeng Jiang, Maciej Goledzinowski, Felix J. E. Comeau, Kecheng Li, Timothy Cumberland, Jared Lenos, Pan Xu, Matthew Li, Aiping Yu, Zhongwei Chen, “Green Solid Electrolyte with Cofunctionalized Nanocellulose/Graphene Oxide Interpenetrating Network for Electrochemical Gas Sensors”, Small Methods, 1700237 (2017)

11)  Zhao Zhang, Bailiang Xue, Xingping Li, Waikwow Wong, Kecheng Li, “New Transparent Flexible Nanopaper as Ultraviolet Filter Based on Red Emissive EU(III) Nanofibrillated Cellulose”, Optical Materials, 73, 747-753, (2017)

12)  Fougere, D, Clarke, Nada, S. Kozinski, J., Li, K., “Effect of acidic pretreatment on the chemistry and distribution of lignin in aspen wood and wheat straw substrates”, Biomass and Bioenergy, 91, 56-68(2016)

13)  Zhang, J., Fu, J., Song, X., Li, K., Chen, Z., “Laminated Cross-linked Nanocellulose/Graphene Oxide Electrolyte for Flexible Rechargeable Zinc-Air Batteries”, Advanced Energy Materials, (6)14, 1600476 (2016)

14)  Fougere, D, Clarke, Nada, S. Kozinski, J., Li, K., “Effect of acidic pretreatment on the chemistry and distribution of lignin in aspen wood and wheat straw substrates”, Biomass and Bioenergy, in press(2016)

15)  Fu, J., Zhang, J. Song, X., Zarrin, H., Tian, X., Qiao, J., Rasen L., Li, K., Chen, Z., “A flexible solid-state electrolyte for wide-scale integration of rechargeable zinc-air batteries”, Energy and Environmental Science, (9), 663-670 (2016)

16)  Nie, S., Song, X., Ebonka, J. Li, K. “Removal of Hexenuronic Acid by Xylanase to Reduce Adsorbable Organic Halides Formation in Chlorine Dioxide Bleaching of Bagasse Pulp” Bioresource Technology, 196, 413-417 (2015)

17)  Fougere, D, Clarke, K, Zhao, Y., Li, K., “Chemical-mechanical pretreatment of wood: reducing downsizing energy and increasing enzymatic digestibility”
Biomass and Bioenergy, 80 (9)17-29 (2015)

18)  Hu, C., Zhu, J., Li, K. “Optimizing cellulose fibrillation for production of nanofibrils by a disk grinder", Holzforschung, 69(8):993-1000 (2015)

19)  Fougere, D., Zhao Y., Zhao, J., Zheng, Y., Li, K., “Combination of a two-stage dilute acid pretreatment with disc refiner technology for the production of biofuels from softwood”, J Science and Technology for Forest Products and Processes: 4(2):11-18 (2015)

20)  Kimmy Clarke, Kecheng Li, “Chapter3: The Heterogeneous Degradation Of The Morphological Structure Of Lignocellulose During Enzymatic Saccharification, in Lignocellulose: Biotechnology, Chemical Composition and Future Prospects” Nova Science Publishers, 2015

21)  Qin, C., Clarke, K., Li, K., “ Interactive forces between biomass lignin and cellulases determined by atomic force microscopy”, Biotechnology for Biofuels: 7(1): 65-74 (2014)

22)  Pelletier, A., Li, K., Fairbank, M., Court, G., Frith, M., “Enzymatic pretreatment of wood chips for energy savings in TMP refining”, J Science and Technology for Forest Products and Processes:  4(1):34-49 (2014) This paper is awarded The Douglas Atack Best Paper Award by Pulp and Paper Technical Association of Canada, Feb 2015

23)  Fougere, D., Zhao Y., Zhao, J., Zheng, Y., Li, K., “Combination of a two-stage dilute acid pretreatment with disc refiner technology for the production of biofuels from softwood”, J Science and Technology for Forest Products and Processes: Vol4 (2):11-18 (2015)

24)  Fougere, J.D., Lynch, M., Clarke, K., Zhao, J., Zheng, Y., Li, K., “The impact of mechanical downsizing on the physical structure and digestibility of hardwood biomass”, Energy and Fuels: 28(4):2645-2653 (2014) This paper is featured as Key Scientific Article online on Renewable Energy Global Innovations {ISSN 2291-2460}, Feb 2015

25)  Zhang, C., Lei, X.C., Scott, C.T., Zhu, J.Y., Li, K., “Comparison of dilute acid and sulfite pretreatment for enzymatic saccharification of earlywood and latewood of Douglas fir”, Bioenergy Resources: 7(1), 362 – 370 (2014)

26)  Wang, Y., Zheng, Y., Li, K., Pelletier, A., “Effects of solvents and catalysts in liquefaction of pinewood sawdust for the production of bio-oils and bioenergy”, Biomass and Bioenergy: 59, 158 - 167  (2013)

27)  Jin, W., Tolba, R., Wen, J., Li, K., Chen, A., “Efficient extraction of lignin from black liquor via a novel membrane-assisted electrochemical approach”, Electrochimica Acta: 107, 611-618 (2013)

28)  Pelletier, A., Li, K., Zhao, Y., Court, G., Luo, J., Frith, M., “Improvement of enzyme transport in wood chips for thermomechanical pulp refining ”, Carbohydrate Polymers: 95, 25- 31 (2013)

29)  Yan, D., Li, K., "Conformability of wood fibre surface determined by AFM indentation", Journal of Materials Science:  48, 322-331 (2013)

30)  Pelletier, A., Zhao, Y., Lei, X., and Li, K., "Improved fiber separation and energy reduction in thermomechanical pulp refining using enzyme-pretreated wood,"BioResources: 8(3), 3385-3398 (2013)

31)  Clarke, K., Lei, X., Huang, F., Li, K., “The analysis of lignocelluloses fiber structural changes throughout enzymatic cellulose hydrolysis using atomic force microscopy”. J. Bioprocess Engineering & Biorefinery, 2(3), 171 – 181 (2013)

32)  Yan, D., Li, K., “Evaluation of interfiber bonding in wood pulp fibers by chemical force microscopy”. J. Materials Science Research: 2 (1), 23-33 (2013)

33)  Wang, Y., Wang H., Lin, H., Pelletier, A., Zheng, Y., Li, K., “Liquefaction of pinewood in supercritical carbon dioxide (SCCO2)”. Current Organic Chemistry: 17 (15): 1596-1603 (2013)

34)  Liu, W., Hou, Q., Mao, C., Yuan, Z., Li, K., "Hemicelluloses prior to aspen chemithermomechanical pulping: pre-extraction, separation and characterization", Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry:  60(19), 4880-4885 (2012)

35)  Yang, Q., Pan, X., Clarke, K., Li, K., “Covalent functionalization of graphene with polysaccharides”, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research: 51, 310-317 (2012)

36)  Li, X., Clarke, K., Fougere, J.D., Li, K., Chen, A., “Accelerated hydrolysis rate due to fiber cutting throughout enzymatic cellulose hydrolysis”. Journal of Bioprocess Engineering and Biorefinery: 1(1), 77-85 (2012)

37)  Li, X., Clarke, K., Li, K., Chen, A., “The pattern of cell wall deterioration in lignocellulose fibers throughout enzymatic cellulose hydrolysis”. Biotechnology Progress: 28(6): 1389-1399 (2012)

38)  Liu, W., Hou, Q., Mao, C., Yuan, Z., Li, K., “Effect of hemicelluloses pre-extraction on the properties and bleachability of aspen chemi-thermomechanical pulp”, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research: 51,11122-11127 (2012)

39)  Lei, X., Zhao, Y., Pelletier, A., Li, K., “Improved surface properties of CTMP fibers with enzymatic pretreatment of wood chips prior to refining”. Cellulose: 19 (6): 2205-2215 (2012)

40)  Li, X., Luo, X., Li, K, Zhu, J.Y., Fougere, J.D., Clarke, K., “Effects of SPORL and dilute acid pretreatment on substrate morphology, cell physical and chemical wall structures and subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis of lodge pole pine”,  Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology:168 (6): 1556-67 (2012)

41)  Yang, Q., Pan, X., Huang, F., Li, K., “Synthesis and characterization of cellulose fibers grafted with hyperbranched poly(3-methyl-3-oxetanemethanol)”, Cellulose: 18:1611–1621 (2011)

42)  Liu, W., Yuan, Z., Mao, C., Hou, Q., Li, K., “Extracting hemicelluloses prior to aspen chemi-thermomechanical pulping: effects of pre-extraction on pulp properties”, Carbohydrate Polymers: 87, 322-327 (2012)

43)  Clarke, K., Li, X., and Li, K., “The mechanism of fibre cutting during cellulosic hydrolysis”, Biomass and Bioenergy: 35, 3943-3950 (2011)

44)  Xu, Y., Zhang, M., Li, K., “Lignin reprecipitation on ethanol pulp fibres determined with AFM and XPS”, APPITA JOURNAL:  64(3) 3, 278-283 (2011)

45)  Liu, W., Yuan, Z., Mao, C., Hou, Q., Li, K., “Removal of hemicelluloses by alkaline pre-extraction of aspen chips prior to mechanical pulping”, Bioresources: 6(3), 3469-3480  (2011)

46)  Zhang, S., Zhang, M., Li, K., “Adhesion force between aramid fibres and aramid fibrid by AFM”, Polymer Bulletins: 66, 351-362 (2011)

47)  Liu, J., Chen, Z., Zhao, X., Wang, H., Li, K., “Elasto-plastic analysis of the influence of bond deformability on the mechanical behaviour of 3D fiber networks”, Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics: 55, 131-139 (2011)

48)  Yang, Q., Pan, X., Huang, F., Li, K., “Fabrication of high-concentration and stable aqueous suspensions of graphene nanosheets by noncovalent fictionalization with lignin and cellulose derivatives”, J. Physical Chemistry C: 114, 3811-3816 (2010)

49)  Li, K., Lei, X., Camm, C., “Surface characterization and surface modification of mechanical pulp fibres”, Pulp Paper Canada: 111 (1-2), T11-T16 (2010)

50)  Yuan, Z., Gao, Y., Li, K., “Understanding the chemical pretreatment on properties of aspen CTMP”, Pulp Paper Canada: 112(3), T10-15 (2010)

51)  Zhang, S., Zhang, M., Li, K., “Adhesion characteristics of aramid fibres-fibrids in a sheet calendering process”, APPITA J:  63(1), 58-64 (2010)

52)  Liu, J.X., Chen, Z.T., Li, K., “A 2-D lattice model for simulating the failure of paper”, Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics: 54, 1-10 (2010)

53)  Karademir, A., Ertas, M., Copur, Y., Li, K., “Pulp and paper characteristics of unbeaten plant fibres”, Bioresources:  5(1), 1-11 (2010)