Iowa State researchers looking for catalyst that allows plants to
Iowa State University researchers are working to understand how a
catalyst allows certain plants and algae to create simple hydrocarbons that
could be a new source of liquid fuels. The project is supported by a
four-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Office of
Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation. See story.
First year of Center for Biorenewable Chemicals builds bridges to
A five-year, $18.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation one
year ago established the NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable
Chemicals at Iowa State University. The center's 24 researchers from nine
academic institutions are working toward a goal of transforming the chemical
industry from one based on petroleum to one based on biorenewable resources.
Green slime starts to shine
Natural photosynthetic systems that use solar energy to capture carbon
are ripe for engineering innovation. One group holding promise for
generating renewable biofuels and chemicals are microalgae, organisms Martin
Spalding, professor and chair of the department of genetics, development and
cell biology has been studying for over 30 years. See
Iowa States Intensive Program in Biorenewables shows students the
Iowa State University's first Intensive Program in Biorenewables
attracted 46 students from across the country and around the world.
They spent two weeks in talks, tours, demonstrations and tests that covered the
science, the opportunities and the challenges of developing a bioeconomy. See
Iowa Power Fund advances Iowa State development of clean energy
Iowa State University researchers are working to produce clean, renewable
energy by developing a new, low-emissions burner and a new catalyst for
ethanol production. Both technologies will use the synthesis gas -- a mixture of carbon monoxide
and hydrogen -- produced by the gasification of discarded seed corn,
switchgrass, wood chips and other biomass. See story.
An Innovative Grant from the Plant Sciences Institute helped launch a
project for the sustainable production of lignocellulosic feedstocks. These
feedstocks will play a large role if the United States is to succeed in
producing the 36 billion gallons of domestic biofuel by 2022, mandated by
the Energy Independence Security Act of 2007. See
Iowa State Biobased Industry Center studies carbon emissions, other
Iowa State University's new Biobased Industry Center will support
interdisciplinary research of the biorenewables industry and its economic,
policy, business, social and workforce issues. The center is now sponsoring
four studies, including three studies related to carbon emissions. See story.
Is food the new crude?
"In October 2006, the world suddenly recognized the energy value of
grains," says Dermot Hayes, leader of the Plant Sciences Institute's Public
Policy Task Force, Pioneer Hi-Bred Chair of Agribusiness and professor in
the Departments of Economics and Finance. Now, along with an enormous surge
in ethanol-producing capacity, a tug-of-war between fuel and food markets
(which includes animal feed) has begun.
Iowa State wins $18.5 million grant to create NSF Engineering Research
Center for Biorenewable Chemicals
The National Science Foundation has awarded Iowa State University and its
research partners an $18.5 million grant to establish the NSF Engineering
Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals based at Iowa State. The center's
focus will be to develop catalysts that promote the chemical reactions that
can efficiently produce biorenewable chemicals. The center is also expected
to create university and industry partnerships that promote innovation,
transform engineered systems, advance technology and produce engineering
graduates who can creatively contribute in a global economy.
Iowa State researchers study ground cover to reduce impact of biomass
Ground cover may be one workable method to reduce the
effects of erosion that future biomass harvests are predicted to bring.
A Win-win situation: new crops and biorenewable fuels
Its estimated biomass fuels currently provide just 3 percent of the
energy used in the United States. Researchers at Iowa State University hope
to change that.
Iowa State researchers use fungus to improve corn-to-ethanol
A team of researchers from Iowa State University and the University of
Hawai'i are developing a process that cleans up and improves the dry-grind
ethanol production process. The process uses fungus to reduce energy costs,
allow more water recycling and improve a co-product that's used as livestock
feed. The American Academy of Environmental Engineers recently awarded the
project its 2008 Grand Prize for University Research. See
Iowa State-ConocoPhillips collaboration advances 26 research projects in
The first year of ConocoPhillips' [NYSE:COP] eight-year, $22.5 million
research program at Iowa State University (ISU) has supported 26 research
projects and helped establish new research collaborations to further
diversify America's sources of energy and help meet growing energy demand.
ISU, ConocoPhillips and National Renewable Energy Lab to cooperate on
Iowa State University, ConocoPhillips and the U.S. Department of Energy's
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have reached a Memorandum of
Understanding to identify promising cellulosic biomass conversion
technologies over the near, mid- and long-term. The collaboration will bring
three independently established programs together to help identify the most
efficient and cost-effective methods for making liquid transportation fuels
Iowa State researchers developing system to efficiently convert biomass
Iowa State University researchers are developing an integrated system of
thermochemical and catalytic technologies to efficiently produce ethanol
from plant biomass. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy
recently announced they'll support the research with a two-year grant of up
ISU study finds economic impact of ethanol in Iowa to support 8,169
Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson projects in a new report
that when the 15 ethanol plants currently under construction in Iowa are
brought online within a year or so, there will be 1,865 jobs in the state's
42 ethanol operations. Swenson's report also determined that for every job at an ethanol plant,
3.38 jobs in the rest of the state's economy will be supported. That means
the state can soon expect to have 8,169 jobs supported by the ethanol
Iowa State scientist researches ways to squeeze two fuels from one
kernel of corn
Getting ethanol from a corn kernel has changed the way the country looks
at a corn field. Now, that view might change again. Iowa State University researcher Tong Wang is researching new ways to
maximize the amount of oil that can be recovered after a corn kernel is used
for ethanol fermentation.
Iowa State engineer develops laser technologies to analyze combustion,
Terry Meyer, an Iowa State University assistant professor of mechanical
engineering, is using laser technology to develop advanced sensors capable
of analyzing the combustion inside engines, power generators and heating
systems. He'll use the sensors to study -- and potentially improve -- the
combustion of alternative fuels. See story.
Iowa State establishes Bioeconomy Institute to advance biorenewable
Iowa State University is establishing a Bioeconomy Institute to help the
university and state maintain their leadership in biorenewable fuels,
chemicals and technologies.The initial work of the institute will focus on
six program areas: corn to biofuels; biorenewable chemicals; thermochemical
technologies such as gasification and fast pyrolysis; harvest, storage and
transportation of biomass; feedstock production; and biorenewables
DuPont Partners with Iowa State to Enhance Biofuels Production
DuPont today announced a pledge of $1 million to the Iowa State University
New Century Farm, the first research effort in the United States to
focus on producing cellulosic ethanol on the farm. The research efforts also
will focus on enhancing the production, processing and utilization of
feedstocks for biofuels and biomaterials.See
Iowa State University conference examines developing bioeconomy
The 2007 Biobased Industry Outlook Conference, "Growing the Bioeconomy,"
will be Nov. 5 and 6 at the Iowa State Center on the Iowa State University
campus. The conference will include speakers such as venture capitalist and
ethanol supporter Vinod Khosla and genomics researcher J. Craig Venter.
Iowa State researcher studies the sustainability of the bioeconomy
Will a bioeconomy that produces fuel and chemicals from biorenewable
resources be sustainable? Robert Anex, an Iowa State associate professor of
agricultural and biosystems engineering, is leading several studies looking
for some answers. One study found an integrated process for producing
ethanol from plant fiber could recycle plant nutrients back to the soil.
Another project has developed a Web tool that helps farmers simulate how
biomass production could affect their operations. See
ISU receives USDA grant to develop undergraduate program in biobased
Faculty at Iowa State University were recently awarded a U.S. Department
of Agriculture grant to create an interdisciplinary undergraduate
certificate program in biobased products combining technology and
Doctor of research management
Justinus Satrio, the 39-year-old program manager for Iowa State's Center for
Sustainable Environmental Technologies, manages a handful of research projects and keeps
them moving ahead. He also finds time to get in the lab as a research
scientist. All of that takes a lot of work.
See Inside Iowa State
Chemist develops new screening method to help find better biofuel
Analytical chemist Emily Smith of the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames
Laboratory plans to use Raman imaging to study plant
cell structure to determine which crops offer the right combination of cell
wall composition and degradation to maximize the materials' conversion to
ethanol. Just like vintners monitor and test the sugar content of their grapes in the
field, biofuel producers could potentially use this technology to determine
if their crop was at optimal development for conversion to ethanol, said
Smith, who is also an Iowa State University assistant professor of
ConocoPhillips establishes $22.5 million biofuels research program at
ConocoPhillips will support Iowa State scientists and engineers as they
research and develop a biofuel-production technology called fast pyrolysis.
The technology uses heat in the absence of oxygen to decompose biomass into
a liquid product. The energy company will also support research of the plant
sciences and crop production, the harvesting and transportation of biomass
and the impacts of biofuels on economic policy and rural sociology. See story.
See and hear about small towns and the bioeconomy
The conference, "Community Futures: The Small Town in the Bioeconomy," recently
explored the impact and implications of the emerging
bioeconomy for Iowa's small communities, with a keynote address by Gov.
Chet Culver. There were also presentations, panel discussions and breakout
sessions with economists, sociologists, designers, extension staff and local
and hear the presentations.
Science and Society shifts focus to bioeconomy
The bioeconomy has become a major focus of both the federal government
and Iowa State University. The Institute of Science and Society in the College of Liberal Arts and
Sciences is jumping on the bandwagon. "In light of the literal 'explosion' of the bioeconomy in Iowa as well as the
nation, the university's growing focus on bioeconomy issues, and the
positive and negative consequences of bioeconomy expansion for the
environment, we are expanding the current focus of the Institute," said John
Miranowski, professor of economics and Science and Society director.
International biotech company to open office at the Iowa State Research
Novozymes, a Denmark-based biotechnology company, expects to open its
first Midwest office at the Iowa State University Research Park in April.
The office staff will support customers in the ethanol industry, offer
training for customers and research new technologies to help make ethanol
from plant fiber. Some of the company's researchers may work with Iowa State
Modifying plant lignin for biofuel production
Plant biomass is being touted as the up-and-coming source for biofuels.
There's a challenge however -- biomass, such as corn stover, switchgrass and
other feedstocks, is tough and not easily converted to ethanol. Ramesh Nair, associate scientist in the Plant Sciences Institute, is looking
to modify feedstocks so they can be more readily converted to ethanol.
Scientific curiosity fuels Iowa State professor's study of feeding corn milling
Count Allen Trenkle among those who think increasing ethanol production
in Iowa is a good thing. "I'm enthusiastic about it. We have opportunities in
Iowa that other parts of the country don't have, and one of those is to use
this increase in ethanol production to increase cattle production," he said.
Trenkle is a Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture at
Iowa State University. He's retiring this month after 44 years on the animal
science faculty. But as an emeritus professor, he said his "scientific
curiosity" will lead him to continue his research on how co-products of corn
milling operations can be used as feed sources for livestock and poultry.
Report, recommendations from bioeconomy summit
The final report and recommendations resulting from a
recent summit on maintaining Iowa's leadership in the bioeconomy has
been released. More than 400 leaders from Iowa industry, government and higher education
met on campus Nov. 28 for the summit on "Ensuring Iowa's Leadership in the
Bioeconomy." Video of the
conference sessions and the final report are on
Summit web site.
Iowa State researchers developing machinery to harvest corn stalks and
Iowa State University researchers are developing front and rear
attachments that allow a conventional combine to harvest corn stover (the
stalks, cobs and leaves) as well as grain. The stover could be the source of
plant fiber that feeds the next generation of ethanol plants. See
An old discovery could boost ethanol production from plant fiber
A discovery some 40 years ago is showing promise as a chemical
pre-treatment that breaks down plant fiber. That could release the simple
sugars in corn stalks or switchgrass so they can be fermented into ethanol.
That could boost ethanol production. And that could add value to Iowa's crops or the fibrous co-products of
ethanol production. "We knew we were tearing some things up in the
cellulose," said John Verkade, a University Professor of chemistry at Iowa
New oil sources
One Iowa State scientist is hoping to strike oil -- but not by drilling
wells. David Oliver, a member of the Center for Designer Crops, is
researching an untapped source in plant leaves. Oliver's first objective of
the research, which is funded by a Plant Sciences Institute Innovative
grant, is to prove conclusively that oils exist in the leaves of the boxwood
plant. Preliminary data using three different methods shows biochemical
evidence of oil in boxwood leaves.
Iowa State researchers improving plastics made from corn and soy
Iowa State University researchers are using ultrasonics to break up and
disperse nanoclays that can reinforce biorenewable and biodegradable
plastics made from corn and soy proteins.
"Town Hall" meeting on biorenewable resources
In an Oct. 23 "Town Hall Meeting on the Bioeconomy Initiative,"
Gregory Geoffroy and other members of the campus community discussed Iowa State's
current expertise in biorenewables and biorenewable fuels and future
opportunities in this rapidly growing area.
Iowa State part of partnership competing for BP biofuels research
A partnership of the University of California, San Diego, Iowa State
University and the J. Craig Venter Institute will compete for BP's $500
million Energy Biosciences Institute. See
Is Iowa ready to lead the era of cellulosic energy?
Iowa has made tremendous strides in developing its ethanol industry, and
we are, without question, the nation's leader in production of grain ethanol
from corn. But we have taken only the first step in achieving our shared
vision of Iowa sustaining its leadership in the emerging bioeconomy.
See essay by Gregory Geoffroy, Robert C. Brown and Bruce Babcock.
Farming that improves the environment
Iowa State University researchers say burning some of the residue left in
corn fields produces products that can be used to improve soil fertility,
boost in-soil storage of greenhouse gases and reduce the amount of natural
gas used to produce anhydrous ammonia fertilizer.
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