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    Fujitsu develops a biodegradable laptop chassis from corn-starch bioplastic. The material reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 15% compared to a chassis made from petroleum-based plastics. CNET Asia - August 20, 2007.

    India's Rana Sugars Ltd has decided to set up a new plant for producing ethanol in Uttar Pradesh with an estimated investment of €9 to 10.9 (US$12.2 to 14.7). The facility will have a capacity of 180,000 liters per year and will generate, besides ethanol, 26MW of carbon-neutral power from bagasse. Economic Times India - August 20, 2007.

    Prominent pro-democracy activists staged a rare protest in Myanmar's biggest city Sunday, marching against a massive recent fuel price hike. "We are staging this performance to reflect the hardship our people are facing due to the government's fuel price hike," said Min Ko Naing, a leader of the 88 Generation Students' Group. Myanmar's ruling military junta imposed a surprise 100 percent hike on fuel at state-owned gas stations on Wednesday. The move was followed by increases in bus fares and commodity prices. The Star - August 19, 2007.

    Canada's Cavendish Farms, one of the country's largest food processing companies is to build a biogas plant to recycle spent cooking oils, starch and sludge from its waste-water plant to fuel its potato processing operation. Use of the carbon-neutral biofuel will limit the amount of bunker C fuel oil currently in use by the company. The plant, expected to be ready for operation by next fall, has received a $14-million loan from the Province of Prince Edward Island. CBC - August 18, 2007.

    Basin Electric Power Cooperative told a U.S. Senate Energy Appropriations subcommittee that it is looking into capturing carbon dioxide from its Antelope Valley Station and sell it for enhanced oil recovery in the Williston Basin. Carbon capture technologies have not yet been applied to a power plant that uses lignite, or even subbitumious coal. The trial would be the first one to do so in the Midwest. Bismarck Tribune - August 17, 2007.

    The BBC World Service's current 'One Planet' programme focuses on revolutionary technologies and research that uses a next-generation of GM crops as factories for the production of new pharmaceuticals, green products and alternatives to petroleum-based chemicals. One Planet - August 16, 2007.

    Germany's Biogas Nord has been commissioned to construct a large multi-feed biogas plant with a capacity of 2.8 MW of electrical power in Romania. The value of the order is approximately €3.5 million. The plant will be built in the Transylvanian region close to the county town of Oradea. Interestingly, a synergy will be created by coupling the facility to the construction of a biodiesel plant. In so doing, the waste products resulting from the production of biodiesel, such as rapeseed pellets and glycerin, will be brought to the biogas plant as substrates. Ad-Hoc News - August 16, 2007.

    The University of Western Ontario's Research Park at Sarnia has received $10-million in funding for the development of biofuel technologies. The funds will be used for the creation of the 'Ontario Bioindustrial Innovation Centre' at the University, including the addition of a commercialization centre with incubator suites, laboratory equipment, pilot plant space and space for startup companies. The Observer - August 16, 2007.

    Philippine Bio-Sciences Co., Inc. (PhilBio) and its Clean Development Mechanism subsidiary in Cebu, has told the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) that it will soon open a 10 megawatt biogas plant in Cebu. According to the company, under current conditions electricity generated from biogas is around 20% less costly than that generated from fossil fuels. Philippine Bio-Sciences - August 15, 2007.

    Scientists, economists and policy experts representing government and public institutions from more than 40 countries will exchange the latest information on economic and technology opportunities at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "Global Conference on Agricultural Biofuels: Research and Economics", to be held Aug. 20-21 in Minneapolis. USDA ARS - August 14, 2007.

    A company owned by the Chinese government has expressed interest in investing up to 500 million US dollars in a biofuel project in Indonesia. The company is planning to use jatropha as its raw material and is targeting an annual output of around 1 million tons. Forbes - August 13, 2007.

    Virgin Atlantic, Boeing and General Electric are within weeks of selecting the biofuel for a flight demonstration in the UK early next year. The conversion of biomass via the Fischer-Tropsch process is no longer amongst the biofuel candidates, because the process has already been demonstrated to work. Ground testing of the chosen fuel in a development engine at GE is expected to begin in October-November. The limited flight-test programme will involve burning biofuel in one GE CF6-80C2 engine on a Virgin Boeing 747-400. Flight Global - August 13, 2007.

    Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said Saturday it plans to introduce a new preferential tax system in fiscal 2008 aimed at promoting a wider use of biofuel, which could help curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Under the envisaged plan, biofuel that has been mixed with gasoline will be exempt from the gasoline tax--currently 53.8 yen per liter--in proportion to the amount of biofuel included. If blended with diesel oil, biofuel will be free from the diesel oil delivery tax, currently 32.1 yen per liter. Daily Yomiuri - August 13, 2007.

    Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said Saturday it plans to introduce a new preferential tax system in fiscal 2008 aimed at promoting a wider use of biofuel, which could help curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Under the envisaged plan, biofuel that has been mixed with gasoline will be exempt from the gasoline tax--currently 53.8 yen per liter--in proportion to the amount of biofuel included. If blended with diesel oil, biofuel will be free from the diesel oil delivery tax, currently 32.1 yen per liter. Daily Yomiuri - August 13, 2007.

    Buenos Aires based ABATEC SA announces the release of a line of small biodiesel plants with modular design, high temperature reaction for the best yield, to produce from 50 to 1000 gal/day (190 to 3785 liter/day) of high quality methylester and valuable glycerol. PRWeb - August 10, 2007.

    Vegetable growers in North Queensland are trying to solve the problem of disposing of polyethylene plastic mulch by using a biodegradable, bioplastic based alternative. Trials are a collaboration of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries with the Bowen District Growers Association. Queensland Country Life - August 8, 2007.

    Hawaii's predominant utility has won approval to build the state's first commercial biofuel plant. It is the first substantial new power generator that Hawaiian Electric Co. has added in 17 years. HECO will build the $142.3 million facility at Campbell Industrial Park on Oahu beginning early next year, and expects to begin commercial operation in mid-2009. It will run exclusively on fuels made from ethanol or biodiesel. Star Bulletin (Honolulu) - August 8, 2007.

    PetroSun Inc. announced today that it conducted its initial algae-to-biofuel program held at Auburn and Opelika, Alabama. The company intends to hold a series of these programs during August and September with biodiesel refiners and firms that are researching the use of algal oil as a potential feedstock for jet fuel production. MarketWire - August 8, 2007.

    To encourage Malaysia's private sector to generate energy from biomass resources, national electricity company Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) has increased the purchase price of electricity produced from palm oil biomass waste to 21 sen per kilowatt hour from 19 sen now. According to Minister of Enegry, Water and Communications, Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik the new price structure, under the Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreement (REPPA), will be implemented immediately. Such projects are eligible for the Clean Development Mechanism. Under the 9th Malaysian Plan, the country's government aims to achieve the installation of 300MW and 50MW of grid-connected electric power from renewable energy sources in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, respectively. Bernama - August 7, 2007.

    Aspectrics, which develops encoded photometric infrared and near infrared spectroscopy, will be launching a new range of biofuels analyzers designed to meet the demands of scientists and analysts to carry out biodiesel quality control and analyze biodiesel blend percentages in real time. Bioresearch Online - August 7, 2007.

    Irish start-up Eirzyme has secured a €10m investment from Canadian company Micromill System. The new company will produce low-cost enzymes to convert biological materials such as brewers' grains into bioethanol and biogas. RTE - August 6, 2007.

    Imperium Renewables says it has a deal to provide Royal Caribbean Cruises with biodiesel. The Seattle-based biodiesel maker, which is scheduled to inaugurate its Grays Harbor plant this month, will sell the cruise line 15 million gallons of biodiesel in 2007 and 18 million gallons annually for four years after that. The Miami-based cruise line has four vessels that call in Seattle. It is believed to be the single-largest long-term biodiesel sales contract to an end user in the U.S. Seattle Times - August 5, 2007.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Sun Grant Initiative funds 17 bioenergy research projects

The Sun Grant Initiative (SGI) in the South Central Region of the U.S. will be making available approximately US$2.5 million during the next three years to area scientists and engineers developing and enhancing new sources of energy based on biomass. 17 highly interesting projects have been selected for the first round of funding.

The SGI is a national program, headquartered at Oklahoma State University (OSU), and was established to create new solutions for America's energy needs and to revitalize rural communities by working with land-grant universities and their federal and state laboratory partners on research, education and extension programs.

The research projects are made possible through funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Two types of projects are being funded: seed-grant projects allowing investigators to explore possible renewable-energy sources and processes, funded at $35,000 per year up to two years, and integrated projects that require multi-institutional participation and are funded up to $125,000 per year for up to three years.

A competitive grants process selected 17 out of 76 projects from the South-Central Region which includes scientists and engineers at land-grant universities in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico. Projects cover a wide range of topics, from the logistics of biomass handling, over improved energy crop design to research into next-generation bioconversion technologies, innovative uses for byproducts and microorganisms. The selection provides a good overview of the challenges and opportunities offered by the complex, emerging bioeconomy. The following is an overview of the six projects falling under the category 'integrated research' (full project descriptions can be found here [*.doc]):

1. Researchers from Kansas State University (KSU) and Texas A&M University will develop high yielding designer sorghums for optimized low energy input ethanol production and high nutrition feed.

The goal is to develop a systems approach for designer sorghum cultivars to optimize the grain’s endosperm matrix for bio-ethanol conversion and grain distiller’s feed for low rain fed Texas environments. This approach will include protection of sorghum genetics with cultivars combining a high endosperm protein digestibility (HD) trait with a high amylopectin (waxy) starch trait. The scientists have generated data that suggest that both traits individually improve the endosperm matrix for low energy input gelatinization, enzymatic hydrolysis, and total ethanol production. Together, these two traits will be ideal for bio-ethanol conversion.
Bio-ethanol systems often sell the remaining grain by-products as a high protein feed supplement. Unfortunately, sorghum and corn grain are low in essential amino acids such as lysine. The HD trait also confers both a high protein bio-availability and high lysine content. As such, in the bio-ethanol-feed supplement system, the grain would also be optimized for feed. The proposal also explores the inclusion of vegetative tissue for lignocellulosic conversion into ethanol, best management practices to optimize the system for foliar and grain complex sugar retention, and a plan for future economic analysis of the competitiveness of this system with corn and sweet sorghum for the rain fed Texas environments.

2. A team of scientists from Louisiana State University and Texas A&M University will be developing a skid-mounted gasification system for on-site heat, fuel and power production.

The specific objectives of the project are as follows to investigate the technical feasibility of on-site thermal gasification systems with state-of-the art control systems for different unique biomass wastes in the region and evaluate the quality, composition, heat energy and power output. An evaluation of the economic feasibility of decentralized thermal gasification systems and development of economic models for different applications are an objective as well. Systems analysis will be conducted for the different applications within the region and lay-out strategies to reduce barriers for commercialization. Finally, the goal is to evaluate the environmental and air quality implications of the systems including permitting procedures.

At the end of the study modular gasification systems shall be developed whose size is applicable to several biomass generating industries in the region. The technical feasibility of both the fixed bed and fluidized bed gasification systems should have been clearly evaluated by bench-scale and field scale demonstration systems. The field demonstrations should be able to prove the technical functionality of the systems and its impact on reducing the heat and power requirement of a facility particularly industries generating biomass wastes on site (i.e. cotton gins, animal farms, etc).

3. Researchers at Texas A&M University and the University of Arkansas will be evaluating the energy and cost advantages of modules for packaging and transporting biomass energy crops:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Goals of this project are: 1. To evaluate the energy, labor and capital requirements for converting standing switchgrass to chopped material suitable as feedstock for a bio-fuels refinery using conventional round bale and large modules as the storage forms. 2. Determine the optimum chopped switchgrass characteristics for formation and long-term stability of modules. 3. Determine the storage losses and protection requirements for switchgrass modules to minimize field to biorefinery losses.

Expected outcomes can be summarized as follows: 1. knowledge of the visco-elastic properties of chopped switchgrass material as a function of moisture and particle size. 2. information regarding trade offs between harvest moisture content and length of chop for purposes of module stability, handling and transport weight limitations. 3. a preliminary economic model that can perform sensitivity analysis on energy, labor and capital cost associated with the two proposed harvest, storage and transport systems. 4. a breakeven analysis regarding tradeoffs related to more extensive equipment utilization vs. likely switchgrass yield losses associated with extending the harvest window. 5. estimation of annual harvest capacity per harvest unit given typical weather data and optimal harvest window identified above. 6. detailed cost of production budgets from field to biorefinery for round baling and module building. 7. report on switchgrass production and harvest activity impact on other farm operation and processing activities.

4. OSU and Brigham Young University scientists will be studying the effects of syngas sources on ethanol production via fermentation. The researchers hope to design a more efficient and economically viable gasification-fermentation process:

Project deliverables include:
1.A database of biomass-syngas constituents based on several feedstocks including switchgrass, wheat straw, and corn gluten as well as co-firing of switchgrass and wheat straw with coal.
2. An assessment of biomass-syngas constituents on the effects of cell growth, substrate consumption, ethanol production, and enzyme activity.
3. An assessment of the effects of gasification agents on generated biomass-syngas species and the fermentation process.
4. The development of a scrubbing system to reduce nitric oxide levels.
5. The development of gas clean-up systems to reduce or eliminate other biomass-syngas contaminants that are found to affect the fermentation process adversely.

5. Researchers at OSU, Texas A&M University, Kansas State University and New Mexico State University will be evaluating sweet sorghum hybrids as a bioenergy feedstock.

The specific objectives of this project are: 1. Develop and select sweet sorghum hybrids for use as a bioenergy feedstock; 2. Examine adaptability of high biomass sorghum and sweet sorghum to the South Central U.S., including the Coastal Plains, High Plains, and the Central Great Plains; 3. Develop production guidelines for sweet sorghums for these production regions. Agronomic emphasis will be on seeding rate, nitrogen management, and multiple harvest efficacy and water use efficiency; 4. Evaluate the effects of juice press operation and time of harvest on juice yield and sugar content of the expressed juice; 5. Determine the relative efficiency of ethanol conversion from sweet sorghum (lbs/sugar/gallon ethanol) and assess the relative role genotype, environment and genotype x environment interaction on ethanol production potential.

There are two research components. The first will focus on breeding, development and release of sweet sorghum hybrids for commercial production and the second will focus on production, processing and conversion issues of sweet sorghum cultivars and hybrids. Given that the cooperators are strategically located through a diverse set of production environments, we have divided the South Central area into three regions; (i) the Coastal Plain, from the Rio Grande through Louisiana, (ii) the High Plains region, including eastern New Mexico to Western Kansas, (iii) the South Central Great Plains region, including Central Kansas and Oklahoma.. Within each region, specific research objectives will be addressed based on the expertise and research interests of the faculty in that region. A common theme of all research is that it will focus on the sweet sorghum hybrids so that production systems are optimized for their release, adaptation and utilization.

Preliminary sweet sorghum hybrid evaluations in 2007 will be used to identify 3-5 specific hybrids for advanced testing. Parental lines for selected hybrids will be grown in the TAMU winter nursery near Guayanilla, Puerto Rico and bulk quantities of hybrid seed will be produced. Experimental hybrid seed will be distributed amongst the agronomists and they will plant these hybrids (along with checks appropriate for their region) in replicated tests in locations throughout the region.

These trials will also be used to develop agronomic “best management practices” for the three production regions. At each location, specific agronomic and/or engineering objectives will be addressed based on the interest of each co-PI. In South Texas, emphasis will be placed on multiple harvests, on the High Plains, population density will be studied and in the Great Plains, nitrogen utilization will be studied. Juice extraction studies will be conducted in Stillwater while ethanol conversion will be completed in Manhattan.

From this project the researchers will release inbred lines necessary to produce a sweet sorghum hybrid specifically for bioenergy production. These lines will be distributed based on licensing agreements negotiated by the Office of Technology Commercialization at Texas A&M University. The expectation is that these materials will be available for distribution in 2010 and possibly if needed as early as 2009. At the time of distribution, and on a regional basis, extension bulletins and production management guides will be made available on hybrid adaptation, expected sugar yield, and optimum seeding rate under both dryland and irrigated conditions.

6. Researchers at Texas A&M University, Tarleton State University and Angelo State University will be evaluating the nutritional and feeding value of ethanol byproducts for animal production.

Objectives of this project are to determine how animal performance, metabolism, digestibility, and wool and carcass characteristics of growing lambs and kids are affected by replacing protein (cottonseed meal) and energy (milo) feeds with Distillers' Dried Grains (DDG). Trials 1 and 2 will evaluate use of DDG on lamb and kid performance and wool and carcass characteristics. Trials 3 and 4 will evaluate the use of DDG on feed digestibility and nutrient metabolism in small ruminants.

7. Scientists at OSU, KSU, the University of Arkansas and Texas A&M University will be breeding and testing new switchgrass cultivars for increased biomass production in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Kansas.

The aim is to conduct a breeding program to develop switchgrass cultivars with increased biomass yield and wide adaptation. Secondly, the purpose is to establish a testing network in the south-central United States.

The deliverables from the project will include: 1. four breeding populations advanced from generation C2 to C3, and from C0 to C1; 2. the development of 6 to 8 new synthetics; 3. data on stand density and biomass yield of new synthetics and major commercial cultivars in the establishment year at five locations in 2010; 4. data on inbreeding and development of hybrid cultivars in 2010.

A series of 'seed grants' was made available for the following projects:

1. OSU scientists will be optimizing a new downdraft gasification system for synthesis gas production from low-bulk density biomass materials.

A unique downdraft gasifier design has been evolved at OSU to generate synthesis gas (syngas) consisting of CO, H2 and methane as the major combustible elements. The project aims at optimizing the new downdraft system for selected low bulk density biomass materials to generate synthesis gas high in carbon monoxide and hydrogen concentrations and low in tar and particulate contents, and to demonstrate its readiness for commercial deployment for distributed energy applications in Oklahoma and South Central region.

The specific objectives are as follows: 1. to fabricate a unique downdraft gasifier system capable of gasifying low bulk density biomass materials and develop a test set-up; 2. to test and evaluate the gasifier system developed under the objective 1 for chopped switchgrass, wheat straw, wood shavings, saw dust, and corn fermentation byproducts to generate synthesis gas high in carbon monoxide and hydrogen concentrations and low in tar and particulate contents and incorporate modifications as needed; 3. to evaluate mass and energy balance and synthesis gas generation cost details for each of the biomass material tested under the objective 2; and 4. demonstrate the developed gasifier technology to selected industries of Oklahoma and South Central region.

2. KSU researchers will be studying saline extractive distillation for ethanol separation.

The objective is to reduce capital and operating costs (energy demand) of the current multi stage separation process for recovery of fuel-grade ethanol from fermentation broth. A single distillation unit will suffice to obtain fuel-grade ethanol. The principle is the addition of salt to the distillation column and the subsequent recovery and recycle of the salt by electrodialysis. The recycling of salt to the distillation column by electrodialysis is the enabling process for saline extractive distillation.

3. Scientists at the University of Arkansas will examine nanoparticle systems for delivery of biological antimicrobial compounds to limit microbial contamination in industrial yeast fermentation.

Their long term goal is to find feasible antimicrobial intervention method(s) that can be routinely integrated with economical delivery systems in large scale industrial yeast fermentation systems. Specific objectives are: 1) Evaluate B. bifidum NCFB 1454 fermented corn grain extract against potential contaminants of yeast fermentation in a model system and screen for effective bacteriocins; 2) Evaluate the effective concentrations of polylysine or B. bifidum NCFB 1454 fermented corn grain extract bacteriocins or their combinations against potential contaminants in yeast fermentation system. 3) Synthesize and characterize chitosan nanoparticles containing polylysine peptide dispersed in organic acids and evaluate the effectiveness of the antimicrobial nanoparticles containing poly-lysine peptide incorporated organic acid spray treatment in yeast fermentation system.

Microbial contamination is the one of the major problems in the industrial yeast fermentation creating great economic losses to the fermentation industries during processing and requiring control in the initial processing steps of yeast fermentation. Failure to do so ensure an eventual shutdown of the fermenter and loss of production time until the system can be purged of contaminants and re-inoculated with the yeast strains normally used for the fermentation process. Therefore it becomes critical to develop broad spectrum antimicrobial additives to prevent potential bacterial contamination “blooms” prior to irreversible contamination and shut down of the fermenter.

The main objective of the proposed research will be to evaluate economically feasible biological compounds for their broad spectrum capability to limit and/or inhibit microbial contaminants in yeast fermentations. Because yeast fermentations are used for the production of the majority of ethanol, this study will be an important step to increase the quality of the fermentation process and therefore provide the Arkansas biofuel industry with better interventions for maintaining the quality of the fermentation process. Finally, the ethanol fermentation industry is one of the fastest growing industries with great potential economic benefit in Arkansas for development of biofuel from agricultural byproducts.

Successful completion of this project should provide a useful intervention strategy utilizing polymer-nano-composite system incorporating chitosan nanoparticles containing polylysine peptide dispersed in fermented extract biologicals to effectively control contaminants in yeast fermentation systems.

4. Another group of KSU researchers will be studying advanced biodiesel feedstock developments for the southern Great Plains.

The aims: 1. to evaluate germplasm with high monounsaturated fat content (oleic acid), reduced levels of polyunsaturated fat (linolenic and linoleic acid), and low amounts of saturated fatty acids for general adaptability to the southern Great Plains. 2. to develop adapted winter canola cultivars with superior oil quality for production of a high quality feedstock to produce biodiesel.

Expected Outcomes include specialty canola cultivars that will be the primary deliverable from this research project. Specialty canola cultivars will possess high oleic acid content in addition to low-linoleic, low-linolenic acid content, and lower levels of saturated fatty acids. High-oleic cultivars are defined as having approximately 75% oleic acid, with reduced amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acid. Specialty canola cultivars will be available approximately 8 to 10 years following creation of breeding populations. A reputable biofuel industry will likely establish in the region over this same time period. Oil produced from these specialty cultivars will provide a high quality feedstock with improved stability for the production of biodiesel. Superior oil quality will strengthen the value-added farm economy of the southern Great Plains, providing farmers an incentive to grow the cultivars.

5. Texas A&M researchers will develop a biotechnology platform for biomass bioconversion based on the microorganism Vibrio furnissii.

The main objective of this research is to further the researchers' long-term aim of developing an efficient and economical platform for the direct bioconversion of biomass into kerosene and other long-chain alkanes. To achieve this, they propose to pursue the following objectives: 1. To generate V. furnissii strains with altered hydrocarbon biosynthesis capacities. 2. To characterize the hydrocarbon profiles of V. furnissii strains with altered hydrocarbon-producing capacities. 3. To characterize the genetic lesions in V. furnissii strains harboring altered hydrocarbon biosynthesis and accumulation phenotypes.

6. KSU scientists also will be examining the viability of sorghum stover and brown midrib forage sorghum for ethanol production.

The goal of this proposed research is to develop comprehensive understanding and utilization of regular sorghum stover and bmr sorghum (sorghum biomass) for ethanol production. The specific objectives are: 1. to characterize the physical properties and chemical composition of selected sorghum biomass; 2. to develop chemical/physical pretreatment technologies to increase the fermentable sugars yields from sorghum biomass; 3. to increase the ethanol yields by identifying and reducing the effects of potential inhibitors formed during pretreatment of sorghum biomass; and 4. to investigate energy inputs and outputs associated with bioprocessing sorghum biomass.

High yield regular sorghum lines and bmr sorghum will be selected, grown under selected environment conditions. Plant samples will be collected at various stages of crop development and at maturity from each genotype. All samples will be analyzed for moisture content, cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, structural protein, acid insoluble residue content, etc. Crystallinity, morphology, and surface area accessible for cellulase binding will be analyzed using XRD, SEM, and confocal laser scanning microscopy. The chemical and physical properties will be linked to the fermentable sugars and ethanol yields. Optimized pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis procedures will be developed to increase fermentable sugars yield from sorghum biomass. The compounds derived from the pretreatment and hydrolysis of cellulosic biomass will be determined by HPLC and LC-MS/MS methods. Economic analysis on energy efficiency associated with bioprocessing sorghum biomass will be conducted.

The main results will be the finding of the impacts of chemical composition, microstructure, physical properties, pretreatment methods, and degradation products on bioprocessing of sorghum biomass for ethanol production. This will lead toward a study of the relationship among the “composition-structure-pretreatment-bioconversion sequence”. The chemical composition and physical properties will be correlated to genotype and production environment. Input/output flows and estimated processing cost will be used to conduct economic analysis. Outcomes will be communicated to the processing industry for use in implementation. The outcomes will include baselines of chemical composition of regular sorghum stover and bmr forage sorghum, and optimized pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis procedures for high sugar yields. At least one peer reviewed publications is expected from this research.

7. LSU scientists will be developing advanced technologies for biodiesel production.

The objectives of the proposed research are to use batch and continuous microwave technology to extract oil from traditional (soybeans) and alternative (rice bran, Chinese tallow tree seeds) feedstocks, to convert these oils into biodiesel, and to estimate the feasibility and economic viability of the process.

To achieve these objectives, the feedstock will be subjected to: pre-processing, oil extraction, separation, trans-esterification, and separation of trans-esterification products (biodiesel and glycerol). The results will be assessed using universally accepted analytical methods.

The outcomes of the proposed research project will (1) further develop and strengthen the bioenergy-targeted bioprocessing programs at LSU AgCenter; (2) develop new technologies for post-harvest processing of biodiesel feedstock, and (3) accelerate the technology transfer process from research to commercialization using existing agreements with industry partners.

8. Texas A&M University researchers will be studying the use of animal waste in coal-fired plants.

The specific goal of the proposed research is to demonstrate the use of CB as a co-fired fuel in Low NOx burners and demonstrate the new technology in reducing NOx and Hg. The proposed work falls into four broad objectives/tasks: 1. CB fuel and coal characteristics; 2. facility and experiments; 3. modeling, and 4. economics.

The tasks are selected so as to supplement the ongoing U.S. Department of Energy project in developing new technology and providing an additional market for CB as fuel in coal fired plants.

9. KSU researchers will research ways to break the cost barrier for bio-ethanol.

The long-term goal of the proposed work is to develop reactive adsorption technology for the efficient technical-scale recovery of ethanol from fermentation broths. Unlike conventional ethanol recovery systems, where separation of ethanol from water relies upon differences in the boiling points of the components, in the proposed system, separation will be achieved by selectively reacting ethanol with a chemical moiety tethered to the surface of a solid support and subsequently reversing the reaction to recover purified product.

This revolutionary approach for recovering ethanol from fermentation broth has the potential for reducing production costs by 40%. Literature data demonstrates that moieties exist which will selectively and reversibly react with ethanol to form stable products. An increase in temperature is all that is needed to reverse the reaction. The challenge is to identify a reactive moiety that has very high specificity for ethanol in the presence of water and for which the moiety-ethanol product can be converted back into the individual molecules with only moderate energy input. Project objectives are to: 1. evaluate the feasibility of recovering ethanol from fermentation broth via solid-phase reactive adsorption. 2. evaluate the capacity of the adsorbent to be regenerated and reused. 3. prepare a preliminary process design and determine energy requirements for the proposed system.

10. Finally, another KSU team will develop a multifunctional frequency-response permittivity sensor for biodiesel concentration measurement and impurity detection.

The aims of this project are: 1. develop a portable sensor for quick measurement of blend ratio and impurity concentrations for biodiesel; 2. to develop an embedded blend-ratio sensor to assist fuel-injection adjustment, and 3. to prove the accuracy, reliability, and durability of the sensors through a well-designed experiment.

All filed proposals were reviewed for technical merit and regional impact by experts representing a wide variety of career disciplines. Many more proposals were worthy of funding, according to Clarence Watson, director of the Sun Grant Initiative's. "We�re optimistic that the Sun Grant Initiative will continue to grow, enabling us to fund additional projects in the coming years," Watson added.

Oklahoma State University: Sun Grant Initiative, South Central Region homepage.

South Central Region Sun Grant Initiative 2007 Awards: DOT Biobased Transportation Research Program. Regional Competitive Grants [*.doc] - August 2007.

Eurekalert: Sun Grant initiates new funding for biobased energy - August 13, 2007.


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