Ohioans Support Clean Energy

Ohio is voting “yes” for clean energy according to a new poll conducted by Yes for Ohio’s Energy Future. The survey found that Ohioans support the Ohio Jobs Initiative, the Ohio Clean Energy Initiative by a margin of 35 percent (64 percent likely to vote in favor versus 29 percent unlikely). The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), who found during the survey that 55 percent of respondents were not aware of the Jobs Initiative. The proposed policy needs 385,247 signatures by July 4, 2014 to be on the November 2014 ballot to enable Ohioans to vote on the bill.

According to Yes for Ohio’s Energy Future, who backs the initiative, the Jobs Initiative enacts an amendment that would provide $1.3 billion a year for 10 years from state general obligation bond funding in a comprehensive array of areas, including clean energy YES FOR OHIO'S ENERGY FUTURE CLEAN ENERGYindustries and energy-related public infrastructure projects in the areas of solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass, smart grid, along with other technologies. Funding includes research and development, academic and educational development as well as vocational training support.

Beginning in January 2014, the Ohio Energy Initiative Commission (OEIC) will begin accepting a limited number of early project proposals as part of the Fast Start Program; however, funding is limited to one quarter of the annual budget. Early project proposals may be placed on a prioritized list for funding, which is contingent on passage of the Initiative. Eligible categories of applicants include individuals, companies, non-profits, municipalities, and state agencies.

Project proposals for funding will be reviewed by independent reviewers at the OEIC through a simple open, transparent, and publicly-published process that evaluates the technical, economic, financial and environmental merits of each proposal.

Yes for Ohio’s Clean Energy future says the Ohio Clean Energy Initiative mirrors the enormously successful bi-partisan jobs initiative, Ohio Third Frontier, which began in 2002 under Republican Governor Bob Taft and continued under Democratic Governor Ted Strickland. The program is credited with producing 55,000 jobs at an average salary of $65,000 per year and at an overall Return on Investment of 9:1.

Cogeneration Explained

WASILENKOFF headshot-1The country is beginning to hear a lot about cogeneration, or cogen, but what it is exactly? How is it different, then say, a traditional electricity plant? To get the low-down on cogen I spoke with Chad Wasilenkoff, CEO of Fortress Paper whose company has been working with cogeneration and recently put its first cogen project online.

Q: Can you explain how cogeneration is different than a traditional electricity plant? For example, “wind” can provide power to the grid but is not considered cogen.

A: Wind will run a turbine and produce electricity similar to cogeneration. The difference is cogen also produces energy mechanically with steam to turn the turbine but also uses the thermal energy produced in the industrial process for additional energy needs. In conventional systems the heat is an unused byproduct of energy production. Cogen can also uses waste material as the energy source and in our case residual biomass from the paper making process.

Q: Obviously, cogeneration is not a new idea. Why do you think there is such a small rate of adoption/use of cogeneration in North America?

Cogen OutsideA: Cogeneration plants are capital intensive and the costs involved have to be balanced with the costs of other energy sources in the area. For industrial installations cogen works well for operations that use a lot of power, steam and heat. Cogen also tends to be more suitable in areas where the heat can be utilized. An example is Denmark where some cities get 95 percent of heat from cogeneration sites. There are also some small scale cogeneration units on the market for the individual homeowner.

Q: The potential for cogeneration is quite large. For cogen to reach its full potential, what would need to happen? Would there need to be legislation, tax credits, etc?

A: Yes assistance with financing, preferential pricing tax credits etc. would all help cogen to reach its full potential. Cogeneneration is already part of many plans for expanding renewable energy, According to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Q: Fortress Paper has made a significant investment in cogen at your Fortress Speciality Cellulose Mill in Thurso, Québec where you have constructed a cogen facility. Can you give the readers of DF more information about this project?

A: The Fortress Specialty Cellulose mill capex for the Cogen Plant was over Canadian $120 million and included a new turbine and generator with cooling tower and condenser, new biomass boiler, and new water treatment system among other items. Continue reading

USDA, DOE Fund $8M for Bioenergy Feedstocks

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) today announced $8 million in research grants to develop non-food feedstocks that can be used for bioenergy. USDA said the grants are part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to develop domestic renewable energy and advanced biofuels, providing a more secure future for America’s energy needs and enhancing rural economies.

USDA DOE Biomass Programs“Today’s investments are a critical piece of President Obama’s strategy to create a clean source of energy and advance the sustainable use of natural resources,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Innovative research plays a vital role in boosting rural economies and creating jobs in rural America, and the benefits this type of research may offer is another pressing reason we need a new Food, Farm and Jobs bill passed.”

Overall, the USDA and DOE projects are designed to improve biomass to be grown for biofuels including selected trees and grasses-by increasing their yield, quality and ability to adapt to extreme environments. Researchers will rely on the most advanced techniques of modern genomics to develop breeding and other strategies to improve the crops. The research will be conducted on switchgrass, poplar and pine, among other plants.

The potential benefits of this research range from decreasing oil imports to increasing options for American farmers. Because these non-food crops will be optimized to tolerate conditions such as drought and poor soils, they can be grown on marginal lands unsuitable for food crops, thereby avoiding competition with food production. Farmers will have the option to grow bioenergy crops in addition to other existing crop choices.

Fiscal Year 2013 awardees include:

USDA-NIFA-funded

  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $1,000,000
  • Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore., $1,000,000

DOE-funded

  • Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, Colo., $1,385,763
  • University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., $1,314,235
  • University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill., $998,564
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $863,576
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C., $1,543,490

New Waste Biomass Project Announced

Concord Blue USA, Inc. and LanzaTech have entered into an agreement to integrate their individually proven technologies to demonstrate the production of fuels and chemicals from waste materials.

Concord Blue TechnologyLanzaTech will install a Concord Blue Reformer at its Freedom Pines facility in Soperton, Georgia to convert waste biomass from regional forestry operations into syngas. The syngas will be converted by LanzaTech’s gas fermentation process into a range of biofuels and chemicals. The company says the integration and testing at Freedom Pines will serve as an important step towards commercialization of the integrated technologies for multiple projects that both companies have under contract and in development.

“As the U.S. continues to diversify its energy mix and produce more domestic energy, low carbon fuels derived from waste woody biomass and municipal solid waste will play an increasingly important role,” said Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech. “Our partnership with Concord Blue will enable us to extend our technology to these important resources.”

Concord Blue says it has developed a closed-loop, commercially proven, non-incineration process that recycles nearly any form of waste, including landfill waste and sewage sludge, into energy at virtually any scale. By working closely with leading businesses, governments and communities around the globe, Concord Blue creates tailored solutions that safely and effectively dispose of waste streams while producing clean energy through advanced waste conversion.

“This partnership and demonstration facility lays the foundation for the expeditious development of large scale projects we have been awarded, like the Four Forests Restoration Initiative (4FRI),” said Charlie Thannhaeuser, chairman and chief executive officer of Concord Blue. “This represents a critical step towards achieving our company’s objective to produce drop-in fuels from waste resources and bolster foreign oil independence by producing sustainable non fossil-based fuels.”

Genera Energy, UTIA Complete $5M Biofuels Grant

Genera Energy and the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) were awarded a $5 million grant in 2009 from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), to research and develop economical systems for bulk-handling and processing of chopped switchgrass and reduce the costs of baling in the field and subsequent bale grinding. Genera has announced that the research supported by the grant has been completed.

Funds from the grant were used by Genera Energy to add a bulk-format handling and research equipment to its existing Biomass Innovation Park facility, implementing new gI_135453_biomass-supply-chaintechnology best engineered to supply processed switchgrass within specification at the lowest cost. Genera’s added capabilities are unique in that they allow it to receive, convey, store, reclaim, discharge, and compact bulk-format switchgrass automatically with an effective, integrated system.

“Through this grant and by collaborating with Genera Energy, we’ve been able to evaluate existing switchgrass supply logistics and to develop ground-breaking systems that offer better and more cost-effective methods for handling, processing, and storing chopped switchgrass,” said Al Womac, Ph.D.,  professor of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science with UTIA and the project leader. “The funding began in 2009 and in that time we have been able to create and produce a fully-replicable system that saves money and time and which is logistically superior to traditional baling.”

Using scientific data collected during the research phases UTIA and Genera were able to develop innovative systems that were based on detailed analysis of switchgrass harvest and handling equipment and logistical efficiencies as well as material characteristics such as weight, particle size, bulk density, moisture content and other factors. Software was also developed to calculate effective field capacity, field efficiency, machine utilization and system limiting factors.

“Our collaboration with the University of Tennessee in the development of new feedstock logistics systems using chopped switchgrass has culminated in a first-of-its-kind system,” added Genera Energy President and CEO Kelly Tiller, Ph.D. “By working with our partners over the last several years, we’ve developed a fully-functioning and innovative biomass feedstock bulk supply chain. And in the process we are creating sustainable biomass feedstock systems that can be replicated on a larger scale, something we only imagined when Genera was first envisioned.”

Wisconsin Biomass-Fueled Power Plant Goes Online

We Energies has brought its biomass-fueled power plant located on the site of Domtar Corporation’s Rothschild, Wisconsin, paper mill into commercial operation Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 after testing and commissioning activities were successfully completed. Wood, waste wood and sawdust are being used to produce up to 50 megawatts (MW) of We-Energies-biomass-power-plantelectricity; steam provided by the plant is also supporting Domtar’s sustainable papermaking operations. In addition, Domtar’s use of the steam produced by the plant will help improve the paper mill’s energy efficiency and reduce overall emissions at the site by more than 30 percent.

“The addition of the biomass plant enables us to produce renewable energy on demand,” said Gale Klappa, We Energies chairman, president and chief executive officer. “That benefit is simply not available with solar or wind generation.”

The company’s renewable energy portfolio includes the state’s two largest wind developments – the 145-MW Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac County and the 162-MW Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County. Together, these three projects are capable of delivering nearly 360 MW of renewable energy, enough to supply approximately 120,000 homes.

“These renewable energy projects, fueled by Wisconsin resources, were developed largely through the talents of Wisconsin companies and Wisconsin labor,” added Klappa.

More than 400 workers contributed to the construction of the biomass plant, which also will support approximately 150 permanent jobs in the region, including independent wood suppliers and haulers from northern and central Wisconsin who will secure waste wood for the project.

Beetle-Infested Trees to be Turned into Biofuel

usda-logoTrees lost to beetle infestations might not be a total loss; they could be turned into biofuels. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded nearly $10 million in grants to a consortium of academic, industry and government organizations led by Colorado State University (CSU) to see if insect-killed trees in the Rocky Mountains could be a sustainable feedstock for bioenergy.

“Infestations of pine and spruce bark beetles have impacted over 42 million acres of U.S. forests since 1996, and a changing climate threatens to expand the threat from bark beetle on our forest lands,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “As we take steps to fight the bark beetle, this innovative research will help take the biomass that results from bark beetle infestation and create clean, renewable energy that holds potential for job creation and promises a cleaner future for America.”

There are many benefits to using beetle-killed wood for renewable fuel production. It requires no cultivation, circumvents food-versus-fuel concerns and likely has a highly favorable carbon balance. However, there are some challenges that have been a barrier to its widespread use. The wood is typically located far from urban industrial centers, often in relatively inaccessible areas with challenging topography, which increases harvest and transportation costs. In addition to technical barriers, environmental impacts, social issues and local policy constraints to using beetle-killed wood and other forest residues remain largely unexplored.

CSU researchers, together with other scientists from universities, government and private industry in the region, created the Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies (BANR) to address these challenges. The project will undertake comprehensive economic, environmental and social/policy assessment, and integrate research results into a web-based, user-friendly decision support system. CSU will collaborate with partners across four states to complete the project. Partners include: University of Idaho, University of Montana, Montana State University and the University of Wyoming, U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, National Renewable Energy Lab and Cool Planet Energy Systems.

The release goes on to say that they are exploring recent advances in scalable thermochemical conversion technologies to produce advanced liquid biofuel and co-products on-site.

Vilsack also points out that this type of program highlights why a new farm bill is needed.

Energy Entrepreneurs Present Ideas in Africa

West African entrepreneurs and companies presented 10 clean energy projects totaling over USD $8Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 9.20.36 AM0 million to invest in Accra during the West Africa Forum for Clean Energy Financing (WAFCEF). The projects ranged from biofuels to solar, to biomass and hydropower. More than 100 financiers, clean energy experts and representatives of financial institutions from Africa and around the world took place in the event.

WAFCEF was the final stage of a business plan competition launched in March 2013 by the Climate Technology Initiative Private Financing Advisory Network (CTI-PFAN) and the Ecowas Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), in partnership with the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) and other regional partners.

According to Joao Duarte Cunha, Coordinator of SEFA, “This initiative united like-minded partners interested in harnessing the entrepreneurial talent of the region to promote economic progress by using West Africa’s vast clean energy resources. WAFCEF really connected all the dots – entrepreneurs, ideas, advisory support and financing – and provided a platform for the often neglected smaller clean energy projects to succeed.”

The contest entailed the presentations of 10 qualified project sponsors who presented their business plans to potential investors and made a pitch for financing. The goal was to identify the most promising business ideas and unlock renewable energy and energy efficiency investment in West Africa. The 10 projects had been selected from over 70 submissions from across the ECOWAS region for their economic viability and environmental benefits. Before being presented at the Forum, each of them had received intensive mentoring from professional consultants.

SME Funds‘ Bioethanol Scale-Up Project from Nigeria was picked as the winner of the WAFCEF 2013 business plan competition. The $28 million Investment in the first round will go towards scaling up their renewable ethanol cooking gel production and clean cookstove manufacturing. Already over 1 million liters of cooking gel has been produced locally using 2G Cellulosic Bio-Ethanol technology from wastes such as water hyacinth and sawdust from Lagos saw mills. SMEFunds has already recruited over 15,000 Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 9.19.04 AMentrepreneurs through its Carbon Credit Network and helped them start green businesses that sell the cooking gel and stoves across Nigeria and West Africa.

“People are hungry for good alternatives to kerosene and other unsafe, dirty cooking fuels,” said SMEFunds Co-founder and CEO Femi Oye. “We started with the simple belief that cooking shouldn’t kill. Why should our women cook with tears?”

SMEFunds plans to reach over 10 million households across West Africa with clean cooking and renewable energy technologies.

Report: Renewable Energy Gains Market Share

Renewable energy sources, particularly solar, wind, and biofuels, continue to make gains when it comes to the share of energy produced and used in this country. According to SUN DAY Campaign, a non-profit research and educational organization, the latest numbers from U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows through the first half of this year, renewable energy made up 10 percent of U.S. energy consumption, 12 percent of domestic production and 14 percent of net electrical generation.

eiaCompared to the same time frame in 2012, overall renewable energy production, including conventional hydropower, was 2.00% higher while production from non-hydro renewables grew by 4.13%. Specifically, solar grew by 32.46% in 2013, wind by 20.14%, geothermal by 0.89%, and biomass by 0.42%. Hydropower slipped by 2.59% and biofuels by 5.92%.

Among the renewable energy sources, hydropower’s share during the first half of 2013 was 30.18%, biomass 25.26%, biofuels 20.18%, wind 18.80%, solar 3.19%, and geothermal 2.39%.

Production from all renewable energy sources, including conventional hydropower, is about 60% higher in 2013 than it was in 2003 while production from non-hydro renewable energy sources has more than doubled.

Over the past decade, domestic energy production from wind has increased by a factor of nearly 16 while output from both biofuels and solar is now about five times higher than in 2003. Geothermal has also grown – by about 30% – while biomass and hydropower have remained largely unchanged.

Domestic renewable energy production is outpacing both fossil fuels (11 percent) and nuclear (about 1 percent). Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign, says renewables are the real growth industries in the energy market over the past decade.

“If recent trends continue, they will eventually eclipse both fossil fuels and nuclear power.”

Report: Lack of Biofuels Puts Economy at Risk

daleIf the U.S. doesn’t make sufficient investments in biofuels, it could put the Nation’s economy at risk of a slowdown and could make the country face energy shortages. That’s the conclusions of a report from a professor of chemical engineering and a biofuel specialist at Michigan State University. In remarks to the Platts Biofuels and Chemicals conference in Chicago and posted on Platts.com, Bruce Dale cautioned against putting too many eggs in the fossil fuels basket, as well as possibly turning areas that are booming on petroleum now could become “ghost towns” once those supplies dry up.

“That’s where we’re heading” unless we take steps to ensure that biofuels become ever more sustainable and realistic, Dale, who is working on ways of turning grass into ethanol, said.

Successful economies require substantial power, Dale said, adding that fossil fuels significant challenges in terms of expense and likely future questions over supply.

For emerging economies, the cost of fossil fuels remained too expensive, while for established economies, there continue to be questions over the sustainability of supply.

Because of this, Dale said biofuels will have to play a substantial part in future energy supply. And to ensure that happens, further investment is needed.

Dale went on to say that current capacity and technology does not exist that would allow biomass to reach 50 percent greenhouse gas reduction goals by 2050. He says biomass needs to gain economies of scale soon, “or we’re going to be cooked.”

KiOR Looks to Double Capacity at Cellulosic Facility

kior_logo_CMYKCommercial scale cellulosic gasoline and diesel producer KiOR has announced plans to double the capacity of its Columbus, Mississippi facility. Officials expect the project, dubbed Columbus II, will cost approximately $225 million, will break ground within 90 days of raising the money needed and be finished building 18 months later.

Once completed with its latest technology improvements, KiOR expects that the Columbus II project will allow each Columbus facility to achieve greater yields, production capacity and feedstock flexibility than the original design basis for the existing Columbus facility, enabling KiOR to more quickly make progress towards its long-term goal of 92 gallons per bone dry ton of biomass.

Fred Cannon, KiOR’s President and CEO, says this project is an important step in the company’s long-term business plan, as it will make them profitable with lower capital costs and will take advantage of “operational and technological synergies between the two Columbus facilities.” He says it will also help accelerate plans for next year’s groundbreaking of another standard scale commercial production facility in Natchez, Mississippi.

Natural Power Expands Operations

Natural Power The Green HouseRt Hon Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, recently opened Natural Power’s newly expanded ControlCentre at their global headquarters, The Green House, located in the foothills of Rhinns of Kells in rural Dumfries and Galloway.

The company’s NP/ControlCentre (previously known as WindCentre) is a 24/7/365 operational control room, providing site management services round the clock for a range of renewable sectors including onshore and offshore wind, biomass and solar PV projects. Manned by experienced engineers, the 24 hour control room service is facilitated by a software solution for health & safety management, work order recording and access control – all in line with industry best practice, such as the RenewableUK Wind Turbine Safety Rules.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said during the event, “It’s great to see first-hand the work carried out at Natural Power’s ControlCentre. This shows the vital role renewables play in our energy mix and their contribution to our energy security. The Centre has already helped over 100 clients improve the efficiency of their wind turbines, increasing the amount of renewable electricity provided to the grid.

20130905-NaturalPower-5928The company’s Asset Management team currently manages 139 wind farms globally, including 14 sites in Ireland, representing 1,360 turbines. The company is also breaking into the U.S. market and is already providing services to a number of operational wind farms. This represents operational management of 37 percent and 20 percent of the UK’s and Irish installed onshore capacity respectively.

Commenting on the company’s acheivements, Natural Power’s Director of Asset Management, Andy Howie, said: “It is a great achievement to be in a position to double the size of NP /ControlCentre, and to know it has become the heart of one third of all operational sites in the UK.  As the sector continues to grow our focus remains on achieving the highest safety standards on site for all. We are extremely proud, at Natural Power, to be chosen as the No. 1 provider of Asset Management services in the UK.”

Davey also noted that is he “delighted” that Natural Power has chosen to expand the Centre’s services to solar and bioenergy sectors in the UK. “The UK has some of the best renewables in Europe,” said Davey, “and if we are to meet our carbon reduction and renewable targets, it is vital that we make the most of this potential.”

“I wish Natural Power every success with their endeavours,” added Davey.

Argonne Take Cues From Nature

Scientists working at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) are looking to nature’s catalysts, enzymes, for inspiration in their quest to find a more effective means of converting biomass into renewable fuel. The research is focused on inedible plant materials that contain cellulose (such as wood chips and switchgrass), which can be broken down into sugars and then converted into biofuels.

According to the researchers, it is a challenging process to commercialize because plant cell walls are tough and recalcitrant, meaning they naturally resist being broken down into sugars. Therefore this obstacle has made it difficult to produce biofuels at a cost and pace that can compete with petroleum-based transportation fuels.

ALCF researchTo address this issue, the research team from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado is using Mira, the ALCF’s 10-petaflops supercomputer, to conduct large-scale simulations of the physical behavior of cellulase enzymes. Naturally produced by some fungi and bacteria, these particular enzymes are being modeled because they effectively trigger the chemical changes necessary to degrade hardy plant materials into life-sustaining sugars.

“Through our studies at the ALCF, we hope to uncover how these enzymes can be manipulated to develop superior biological catalysts for improved biofuel production,” said Michael Crowley, NREL senior scientist and project principal investigator.

Crowley and his colleagues are carrying out the simulations to gain a fundamental understanding of the complex cellulose-to-sugar conversion process, known as enzymatic hydrolysis. With this information, researchers will be able to identify potential enzyme modifications and then feed their discoveries into experiments aimed at developing and validating improved catalysts. Continue reading

Cool Planet Chooses Louisiana for Biofuel Project

Cool Planet Energy Systems, a developer of small scale biorefineries which convert non-food biomass into gasoline, jet fuel, and soil biochar, has announced the selection of Alexandria, Louisiana as the location for their first commercial biorefinery. The facility will be located on the Port of Alexandria in Rapides Parish and will serve as a showcase facility. The goal of Cool Planet is to build hundreds of additional small scale biorefineries across the U.S. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2014.

The site was chosen due to tremendous support from the city of Alexandria, and the economic development team from the state of Louisiana. The location provides access to an abundance of renewable biomass feedstock, the ability to load fuel onto barges, rail lines and trucks, and local talent to operate the facility.

“Louisiana is known for its substantial oil interests, but now will also have the distinction of being home to the first, of what is planned to become many, production facilities for Cool Cool PlanetPlanet’s renewable, high-performance gasoline and soil enhancing biochar,” said CEO Howard Janzen. “Our goal for the Alexandria facility is to be economically competitive with conventional fuels made from non-renewable crude oil.”

The company believes it will have one of the lowest capital costs per plant in the refining industry, with project economics that work at facilities 100 times smaller than conventional refineries, while being able to use a wide variety of renewable biomass materials as inputs. construction is expected to be complete before the end of 2014.

In other news, Cool Planet has completed a joint vehicle road test with Ventura County, California. Officials ran a 5 percent blend of the company’s renewable, low-carbon gasoline for six weeks during their normal operations. The demonstration received special approval from the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

External testing of the fuel was conducted at various points during the fleet demonstration. Carbon-14 dating proved that Cool Planet was successfully turning renewable plant material into drop-in fuel.

Dakota Bioprocessing Consortium Established

Four universities in North Dakota and South Dakota have been awarded a $6 million grant to establish the Dakota Bioprocessing Consortium (DakotaBioCon) to conduct collaborative research. The award is funded by the National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. The consortium includes North Dakota State University, the University of North Dakota, South Dakota State University and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

South Dakota LogosThe primary goal of DakotaBioCon is to establish a multi-state, multi-institution, multi-disciplinary research collaboration that will produce economically viable renewable replacements for existing petrochemicals. The research collaborators will use lignin as a starting raw material. Lignin binds cellulose fibers in wood and plants and will be converted into renewable chemical and polymeric alternatives to petrochemicals.

“The combined research talent at the four institutions in two states provides an opportunity to join forces to develop DakotaBioCon, maximizing research in the field of renewable replacements to existing petrochemicals,” said Philip Boudjouk, co-chair of North Dakota EPSCoR.

DakotaBioCon will leverage its relationships with existing programs and centers such as UND/NDSU’s Sustainable Energy Research Initiative and Supporting Education (SUNRISE) program, the SDSU-based SunGrant Initiative, and the SDSMT/SDSU-based Center for Bioprocessing Research and Development to achieve its objectives.

Phyllis E. Johnson, co-chair of North Dakota EPSCoR said of the project, “This project provides an important opportunity to use our research talents to create new, high-value products from agricultural waste products, thus strengthening further the largest sector of our state economy.” Continue reading