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ConocoPhillips establishes $22.5M biofuels research program at Iowa State

Gregory Geoffroy. "The emerging consensus is that a very big part of increasing the nation's energy security will be producing fuels from plants. Iowa State scientists and engineers are well positioned to put science to work advancing biofuels technologies."

Robert C. Brown, the Iowa Farm Bureau Director of Iowa State's Office of Biorenewables Programs, said ConocoPhillips is especially interested in converting biomass to fuel through fast pyrolysis, a process that uses heat in the absence of oxygen to decompose biomass into a liquid product. This so-called bio-oil can be used as a heating oil or can be converted into transportation fuel at petroleum refineries.

Brown said ConocoPhillips also will sponsor studies of other thermochemical technologies that produce biofuels.

ConocoPhillips will fund research to understand and support environmental sustainability and rural economies. Studies will emphasize crop improvement and production, the harvesting and transportation of biomass and the impacts of biofuels on economic policy and rural sociology.

According to Brown, the details of specific projects have yet to be determined. He estimates the research program will involve 10 faculty members plus graduate students in the first year with additional researchers added in subsequent years. He noted that ConocoPhillips turned to Iowa State as a research partner, in part, because of Iowa State's expertise in a wide range of biorenewable technologies.

Iowa State's Office of Biorenewables Programs includes 145 faculty members with ties to 18 academic departments and 19 research centers and institutes across campus. Those researchers have attracted more than $57 million in sponsored research funding since 2002. The ConocoPhillips research program will add to that total.

"Iowa State University, with its central location in the agricultural belt and rich traditions of research and service, is uniquely positioned to set
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Source:Iowa State University


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