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Iowa State researchers developing system to efficiently convert biomass to ethanol
Date:3/20/2008

AMES, Iowa 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 theyll support the research with a two-year grant of up to $944,899. The departments are awarding $18.4 million over three years to 21 universities and companies for biomass research, development and demonstration projects.

These grants help fund the innovative research needed to develop technologies and systems that lead to the production of bio-based products and biofuels, said Ed Schafer, the U.S. secretary of agriculture.

Increasing supplies of renewable energy and using more energy efficient technologies must continue to play an indispensable role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting the rapidly growing demand for energy, said Samuel Bodman, the U.S. secretary of energy.

Victor Lin, a professor of chemistry and director of the Center for Catalysis, will lead the Iowa State project. The project also includes Robert C. Brown, the Iowa Farm Bureau Director of the Bioeconomy Institute; George Kraus, the director of the Institute for Physical Research and Technology; Marek Pruski, a scientist for the Department of Energys Ames Laboratory located at Iowa State; and Justinus Satrio, a project manager at the Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies.

Theyre working to develop a biomass-to-ethanol system that would work like this: Plant biomass such as corn stalks and switchgrass would be broken down by fast pyrolysis, a process that uses heat at 900 degrees Fahrenheit in the absence of oxygen to convert biomass into a bio-oil. The bio-oil would be gasified with steam and/or oxygen at 1,100 to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit to produce a synthesis gas, a mixture of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, carbon dioxide and short-chain hydrocarbon gases.
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Contact: Victor Lin
vsylin@iastate.edu
515-294-3135
Iowa State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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