Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Iowa State engineers hope to build better roads by using ethanol co-products

17.10.2007
Iowa's soil is great for growing corn. But it's not so great for building roads.

Soil around the Midwest is mostly soft clay and till deposited by glaciers, said Halil Ceylan, an Iowa State assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering. It's hardly the bedrock engineers would like for a good, solid roadbed.

And so the soil under Iowa's roads often has to be mixed with chemicals that bind and stabilize soil particles. That improves soil strength. And that makes for better roads.

While stabilizing soils for road construction is standard practice around the Midwest, there are limits to its effectiveness. Ceylan said costs can be high and current practices only work with certain soil types and site conditions. So civil engineers are always looking for better, cheaper and more efficient ways to get the job done.

That has Ceylan and Kasthurirangan Gopalakrishnan, a research scientist in civil, construction and environmental engineering, experimenting to see whether lignin, a co-product of producing ethanol from plant fibers, could be a good soil stabilizing agent.

Their research is partially supported by a $93,775 grant from the Grow Iowa Values Fund, a state program that promotes economic development. The Iowa Highway Research Board, Grain Processing Corp. of Muscatine and Iowa State's Office of Biorenewables Programs are also supporting the project.

Using lignin to stabilize soil make sense. Lignin is the glue that holds plant fibers together. It's the tough stuff that allows corn plants to stand up to a summer thunderstorm. But there's not a lot of value in it when it's removed from corn stalks, switchgrass or other biomass feeding the production of cellulosic ethanol.

As researcher Andy Aden of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado recently told National Geographic magazine, "The old joke is you can make anything from lignin but money."

Ceylan said previous Iowa State studies of lignin from the paper-making industry found it to be a cementing agent that could be of value for soil stabilization. But nobody has determined if that's also the case for lignin from ethanol production.

Ceylan thinks it will be.

"It is expected that the lignin derived from lignocellulosic biorefineries will see similar success, if not better," he wrote in his proposal for a Grow Iowa Values Fund grant.

To find out, Ceylan and his research team will head to the soils engineering lab in Iowa State's Town Engineering Building where they'll prepare soil samples containing various percentages of lignin. The mixtures will be tested and evaluated for strength, stability and other properties.

The researchers hope they come up with a new technology that's good for road builders, good for drivers, good for the environment and good for the cellulosic ethanol industry.

The research could also be a big help to the people who build and maintain Iowa's roads, especially as ethanol plants increase truck traffic through rural areas.

"When I talk to county engineers they're very concerned about increased traffic," Ceylan said. "Roads are designed according to traffic forecasts and suddenly there is a lot more truck traffic. This can be a cause of distress to the highway system. But, maybe we can also get the benefit of soil and road stabilization from these plants."

Halil Ceylan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iastate.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Engineers develop smart material that changes stiffness when twisted or bent
15.02.2018 | Iowa State University

nachricht Breaking local symmetry: Why water freezes but silica forms a glass
14.02.2018 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>