Iowa State University and University of Hawai‘i researchers have won national recognition for their work to grow microscopic fungus in leftovers from ethanol production in an effort to improve the efficiency of the corn-to-ethanol conversion process.
The project has been named a winner of a 2008 R&D 100 Award presented by R&D Magazine. The Chicago Tribune has called the awards, presented annually since 1963, the “Oscars of Invention.” This is the 30th R&D 100 Award presented to a project affiliated with Iowa State.
An award letter said editors and a judging panel consider the project “one of the top 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year.”
The award goes to Hans van Leeuwen, an Iowa State professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering and the leader of the research project; Anthony L. Pometto III, a professor of food science and human nutrition; Mary Rasmussen, a graduate student in environmental engineering and biorenewable resources and technology; and Samir Khanal, a former Iowa State research assistant professor who’s now an assistant professor of molecular biosciences and bioengineering at the University of Hawai‘i at Mânoa.
The award winners will be featured in the September issue of R&D Magazine. They’ll also be honored at an Oct. 16 banquet at Chicago’s Navy Pier.
Van Leeuwen said the researchers appreciate the recognition of their work and hope it will help them commercialize their processing technology.
The researchers are focused on using fungi to clean up and improve the dry-grind ethanol production process. That process grinds corn kernels and adds water and enzymes. The enzymes break the starches into sugars. The sugars are fermented with yeasts to produce ethanol.
The fuel is recovered by distillation, but there are about five gallons of leftovers for every gallon of fuel that’s produced. Those leftovers, known as stillage, contain solids and other organic material. Most of the solids are removed by centrifugation and dried into distillers dried grains that are sold as livestock feed, primarily for cattle.
The remaining liquid, known as thin stillage, still contains some solids, a variety of organic compounds from corn and fermentation as well as enzymes. Because the compounds and solids can interfere with ethanol production, only about 50 percent of thin stillage can be recycled back into ethanol production. The rest is evaporated and blended with distillers dried grains to produce distillers dried grains with solubles.
The researchers added a fungus, Rhizopus microsporus, to the thin stillage and found it would feed and grow. The fungus removes about 80 percent of the organic material and all of the solids in the thin stillage, allowing the water and enzymes in the thin stillage to be recycled back into production.
The fungus can also be harvested. It’s a food-grade organism that’s rich in protein, certain essential amino acids and other nutrients. It can be dried and sold as a livestock feed supplement. Or it can be blended with distillers dried grains to boost its value as a livestock feed and make it more suitable for feeding hogs and chickens.
Van Leeuwen said the technology can save United States ethanol producers up to $800 million a year in energy costs. He also said the technology can produce ethanol co-products worth another $400 million per year.
The project was also the winner of the 2008 Grand Prize for University Research presented by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers.Contacts:
Samir Khanal, Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, University of Hawai‘i at Mânoa, (808) 956-3812, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Krapfl | Newswise Science News
The quest for the oldest ice on Earth
14.11.2016 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Empa Innovation Award for new flame retardant
09.11.2016 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy