Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers Win R&D 100 Award for Ethanol Project

A research team led by Hans van Leeuwen, an Iowa State University professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, has been awarded a 2008 R&D 100 Award from R&D Magazine. The researchers are using fungi to clean up and improve the dry-grind ethanol production process. This is the 30th R&D 100 Award presented to researchers affiliated with Iowa State.

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.

Hans van Leeuwen, Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, (515) 294-5251,
Anthony L. Pometto III, Food Science and Human Nutrition, (515) 294-9425,
Mary Rasmussen, Graduate Student in Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, (515) 294-2140,

Samir Khanal, Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, University of Hawai‘i at Mânoa, (808) 956-3812,

Mike Krapfl | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Awards Funding:

nachricht Changing the Energy Landscape: Affordable Electricity for All
20.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

nachricht Emmy Noether junior research group investigates new magnetic structures for spintronics applications
11.10.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Awards Funding >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>