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 TIB advances implementation of transition towards Open Access in high energy physics
13.03.2018 | Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB)

nachricht Additional 5 Million Euro Funding for Aging Research in Jena, Germany
09.03.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Awards Funding >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>