"It looks like something you could pour on your pancakes," he said. "In many respects, it is similar to molasses."
Brown, in fact, calls it "pyrolytic molasses."
That's because it was produced by the fast pyrolysis of biomass such as corn stalks or wood chips. Fast pyrolysis involves quickly heating the biomass without oxygen to produce liquid or gas products.
"We think this is a new way to make inexpensive sugars from biomass," said Brown, an Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering, the Gary and Donna Hoover Chair in Mechanical Engineering and the Iowa Farm Bureau Director of Iowa State's Bioeconomy Institute.
That's a big deal because those sugars can be further processed into biofuels. Brown and other Iowa State researchers believe pyrolysis of lignocelluslosic biomass has the potential to be the cheapest way to produce biofuels or biorenewable chemicals.
Brown and Iowa State researchers will present their ideas and findings during tcbiomass2011, the International Conference on Thermochemical Conversion Science in Chicago Sept. 28-30. On Thursday, Sept, 29, Brown will address the conference with a plenary talk describing how large amounts of sugars can be produced from biomass by a simple pretreatment before pyrolysis. He'll also explain how these sugars can be economically recovered from the products of pyrolysis.
A poster session following Brown's talk will highlight thermochemical technologies developed by 19 Iowa State research teams, including processes that:
increase the yield of sugar from fast pyrolysis of biomass with a pretreatment that neutralizes naturally occurring alkali that otherwise interferes with the release of sugars
prevent burning of sugar released during pyrolysis by rapidly transporting it out of the hot reaction zone
recover sugar from the heavy end of bio-oil that has been separated into various fractions
separate sugars from the heavy fractions of bio-oil using a simple water-washing process.
In addition to Brown, key contributors to the pyrolysis research at Iowa State include Brent Shanks, the Mike and Jean Steffenson Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and director of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals based at Iowa State; Christopher Williams, professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering; Zhiyou Wen, associate professor of food science and human nutrition; Laura Jarboe, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering; Xianglan Bai, adjunct assistant professor of aerospace engineering; Marjorie Rover and Sunitha Sadula, research scientists at the Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies; Dustin Dalluge, a graduate student in mechanical engineering; and Najeeb Kuzhiyil, a former doctoral student who is now working for GE Transportation in Erie, Penn.
Their work has been supported by the eight-year, $22.5 million ConocoPhillips Biofuels Program at Iowa State. The program was launched in April 2007.
Brown said Iowa State will – literally – take a bus load of students and researchers to the Chicago conference to present their work on thermochemical technologies, including production of sugars from biomass.
"The Department of Energy has been working for 35 years to get sugar out of biomass," Brown said. "Most of the focus has been on use of enzymes, which remains extremely expensive. What we've developed is a simpler method based on the heating of biomass."
Robert C. Brown | EurekAlert!
Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel
The Nagoya Protocol Creates Disadvantages for Many Countries when Applied to Microorganisms
05.12.2016 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
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...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Information Technology
05.12.2016 | Earth Sciences