DOE awards Texas A&M AgriLife Research $2.2M to investigate ways to market bio waste from biofuel refineries
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a $2.2-million grant to researchers at Texas A&M AgriLife Research to investigate potential discoveries for waste products used in lignocellulosic biofuel production, turning them into valuable agents used in producing commercial products such as biodiesel and asphalt binding agents.
Dr. Joshua Yuan, AgriLife Research scientist and director of the Synthetic and Systems Biology Hub in the department of plant pathology and microbiology at Texas A&M University in College Station, is leading the team of researchers under the grant.
The conversion of lignocellulosic biomass has been around for many years, but many of the waste products can not be commercialized due to the configuration of these biorefineries. What we are trying to accomplish is developing a streamlined process where the biomass waste at these refineries can be fractionated to produce lipids for biodiesel, asphalt binder modifier and quality carbon fiber. All of these bioproducts can add great value to the economy and enhance their market value.—Dr. Yuan
Yuan said current lignocellulose bioconversion refineries burn off 60% of the lignin produced. Utilizing this lignin offers incentives such as improving the efficiencies of a biorefinery, reducing costs and lowering emissions.
Yuan said the work will include developing an integrated biorefinery program or a blueprint for future biorefinery development, with the goal of being able to scale up to one dry ton per day.
The project is both an academic and industrial correlation AgriLife Research is leading the project, while working with subcontracting companies and other institutions including ICM Inc. in Washington State and the University of Tennessee. They will help with technical, economic and material analysis.