Researchers at The NCERC recently announced that they have successfully produced ethanol from the cellulosic portion of the corn kernel.

“This research is demonstrated proof of the viability of ‘generation 2.0 ethanol,’” NCERC Director John Caupert said. “By utilizing existing technologies readily available in the commercial marketplace, the NCERC was able to produce a biofuel that builds upon the strengths of conventional corn ethanol and the promise of cellulosic ethanol, thus making bolt-on cellulosic ethanol a reality.”

Caupert added that the potential for cellulosic ethanol has significant immediate and long-term impacts on the biofuels industry generally and the ethanol industry specifically.

“Any of the 211 existing ethanol plants in the United States could be retrofitted with existing bolt-on technologies to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn without the need to build new facilities,” Caupert said. “This translates into opportunities for jobs and economic development, particularly in rural areas.

According to the Illinois Renewable Fuels Association, the ethanol industry provides more than 4,000 full-time jobs with an economic impact exceeding $5.29 billion in Illinois alone. There are currently 14 ethanol plants online in the state.

NCERC Assistant Director of Biological Research Sabrina Trupia emphasized the importance of the demonstration in future research opportunities.

“This is a significant milestone with immediate industry impact, but producing cellulosic ethanol from corn bran is also proof that cellulosic ethanol could be produced at NCERC utilizing any cellulosic feedstock,” Trupia said. “From a research perspective, this is only the first step in a very exciting road toward a future of energy security.”

The NCERC credits a series of actions, grants and capital gifts for making the research possible, including the formation of the NCERC Technical Advisory Committee in 2008, the Center’s 2009 Advanced Biofuels Initiative, and two significant capital gift donations: a corn fractionation system (2010) and fermentation suite (2011). These steps were complemented by a research and development grant through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

“It’s the culmination of four years of activity here at the Center, and a shining example of a public-private partnership that works,” Caupert said. “With our expanded fermentation capabilities, the Center is actively seeking industry, academic, and government agency partnerships.”

About the Center

The NCERC at SIUE is a nationally-recognized research center dedicated to the development and commercialization of biofuels, specialty chemicals, and other renewable compounds. Established through federal and state initiatives, with support from the Illinois and National Corn Growers Associations, the Center promotes rural development and economic stimulus and is providing tomorrow’s workforce with the skills needed to meet the challenges of a changing energy environment. Designated as a Biorefining Center of Excellence, the Center assists in developing the technologies needed to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil and provide consumers with economically sound and environmentally responsible fuel options. Research initiatives in renewable energy at the Center are supported through grants, contracts and donor contributions.


About SIUE

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) is a nationally recognized university dedicated to educating and developing professional and community leaders through its excellent faculty and academic programs. With a student-to-teacher ratio of 17-to-1, SIUE offers the advantages of a small, liberal arts college with the lowest tuition of all 12 state universities in Illinois. The emphasis on undergraduate education, complemented by faculty research, creates practical applications for student learning. In fall 2011, SIUE reached the largest overall enrollment in the history of the University with 14,235 students. In fiscal year 2011, SIUE faculty and staff received more than $34 million in grants and contracts for research, teaching and service initiatives. Only 25 minutes from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River's rich bottom land. SIUE has been shaping the future in the St. Louis Metro Area since 1957, offering quality undergraduate and graduate programs combined with a solid commitment to the economic development of Southwestern Illinois.

source: digitaljournal

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