Grain News

Eastern Regional Research Center Displays Research on Hulless Barley for Ethanol, Alternative Biodiesel Feedstocks, Thermochemical and Continuous Fermentation Processes

Date Posted: December 7, 2007

Photo Tour of ERRC

by Myke Feinman, BioFuels Journal Editor

The Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC), a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, hosted a tour Nov. 28 at its Wyndmoor, PA site, for those attending the Eastern Region BBI Biofuels Workshop, Nov. 28-30, in Philadelphia, PA.

The tour included a look at several of the ERRC's current research projects:

• Continuous Fermentation and Stripping of Ethanol, Dr. Frank Taylor, research chemical engineer.

Taylor is currently conducting research, which started in October, on a continuous process of fermenting corn.

Ethanol plants usually use a batch process which starts and stops.

Taylor believes a continuous process has less chance of contamination, will be more energy efficient, and will reduce the cost of ethanol production.

• Thermochemical Conversion of Lignocellulosic Biomass to Liquid Fuels, Hydrogen, Dr. Akwasi Boateng, research chemical engineer.

This process uses pyrolysis to obtain bio-oils, gasification for synthetic gas, which can be synthesized to Fischer Tropsch liquids, or combustion of the biomass "as is" for combined heat and power.

Work is focusing on production of bio-oils that can be subsequently refined to renewable gasoline and diesel.

• Barley Initiative for Eastern United States: Saving the Bay, Farms and Farmers. Dr. John Nghiem and Dr. Kevin Hicks, researchers.

This project will study the use of hulless barley for conversion to ethanol.

Hulless barley can be grown in the winter on the same land currently utilized for corn and soybean rotations, helping add income to farmers and providing a new feedstock for ethanol.

It also decreases inputs on the soil, and prevents soil erosion and nutrient leaching, helping preserve the environment.

• Biodiesel-New Processes, New Feedstocks and New Uses for Glycerol, Dr. Mike Haas, research chemist.

This research is studying alternative feedstocks to soybeans for biodiesel from such commodities as bone meal and distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS).

Bone meal is waste after an animal is slaughtered, representing 50 percent of the animal which, Haas said, could be converted to 95 million gallons per year (MMGY) of biodiesel.

Another alternative is DDGS, a coproduct from ethanol plants, that contains enough corn oil to annually produce over 200 MMGY of biodiesel.

• Technical Modeling and Cost Engineering for Renewable Fuels Research. Andrew McAloon, senior cost engineer.

This study is creating models to determine the economic strengths and weaknesses of processes, allowing commercial operations to increase efficiencies and maximize profits.

For more information, call 215-233-6400.

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