Biorenewables

Ultrasound Technology Improves Biorenewable Fuel Production

Issue

Producing ethanol at the lowest cost possible is important to making the future of this alternative a bright one.

 

So What?

An Iowa State University research team has pioneered the use of ultrasound technology to improve the efficiency of ethanol production from not just corn, but also crop residues and other types of biomass. The researchers are using ultrasonic pretreatment of corn slurry for the dry-grain mill process. This results in both reduced corn particle size and enhanced release of fermentable sugars.

 

Impact

The team has done work that suggests using ultrasonic pretreatment of biomass, such as switchgrass, helps break down the materials for more efficient ethanol production. The researchers also have shown that ultrasonic energy can increase the biogas production potential of animal wastes, plus it can enhance the conversion rate of soybean oil to biodiesel.

 

Contact: David Grewell, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, (515) 294-2036, dgrewell@iastate.edu

 

Biodiesel Production May Also Provide Energy in Animal Diets

Issue

A co-product of soybean biodiesel production is crude glycerin or glycerol. Glycerol is commonly used in soaps, cosmetics and numerous other products, but expanded biodiesel production has made it available as a potential feed ingredient for the livestock industry.

 

So What?

Since energy values for feeding crude glycerol in animal diets did not exist, ISU animal nutritionists and meat scientists teamed with U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists to study the issue. They fed crude glycerol to growing swine, laying hens and broilers and measured performance, including growth rate, feed efficiency and meat quality.

 

Impact

The researchers found crude glycerol was used by swine and poultry with high efficiency and at levels up to 10 percent of the diet. Feed intake, growth and feed efficiency for pigs did not differ from typical corn-soybean diets fed to pigs.

 

Contact: Brian Kerr, Animal Science, (515) 294-0224, brian.kerr@ars.usda.gov

 

New Machinery Developed to Harvest Corn Stalks and Leaves

Issue

Researchers at Iowa State University are working on the development of harvesting and transportation systems to efficiently and economically move large quantities of material from the field to biomass processing facilities. The idea is to design, build and test machinery that will harvest corn stover -- the stalks, cobs and leaves -- when farmers bring in their grain.

 

So What?

This research is crucial to the development of a viable, cost effective feedstock supply chain to meet biorenewable energy goals.

 

Impact

A second generation, single pass harvest system has been developed and tested in field trials. The system has the potential to increase field productivity of the biomass harvester to that of a conventional grain harvest. Patents and licensing agreements are being negotiated.

 

Contact: Stuart Birrell, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, (515) 294-2874, sbirrell@iastate.edu