Date: Jan 10, 2011 Source: (
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January 10, 2011
Scientists and engineers at the University of Washington's biofuels
and bioproducts laboratory in the School of Forest Resources are partnering with Forest Concepts,
LLC, a bioenergy feedstock technology developer in Auburn, Washington, to evaluate the bio
conversion efficiency of a new kind of woody biomass feedstock particle. The $80,000 grant to the UW
is a subcontract under Forest Concepts' Small Business Innovation Research contract with the U. S.
Department of Energy.
Forest Concepts is opt
imizing the size and physical properties of woody biomass feedstocks to improve
yields and reduce energy consumption for production of second
generation cellulosic biofuels. The UW
laboratory has a world
class team of researchers working on the biochemical
pathways to convert
cellulosic feedstocks into ethanol and other liquid biofuels.
Feedstock handling and processing account for much of the energy
consumed in biofuels facilities. For example, more than a thousand
horsepower may be used just to grind biomass into the small particles
needed for bioconversion. Using steam explosion to fu
biomass materials can improve ethanol yield, but the technology is slow
and both capital and energy intensive. Forest Concepts' innovative
biomass particles can be produced using 2/3 less energy; they also
have properties that will potentially r
educe the time needed for steam
explosion treatment and increase ethanol yields.
Renata Bura, assistant professor of natural products chemistry and Rick Gustafson, professor of
bioresource science, will lead the project for the UW, using the laboratory'
fermentation and analytical capabilities, including a newly installed "steam gun" for researching the
steam explosion treatment process.
"The focus on creating renewable sources of energy continues to gain momentum at the UW," said
fson. "This innovative project is part of an expanding body of UW research in bioresource
science and engineering. By using plant biomass that is either of low value for other products or that
can be grown on marginal land with minimal energy inputs, ou
r laboratory's goal is to produce biofuels
and bioproducts that are both environmentally and economically sustainable.
"We are looking forward to working with the research team on this project," said James Dooley, Forest
Concepts chief technology officer.
" The UW lab is uniquely qualified to work with our engineers on
biochemical conversion of woody materials to biofuels. We expect that the knowledge and data
gained from our cooperative research will improve the net energy balance for second generation
iofuels as well as reduce the capital for future facilities."
Mike Perry, CEO, adds, "During these difficult financial times for universities, Forest Concepts is
pleased to support research in the School of Forest Resources at the UW."
About Forest Conc
Forest Concepts LLC is a wood
based materials research and development
company that was formed in 1998 to apply sound science and disciplined design to solve important
societal problems. The firm is a nationally recognized leader in the development and
mmercialization of new uses for smallwood and biomass from urban sources and as co
forest management and wildfire protection in rural areas