Work to begin this year on UI biofuels facility

A $23 million center to test the viability of biofuels made from miscanthus and other plants will get underway at the University of Illinois later this year, a bridge between the research laboratory and full-scale commercial production.

The state-funded Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory will be built on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue, wrapping around the existing Agricultural Bioprocess Laboratory just east of the Stock Pavilion. It will be part of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

An outgrowth of the UI's Center for BioEnergy Research, the lab is designed as a pilot facility to test promising biofuel technologies on a larger scale to determine if they have commercial potential, known as "proof of concept," said Hans Blaschek, professor emeritus in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and director of the center.

"The whole idea is to take biomass of various types and convert it into biofuels and chemicals" on a scale slightly larger than a laboratory table, Blaschek said.

Faculty researching plants for biofuel - switchgrass or corn stover, for example - may show results in the laboratory but produce only a liter of fuel, he said. The new center would take it to the next level.

Read more at The News-Gazette.



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