November 13th, 2014 USDA Tour in Wyndmoor, PA

By: Lyndsay Fitzer

With growing interest in alternative energy a tour was organized for the DVS-AIChE section at the USDA site in Wyndmoor, PA. About 30 attendees gathered for a catered dinner first and then a well prepared tour with a focus on four main areas. Peggy Tomasula began with her research on Dairy and Functional Food research. Her group’s mission is to solve “critical problems in utilization of milk and of fruit and vegetable residues from specialty crops by creating new concepts in science and technology to develop high-quality, value-added functional foods and consumer products that help improve human health and well-being.” You can read more about Peggy Tomasula in this link.

Next Dr. Akwasi Boateng and Neil Goldenberg summarized their extensive efforts towards renewable fuel standards. 21 billion gallons of advanced bio-fuels will need to be produced by 2022. “The largest source of feedstock to produce these advanced biofuels is lignocellulosic biomass, including woody materials, herbaceous grasses and crop residues.” Fast pyrolysis has been researched to create pyrolysis oil (bio-oil). Currently pyrolysis oil is corrosive and unstable, creating processing problems. A catalyst was added in order to remove oxygen and results in hydrocarbons. A study was done on oak and oxygen was reduced from 40 wt% to about 17 wt%. Find more about there research by following this link.

Dr. John Nghiem has a project titled “Sorghum Biorefining: Integrated Processes for Converting All Sorghum Feedstock Components to Fuels and Co-Products.” The Objective is to “Develop technologies that … enable the commercial production of new co-products at sorghum-based biorefineries.” He also is developing technologies that enable the commercial production of marketable C5-rich and C6-rich sugar streams from sorghum lignocellulosic into fuels and chemicals. Lastly he currently researches to “develop technologies that enable the use of byproducts and wastes generated in ethanol and other fermentation processes in the sorghum biorefinery for production of energy and chemicals.” More about John’s research by following this

Lastly, Dr. Robert Moreau has been researching the project titled “Enable New Marketable, Value-Added Coproducts to Improve Biorefining Profitability.” His objective is to fractionate sorghum and grain-derived brans into new commercially-viable coproducts or energy/fuels. He also aims to develop commercially-viable, value-added carbohydrate, cellulose, hemicellulose based co-products. Finally he is enhancing biodiesel quality, low temperature operability, and reducing quality-related limitations of biodiesel produced from trap and float greases. Lastly, he is enabling the commercial production of alkyl-branched and aryl-branched fatty acids. Read more by clicking here.