Location: Sustainable Biofuels and Co-Products
2007 Annual Report
Development of the ERRC 2007 Dry Grind Ethanol Process and Cost Model and Distribution to Customers World-wide. Researchers, business people, non-profits, and students all over the world are interested in learning about the costs and processes for making fuel ethanol. However, companies who build ethanol plants keep all this information confidential, so little public information is available. At the Eastern Regional Research Center, ARS in Wyndmoor, PA, scientists and engineers developed the 2007 version of a sophisticated computer model of the costs and processes involved in making fuel ethanol. The computer model contains all unit operations and product streams in a state-of-the-art ethanol plant and it predicts actual cost for production of fuel ethanol in a 40 million gallon per year facility under defined costs for feedstock, chemicals, labor, and utilities. The model was provided by request to 118 customers around the world, including scientists and engineers at other ARS locations, Iowa State University, EPA, Black and Veatch, ADM, PNNL, University of California, Berkley, University of Illinois, Purdue University, the National Resources Defense Council, and Eastman Chemical Company. This model, the only publicly available one of its type, is used around the world for educational and research purposes. It allows researchers and others to understand the fuel ethanol process and to conduct research which will lower the cost of fuel ethanol and the amount of fossil energy used in its production. This research supports the ARS National Program 307, Bioenergy and Energy Alternatives Component 1, Ethanol Process Efficiencies.
Providing Technical Information on Biofuels Production to EPA for Rule Making. The Environmental Protection Agency is charged with Rule Making for the Energy Act of 2005, which involves the production of fuel ethanol and biodiesel. EPA, however, does not have experts on fuel ethanol or biodiesel production processes and economics. Researchers from the Crop Conversion Science & Engineering Research Unit, Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, PA provided assistance to the EPA by providing both technical and economic information based on their modeling activities for soybean based biodiesel, and ethanol produced from corn thru the dry grind process and the corn wet milling process. The information provided allowed EPA to make rules for the Energy Act of 2005 that reflect current technology and economics. All companies and citizens affected by the Energy Act of 2005 will benefit by these science-based rules. This research supports the ARS National Program 307, Bioenergy and Energy Alternatives Component 1, Ethanol Process Efficiencies.
Provided Economic Analysis for Use of Pearl Millet as a Feedstock for Fuel Ethanol Production. Pearl millet has been proposed as a new feedstock for fuel ethanol production but no information was available on the economics of producing fuel ethanol from this grain. Therefore, ARS researchers from the Crop Conversion Science & Engineering Research Unit, Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor PA worked with ARS researchers at Tifton GA to analyze the economics of the process. The results showed that pearl millet, with its high starch, oil, and protein content is an economically viable feedstock. It was estimated that if pearl millet sold at the same price as corn, that the ethanol plant would be at least as profitable, if not more, than a corn plant. Since pearl millet grows outside the Corn Belt in dry areas where corn can't grow, it may become a valuable alternative to corn for making fuel ethanol in local ethanol plants, rather than railing in corn from distant locations. This information will benefit researchers and companies considering this grain as a feedstock for fuel ethanol production. This research supports the ARS National Program 307, Bioenergy and Energy Alternatives Component 1, Ethanol Process Efficiencies.
Development of a Fluidized-Bed Pyrolysis Reactor for Production of Fuels and Chemicals from Agricultural Residues, Energy Crops, and Animal Wastes. Pyrolysis is a process that holds great potential for conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into liquid fuels and chemicals. During pyrolysis, biomass is heated at high temperatures in the absence of oxygen to create a liquid (bio oil), that may be refined to gasoline, diesel, and coproducts. Although fluidized-bed pyrolysis of woody biomass has been performed, little work has been done on agricultural residues and herbaceous energy crops. We developed a 3-inch pilot-scale fast pyrolysis fluidized-bed reactor to produce bio oil and coproducts. We successfully operated the reactor and produced bio-oil from switchgrass, alfalfa stems and chicken litter. Our reactor design is one of the first to successfully operate on herbaceous grasses as feedstock. The successful production of bio-oil in our Unit was a subject of an ARS news report “ARS Bio-Oil Technology Heats Up” (ARS Magazine of April, 2007) and was picked up by other news wires around the world including News Blaze, Farmers News for New Zealand, and Grainnet’s Breaking News in Decatur, IL. This research has significant potential impact for poultry processors who have excess chicken litter to dispose. Perdue Farms, one of the largest poultry grower/processors in the U.S. is entering into a CRADA with ARS to produce and characterize bio-oil from chicken litter using the reactor and to design a scale-up prototype for a larger production at Perdue. This research supports the ARS National Program 307, Bioenergy and Energy Alternatives Component III. Energy Alternatives for Rural Practices and Component IV. Energy Crops.
Taylor, F., Kim, T., Goldberg, N.M., Flores, R.A. 2007. Uniformity of distribution of anhydrous ammonia into shelled corn in a continuous ammoniator. Transactions of the ASABE 50(1):p.147-152.
Shin, H., Mcclendon, S., Le, T., Taylor, F., Chen, R. 2006. A complete enzymatic recovery of ferulic acid from corn residues with extracellular enzymes from neosartorya spinosa nrrl 185. Biotechnology and Bioengineering.V.95, No. 6.p.1108-1114.
Moreau, R.A., Flores, R.A., Hicks, K.B. 2007. The composition of functional lipids in hulled and hulless barley, in fractions obtained by scarification and in barley oil. Cereal Chemistry Vol 84, No. 1, p.1-5.
Boateng, A.A., Jung, H.G., Adler, P.R. 2006. Pyrolysis of energy crops including alfalfa stems, reed canarygrass, and eastern gamagrass. 2006. Fuel 85,p.2450-2457.
Boateng, A.A., Hicks, K.B., Flores, R.A., Gutsol, A. 2007. Pyrolysis of hull-enriched byproducts from the scarification of hulled barley (hordeum vulgare l.). Journal of Analytical & Applied Pyrolysis 78, p95-103.
Boateng, A.A., Banowetz, G.M., Steiner, J.J., Barton, T.F., Taylor, D.G., Hicks, K.B., El Nashaar, H., Sethi, V.K. 2007. Gasification of kentucky bluegrass (poa pratensis i.) straw in a farm-scale reactor. Biomass and Bioenergy, 31:153-161.
Boateng, A.A., Cooke, P.H., Hicks, K.B. 2007. Microstructure development of chars derived from high-temperature pyrolysis of barley (hordeum vulgare l.) hulls. Fuel 86, p.735-742
Boateng, A.A., Anderson, W.F., Phillips, J.G. 2007. Production of bermudagrass for bio-fuels: effect of two genotypes on pyrolysis product yield. Energy and Fuels 21, p.1183-1187.
Boateng, A.A., Daugaard, D.E., Goldberg, N.M., Hicks, K.B. 2007. Bench-scale fluidized-bed pyrolysis of switchgrass for bio oil production. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research 46, p.1891-1897.
Sanderson, M.A., Adler, P.R., Boateng, A.A., Casler, M.D., Sarath, G. 2006. Switchgrass as a biofuels feedstock in the USA. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 86(5):1315-1325.