Location: Sustainable Biofuels and Co-Products
2010 Annual Report
In 2009 we published a landmark study of the US ethanol industry and found corn production costs in the US declined by 62% from 1983-2005 years due to better production methods and improved yields. We also found that processing costs for conversion of corn to ethanol declined by 45% from 1983-2005 and the total costs of production (including capital and net corn costs) declined approximately 60% during this period. Energy costs also decreased approximately 50% over this period despite increasing costs of energy.
We facilitated the development of a new winter barley ethanol industry to create new economic opportunities for rural areas of the Mid Atlantic States. We worked with partners to develop new improved varieties of winter barley. We developed a new EDGE barley ethanol process that takes less energy and produces more ethanol and higher quality DDGS from barley. We also developed new nutraceutical coproducts and fractionation processes for the barley ethanol process. We developed CRADAs with industry and partnered with a group that has now built the first Advanced winter barley ethanol plant in the US.
We created the first Thermochemical-conversion (pyrolysis) research program in ARS and grew it from a small component to a major component of the project. During this project, we acquired laboratory scale pyrolysis equipment, analytical equipment, and built a unique pilot scale pyrolysis reactor. We created one of the top pyrolysis laboratories in the world and did fundamental and applied research studies on numerous feedstocks, including switchgrass, oak, alfalfa, soy straw, barley straw, hulls and DDGS, guayule, reed canary grass, corn stover, pennycress, canola, and others. We also advanced the way for distributed catalytic pyrolysis to be a likely future way for the local production of biomass based bio-crude oil that could be refined in our present day petroleum refining industry. During this project, numerous CRADAs and competitive grants were obtained and major US and foreign companies have become stakeholders and partners in the research.
We developed and distributed 1000’s of copies of a sophisticated computer model of the dry grind ethanol process. The computer model contains all unit operations and product streams in a state-of-the-art ethanol plant and it predicts available one of its type, is used around the world for educational and research purposes actual cost for production of fuel ethanol in a 40 million gallon per year facility under defined costs for feedstock, chemicals, labor, and utilities. 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. It was also used by the EPA for rulemaking for RFS2.
Taylor, F., Marquez, M., Johnston, D., Goldberg, N.M., Hicks, K.B. 2010. Continuous High-solids corn liquefaction and fermentation with stripping of ethanol. Bioresource Technology. 101:4403-4408.
Mullen, C.A., Boateng, A.A., Hicks, K.B., Goldberg, N.M., Moreau, R.A. 2010. Analysis and comparison of bio-oil produced by fast pyrolysis from three barley biomass/byproduct streams. Energy and Fuels. 24:699-706.
Moreau, R.A. 2009. Lipid analysis via HPLC with a charged aerosol detector. Lipid Technology. 21:191-193.
Srinivasan, R., Hicks, K.B., Challa, R.K., Wilson, J., Kurantz, M.J., Moreau, R.A. 2010. Fractionation of barley flour using a combination of sieving and air classification. American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. 53(2):503-508.