Location: Renewable Product Technology Research
Project Number: 5010-41000-184-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated
Start Date: Apr 27, 2020
End Date: Apr 26, 2025
The goal of this project is to create new chemical, biochemical, and chemocatalytic processes for economically producing value-added products from biomass, particularly from plant lipids and lignocellulose. Project team members will collaborate within the project, with other ARS researchers, and external partners to reach the following objectives: Objective 1. Enable biochemical/chemical processes to convert commodity crops, crop oils, and byproducts into value-added commercial bioproducts. Objective 2. Develop innovative lipid and biopolymer-based encapsulation systems for delivering, preserving, or promoting the activity of bioactive ingredients. Objective 3. Resolve difficult catalytic processes to produce consumer products and industrial chemicals from crop residue, lignocellulosics, and biorefinery byproducts.
This research will enhance the economic viability and competitiveness of U.S. agriculture commodities by expanding domestic and global market opportunities associated with the growing bioeconomy through the development of environmentally friendly, value-added food and non-food biobased technologies and products. Plant lipids such as vegetable oil and lecithin are already available in high purity, while lignocellulose is abundant yet chemically complex. To properly exploit these valuable resources, new chemical, biochemical, and chemocatalytic processes must be developed that selectively generate higher value products. The challenge, therefore, centers on finding the most effective chemical, biochemical, and/or chemocatalytic conversion methods, optimizing process reaction conditions for effecting the desired biomass transformations, isolation and purification of the targeted bioproducts, and demonstrating that the bioproducts have equivalent or superior properties to commercially available products. We have developed several distinctive and innovative approaches to reaching our goal. Our approach involves finding and modifying (in some cases) those catalysts and processes that perform the desired biomass transformation. Biochemical/biocatalytic and chemocatalytic methods will be developed to produce select chemicals from vegetable oils and lignocellulosics. Isolated enzymes will be used to convert lipids and lipid byproducts to consumer-targeted products. Designed multi-layered phospholipids and polysaccharide-based nanoparticles will be used to enhance and deliver bioactive ingredients in food and cosmetics. The sourcing of starting materials from agricultural feedstocks and byproducts in each of these endeavors to find solutions to the barriers that exist in the creation of a biobased economy.