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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Bio-oils Research » Research » Research Project #439260

Research Project: Versatile Biobased Products with Multiple Functions

Location: Bio-oils Research

Project Number: 5010-41000-192-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Aug 4, 2020
End Date: Aug 3, 2025

Objective 1. Resolving processing technologies to convert low-quality and nonfood feedstocks into value-added biobased products. Sub-objective 1.A. Develop low-quality (vegetable oil refining wastes, used cooking oils and greases and residual oils from ethanol fermentation) and nonfood feedstocks for conversion to biodiesel and biobased products. Resolve pretreatment processes and eliminate (or minimize) needs for chemical preparation of low-quality and nonfood (LQNF) feedstocks. Sub-objective 1.B. Resolve final process technologies for converting low-quality and nonfood (LQNF) feedstocks to biodiesel and value-added coproducts. Objective 2. Enable commercial processing of new versatile biobased products useful in multiple markets. Sub-objective 2.A. Enable novel and cost-competitive biobased products with unique structures for applications in multiple industrial sectors. Sub-objective 2.B. Investigate functional property of novel biobased structures for lubrication, remediation, surfactant/detergent, polymers and other applications; apply structure-property models to optimize the chemical structures for multi-functional application. This project is aimed at enabling new commercial technologies, processes, and multi-functional biobased products applicable in multiple markets without further modification or processing. Where applicable, low-cost feedstocks from cheap process waste streams will be used. Developed products will have applications in environmental remediation, household and industrial surfactants and detergents, lubricant base oils and additives, cleaners and solvents, polymers and plasticizers, and biofuels and biofuel additives. The technologies and products from this research will be competitive in cost and performance to those currently in the marketplace. The biobased products targeted in this project will result in significant improvements to the U.S. agricultural economy and the environment as well as to the safety and health of the American people.

Biofuels and biobased products are essential for maintaining a sustainable bioeconomy, protecting the environment, and enhancing the health and safety of citizens. Their widespread application requires efficient and cost-effective processing of farm-based raw materials. Achieving this goal will require overcoming complex technological hurdles to reduce manufacturing costs and expand their ranges of application. This research plan will develop technology for the conversion of low-cost ag-based raw materials to biodiesel and value-added bioproducts with applications in multiple markets. Bioproducts from this research will be developed with potential applications in the environmental remediation of heavy metals from waste streams, household and industrial cleaners, surfactants and detergents, biobased lubricant additives and base oils, fire-resistant polymers and plasticizers, and biodiesel and biodiesel additives. This research project is organized in two main objectives. Objective one is tasked with the goals of expanding the feedstock supply for conversion to biodiesel and developing alternate conversion processes that produce biodiesel with enhanced cold flow properties. Sub-objective 1.A will expand the feedstock by the development of cost-effective pretreatment processes for upgrading low-quality oils and free fatty acids (FFA) obtained from vegetable oil refining wastes, used cooking oils and greases, and sorghum distiller’s dried grain with solubles (DDGS). Sub-objective 1.B will develop alternative processes for converting low-quality and nonfood (LQNF) feedstocks to biodiesel with improved cold flow properties. These processes will be designed to yield biodiesel mixed with co-products in one conversion step where the co-products can act as built-in cold flow improvers. Objective two is tasked with the development of multi-functional biobased products from waste cooking oil (WCO) and other low-cost feedstocks. The biobased products will have versatile structures that will allow them to perform in multiple application sectors. Sub-objective 2.A will enable the synthesis of cost-competitive biobased products such as phosphonates, thiophosphates, disulfides, gemini surfactants and polyurethanes (PU). Sub-objective 2B will enable the characterization of these materials in multiple application sectors such as lubrication, environmental remediation, surfactants, detergents and polymers. Structure-property models will be applied to allow for the synthesis of optimized structures of multi-functional biobased products.