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Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering


Bio-butanol production

Bio-butanol production from agricultural wastes (Dr. Cornish)

In the last decade of increasing crude oil prices, exhausting oil resources and growing environmental concerns, much attention has been brought to butanol as an alternate fuel for gasoline. However, substrate cost still makes up at least 50% of the total production cost of butanol. In order to make butanol production cost effective and competitive with gasoline, inexpensive and locally-available substrates have to be utilized.  One such waste is derived from the alternate rubber crop Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS).  TKS produces a large amount of inulin, a polyfructose, in addition to rubber.  Commercial-scale TKS production could be a good source of inulin for significant butanol production.  Fermentation of inulin derived from TKS can be scaled up into an industrial fermentation process that could improve economics and help commercialization of TKS as a viable natural rubber producing crop in USA. Also, in-situ fermentation of inulin during rubber extraction could provide solvents needed by other industries.

Bio-butanol production from food processing wastes (Dr. Cornish)

Food processing wastes are another great source of cheap biomass that can potentially be utilized for production of various alternate fuels such as biogas, ethanol and butanol. We have investigated energy and chemical composition of various food processing wastes to determine their suitability for butanol production. Ohio generates enormous amounts of processing wastes since Ohio is home to more than 1100 food processing companies. Production of biofuels from these wastes could help meet industrial energy needs while minimize waste disposal problems.