Research could increase ethanol yield

(Article published by Duluth News Tribune “University, NRRI get energy research grants”)

The Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment has awarded more than $3.7 million to nine renewable energy projects at the University of Minnesota.

The grants include two big and two small projects at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute totaling more than $616,000.

Pavel Krastusky, an NRRI chemist, received $250,000 to move forward with a patented extraction technology to make the corn ethanol process more efficient. The technology extracts further marketable products including biodiesel fuel, glycerin and more ethanol from the byproduct known as dried distillers grains. The NRRI technology also raises the protein levels of the byproduct, making it more valuable as an animal feed.

Our Take:
We might like to say this is not news at all—innovation that focuses on improving ethanol yield and efficiency is an everyday occurrence in the ethanol industry. What is notable is that the research is taking place at our land grant university—we like to point out that the University of Minnesota was founded with improvement of agriculture as a cornerstone of its mission. Despite oil and food processing industry giants funding anti-ethanol campaigns, and a noticeable bias against ethanol at the University of Minnesota, there are still scientists who find it rewarding to pursue ethanol research there.

 

Perhaps that’s because ethanol is the only currently viable alternative to gasoline. Biodiesel and ethanol are the only transportation fuels that Minnesota produces commercially now, not to mention the facts that these bioenergy industries support tens of thousands of jobs in the state, and generates billions in economic activity each year.

 

The Institute for Renewable Energy and the Environment at the University of Minnesota deserves praise for rising above politics and fashion and for investing in knowledge that will improve the lives of Minnesotans, and everyone who has a stake in clean, domestically produced, renewable energy.

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