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PNNL Awards and News in Bio-Based Products


Five PNNL researchers elected Fellows by AAAS

Five scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) were elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. All five were recognized at the Fellows Forum at the AAAS national meeting in St. Louis in February 2006. Election as an AAAS Fellow is determined by peer reviewers. Fellows are honored for "meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications." AAAS began honoring its distinguished members with the title of Fellow in 1874.

Linda Lasure was elected Fellow in the AAAS section on biological sciences. She manages a team in PNNL's chemical, biological and processing group in the laboratory's Environmental Technology directorate. She is being honored for her "sustained and effective leadership in industrial microbiology, particularly the innovative use of fungal enzymes in product development."

Before joining PNNL in 2001, Lasure was the president of Lasure and Associates, Vice President of Panlabs, Inc. and had previously served as the president of CellPath, Inc. Lasure earned a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from St. Cloud State College in 1968 and a doctorate in genetics from Syracuse University in 1973.

Charles Porter Award

Charles Porter Award presented to Linda L. Lasure, Ph.D. by the Society for Industrial Microbiology -- In recognition of achievements in applied microbiology and for exceptional service and dedication to the society.

Presidential Green Chemistry Award

The environmental benefits of merging an innovative, cost-effective process for levulinic acid production developed by Biofine Corp. with PNNL's patented catalytic process for upgrading the levulinic acid to produce methyletrahydrofuran (MTHF), led to the technology being honored with a 1999 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. The prestigious awards are sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency, and only five such awards are presented annually. To earn this high honor, the technology must display scientific merit, offer benefits to human health or the environment, and be widely applicable to chemical manufacturers, users, or society at large. The levulinic acid conversion technology was demonstrated using paper mill sludge as the biomass source for producing MTHF, which is used in the production of clean, alternative fuels. Press release on the award. Earlier press release on the technology.

R&D 100 Award

Production of Chemicals from Biologically Derived Succinic Acid (.pdf, 118Kb) received an R&D 100 Award as one of the 100 most important new technologies of 1997. The award recognized the PNNL contribution in the catalytic process development in the conversion of the succinic acid fermentation product into commercial, value-added products. While succinic acid itself has a limited market, PNNL developed technology to convert succinic acid into commodity chemicals, such as 1,4-butanediol, an important polyester monmer used in engineering plastics, and tetrahydrofuran (THF) or n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), important industrial solvents useful in displacing higher toxicity chlorinated solvents.

Conversion of Fermentable Carbohydrates to Acrylate Esters-Lactic Acid and Lower Alkyl Acrylates Production

This cost-efficient technology combines fermentation and catalytic processes to produce lactic acid from blackstrap molasses, cheese whey, and grain and potato processing residues. The lactic acid then can be used to produce acrylates such as sealants, coatings, textiles, and biodegradable plastics. The process won an R&D 100 award in 1991 and a Federal Laboratory Consortium Award in 1990.

Award-winning Thermochemical Environmental Energy System (TEES®)

The Thermochemical Environmental Energy System, or TEES, received both an R&D 100 Award and a Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for technologically significant products. TEES is a unique thermocatalytic gasification concept, which converts wet organic residues to medium-Btu fuel gas (methane and carbon dioxide); cogeneration and reduction in solid waste handling can also be achieved. The catalytic system operates at high pressure (2000 to 3000 psig) and low temperature (300 to 350°C) compared to conventional gasification approaches. TEES can also be used on agricultural residues and other large amounts of wet, organic waste for treatment or disposal. The system can function as a stand-alone portable unit or be integrated into a larger plant to help industries cost-effectively meet stringent environmental standards.
TEES® is a registered service mark of Onsite*Ofsite, Inc., of Glendale, California.

News releases and background papers

Biofuels in Oregon and Washington: A Business Case Analysis of Opportunities and Challenges: A 2008 report that reviews the current state of the industry, the biomass resources that are available within current production practices, and the biofuels production technology that is available within the marketplace.

Converting Biomass to Products - The June/July issue of Innovation magazine contains a roundup of projects to convert biomass to high-value products.

PNNL and JGI Announce Public Release of Aspergillus niger Genome Sequence. The DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the Fungal Biotechnology Team of the Chemical and Biological Process Development Group at PNNL have released the first public sequence of Aspergillus niger, an important filamentous fungus used to manufacture industrial enzymes and organic acids.

American Chemical Society Symposium: Biorefineries -- Renewable Fuels and Chemicals - A symposium, co-chaired by DC Elliott of PNNL, was held at the national meeting of the ACS in Washington, DC, in August 2005. Biorefinery concepts and background information can be found in the plenary speakers' papers posted to the website.

Bioconversion and Biorefineries of the Future (.pdf, 342Kb) - An introduction and discussion of bioconversion and its use in biorefineries is presented in this chapter from Applications of Biotechnology to Mitigation of Greenhouse Warming: proceedings of the St. Michaels wrokshop, April 13-15, 2003 Edited by N. J. Rosentberg, F.G. Metting and R.C. Izaurralde.

Organic Acid Production by Filamentous Fungi (.pdf, 205Kb) - A review of Organic Acid Production by Filamentous Fungi published as a chapter in Advances in Fungal Biotechnology for Industry, Agriculture , and Medicine by Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

Resource Magazine Cover

Corn Fiber converted to industrial products - A PNNL research team has joined forces with a leading agricultural products company and the National Corn Growers Association to create high value products from corn fiber. Read the entire article as it appeared in Resource, the official magazine of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers.

DOE Grant Advances Research into New Markets for Corn - Announcement of the continuation of a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) including scale-up of process technology for utilization of corn fiber coproduct from corn wet milling.

Chemical production from biomass (.pdf, 2.8Mb) is described in this chapter from the new Encyclopedia of Energy recently published by Elsevier (The Encyclopedia of Energy, vol. 1, ed. C. J. Cleveland, pp. 163-174. Elsevier, Inc., Oxford, United Kingdom). An historical perspective is provided as well as new topics for research and development.

Formal announcement (.pdf, 148Kb) of a Northwest Bioproducts Research Institute with four founding members: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, Washington State University and University of Idaho.
Other Views: Farm waste may be a terrific thing

>Chemicals from manure: "... the carbohydrate- and protein-based chemical building blocks from manure to produce a range of products. The carbohydrate material, composed of five- and six-carbon sugars, will be converted to commodity chemicals, such as glycols or diols, commonly used to manufacture antifreeze or certain plastics. The protein components will be converted to animal feed and other higher-value products."

From Produce to Plastics (.pdf, 330Kb) - Biomass potential grows for economical uses
Resource: Engineering & Technology for a Sustainable World, Vol. 7 No. 4, April 2000: pp. 7-8.

Trash to Treasure, PNNL's work converting waste biomass to useful chemicals.

Research support to agriculture including several subjects such as adding value to agricultural commodities, food processing improvements, and designer plants.

A Bushel of Chemicals, Breakthroughs article on chemical production from corn and other agricultural products.

Background on PNNL involvement in agribusiness.

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