Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center Newsletter: April 2014
Note From GLBRC Director, Tim Donohue:
Tim Donohue
Tim Donohue

The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) has enjoyed a busy and productive first quarter of 2014. Our work was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy, which praised GLBRC and other DOE-funded Bioenergy Research Centers for producing tangible results and recommended continued funding. In addition, GLBRC project personnel at Michigan State University hosted a visit from President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Secretary Vilask, providing a special opportunity to showcase our efforts, progress and the products of our collaborative activities.

 

We're also preparing for our seventh annual Center-wide retreat, to be held May 20-22nd in South Bend, Indiana. GLBRC Scientific Director Ken Keegstra and staff have organized an outstanding program, combining plenary presentations from experts inside and outside the Center, sessions to report on advances within and between projects and opportunities to discuss future research activities.

 

Read on for more Center highlights, and to learn more about the important work being done at GLBRC.

Productivity and Nitrogen Retention Tradeoffs in Bioenergy Grasslands
Bioenergy Grasslands

Most biofuel in the United States is produced from corn grain; however, corn typically requires high levels of nitrogen fertilizer. Also, corn grain biofuels compete with other important uses for corn, such as human food and animal feed. Perennial grassland cropping systems may someday be managed as an alternative source of biofuel that requires fewer fertilizer inputs. Read more

What began twenty years ago as an innovation to improve paper industry processes and dairy forage digestibility may now open the door to a much more energy- and cost-efficient way to convert biomass into fuel. Read more
You have to go back a long way to trace the origins of Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) researcher Bruce Dale's passion for biofuels and renewable energy. The son of a mining engineer, Dale came face to face with the finite nature of non-renewable resources at the age of twelve, an early encounter that put him in dogged pursuit of the biofuels research now bringing him both national and international recognition. Read more
Unraveling Lignin's Knot, Step Toward Better Biofuels
As lignin is the component of plant biomass that is the hardest to degrade, it has long been an obstacle to the basic process of acquiring the plant sugars used to produce biofuels, often hampering the efficiency of fuel conversion processes. More specifically, the chemical knot created by lignin's formation makes it difficult for many known enzyme catalysts to unlock and release the knots within lignin. Read more
GLBRC Research Shows U.S. Students Struggle to Assess Fuel Sustainability
"Today's students face a future in which they will be required to create or evaluate solutions for reducing human impact on the environment," says Charles Anderson, GLBRC researcher and professor of teacher education at Michigan State University. "What we want to know is how prepared are they for the task and what can we do to prepare them." Read more

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