Energy is on the verge of change, and the Michigan Biotechnology Institute is on the cutting edge of how that change will take place.
MBI recently received a $4.3 million grant from the Department of Energy to further the development of their butanol pre-treatment process. The process MBI has developed takes agriculture residue that is already being created today and convert it into material that can be made into butanol, which is an advanced biofuel.
"It's what's left on the fields today," says David Jones, Chief Business Officer for MBI. "These are non-food crops."
MBI has been working on the pretreatment of these materials on a small scale, but now, thanks to the Department of Energy grant, will be able to expand their pilot phase to a much larger scale. The grant funds a three-year program to increase MBI's staffing and capabilities.
"We're going to go all the way with this," says Jones. "We're going to be able to increase the volume of what we can do by about 100 times."
The end goal for MBI is to create regional biomass processing depots into agricultural areas where the pretreatment process can take place.
"Just like the farmer brings his corn kernels to a grain elevator, he'll bring his residue there and that material can be densifed," Jones says. "Then you can ship them just like a corn kernel into a biorefinery."
MBI is a non-profit organization owned by the MSU Foundation
and leader in the field of bio-based technologies.
Photo © Dave Trumpie