Grant: $450,000 - National Science Foundation - Jul. 24, 2009
17% voted satisfied - 83% voted not satisfied - 6 vote(s) cast
Award Description: This CAREER proposal focuses on developing an integrated research and education program in biofuels which will aid in enhancing the conversion efficiency of biomass to ethanol, promoting the commercialization of cellulose ethanol, and training scientists and engineers for the emerging bioindustry. The objective of the research is to investigate and understand the behaviors and impacts of cell wall lignin during the bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass to fuel ethanol. Cellulose ethanol is next generation of biofuel produced from biomass such as corn stover, switchgrass, fast-growing trees and other dedicated energy crops. However, the low efficiency and high cost of converting the biomass to ethanol, in particular during pretreatment and enzymatic saccharification, limit the commercialization of cellulose ethanol. Lignin, one of the three cell-wall components (cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin) which accounts for 15-30% of biomass and binds cellulose together to form a recalcitrant matrix, is a key factor contributing to the recalcitrance and low conversion efficiency of the biomass. The goal of the proposed research is to fundamentally understand the changes of lignin during the bioconversion and the mechanisms how the lignin affects enzymes used for cellulose hydrolysis. Specifically, the structure of lignins in both feedstocks and pretreated materials and the structural changes of lignin during different pretreatments will be investigated. Lignin model compounds will be used to elucidate the mechanisms of lignin reactions during the pretreatments and to determine the impacts of lignin on enzymes during saccharification. The integrated education plan aims to train high-quality scientists and engineers for the emerging biofuel industry. A new biorefining course, Biorefining Fuels and Products from Renewable Resources, will be developed for both undergraduate and graduate students. To attract students to the area of bioenergy, high school students and undergraduate students will be supported to conduct summer projects related to bioethanol. Graduate student will also be trained through the frontier research in this area. This integrated proposal has broad impacts on enhancing biomass conversion to fuel ethanol, on improving teaching, training and learning, and on promoting biobased industry. The outcomes of this research will enhance the scientific and technical understanding of lignin and provide guidelines to improve production efficiency of cellulose ethanol by optimizing pretreatment and saccharification technologies and developing novel enzymes. In addition, the fundamental understandings from the research will also benefit paper industry and forest products industry. The integrated education plan will involve students at different levels (K-12, undergraduate and graduate) in research, teaching, learning and professional development in the area of biofuel. Furthermore, this integrated project will enhance the collaboration in research and education among universities, government and industry.
Project Description: See Award Description
Jobs Summary: The University of Wisconsin - Madison appreciates the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. This additional funding has allowed us to retain employees and create new jobs. The job classifications that have been created or retained for this award are: Associate Researchers (incl. post-doc researchers). (Total jobs reported: 1)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Jul. 24, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.