Illinois greenlights $20M+ investment in Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory

June 3, 2013 |

In Illinois, the state’s Capital Development Board has designated in excess of $20 million to build the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL) in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at Illinois. An outgrowth of the Center for BioEnergy Research (CABER), IBRL “will complete the value-chain link between research and commercial viability for advanced biofuels,” said Hans Blaschek, professor emeritus in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and director of CABER.

Vijay Singh, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering in ACES, said, “IBRL provides a niche between the bench scale study, which can ferment approximately a kilogram of corn, and the large scale, such as the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. They process 200 bushels a day. There was obviously a need for something in between.”

Activities in the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Lab will specifically focus on the intermediate scale up of bench level processes as part of a continuum leading to commercialization of processes for economical production of biofuels and chemicals. Included in the lab will be state-of-the-art pilot scale processing unit operations, including facilities for biomass handling, storage and pre-treatment, enzyme treatment, aerobic and anaerobic fermentation (100-300L), thermochemical conversion, product separation and recovery, process integration, sensor technology and additional technologies for analysis of biomass cell structure and composition.

DuPont Industrial Biosciences and Novozymes have joined as affiliate members, and Singh said in the last year, five multinational companies recently completed projects at the current facility. Groundbreaking for the new facility should take place in fall of 2013, with completion expected in 18 months.

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