Researchers at Washington State University are part of a national effort to find a higher-value use for such leftovers. The waste, also known as corn stover, is a plentiful source of lignin, a structural molecule used to make advanced jet fuels.
Bin Yang, associate professor in WSU’s Department of Biological Systems Engineering, is helping to launch a new $3.7 million, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-funded project, led by researchers at the University of North Dakota. The team will design, build, and test a lignin-based pilot reactor, for the first time studying the commercial viability of the process.
A Washington State University Tri-Cities researcher is producing and testing a group of hydrocarbon molecules made from lignin, a waste material from biofuel production, as a new biojet fuel that could replace petroleum-based fuels and lead to greater performance and reduced emissions.
Bin Yang, associate professor of biological systems engineering with the Tri-Cities-based Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory, is working with colleagues from the University of Dayton, Phonon Energy, Inc., Polykala Technologies LLC, and Mercurious Biorefining, Inc, on the project. The team recently received a $100,000 grant from the Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation (JCATI) to conduct…
Professor Bin Yang speaks on the topic of “Sustainable Biofuels and the American Dream” during the 27th American Voices Seminar in Turku, Finland. Yang was honored with a Fulbright-Aalto Distinguished Chair award, which is the most prestigious appointment in the Fulbright Program.
In Friday’s second speech, Bin Yang and Eric Hahnert talked about the American dream and its sustainability. Their speech bound social development and the need for sustainable fuels.
Yang introduced the history of US fuel consumption and its environmental impact. Fuel plays an important role in the history of the American Dream, and its easy availability is nowadays considered a fundamental right. The US transportation sector is dependent on crude oil. Transport also generates the most greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, fuel prices have been kept low. Change is needed here, Yang said. Finally, Hahnort and Yang introduced how the concept of the American Dream should be changed. Its core values, along with diligence and freedom, should include sustainability. That would be a chance for future generations to have a positive, American dream of believing in the future.
In her home country of Indonesia, Fitria, who goes by one name, is a team member and former project leader in biomass process technology and bioremediation at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences Research Center for Biomaterials.
Bin Yang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering at Washington State University Tri‑Cities, has been selected for the Fulbright Distinguished Chair Award — the most prestigious appointment in the Fulbright Scholar Program.
Fulbright currently awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Of those, 40 are selected for the Fulbright Distinguished Chair Award. Yang marks the first professor in WSU history to be selected for the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Energy and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources Award.
Three Biological Systems Engineering Students in the Bioenergy & Bioproducts Engineering specialty area have been selected for the 2018 PNNL-WSU Distinguished Graduate Research Program. The students are listed below and are advised by BSE professor Bin Yang.
1. Zhangyang Xu, 2018 PNNL-WSU Distinguished Graduate Research Program (Co-advisor: Dr. John Cort)
2. Xiaolu Li, 2018 PNNL-WSU Distinguished Graduate Research Program (Co-advisor: Dr. Weijun Qian)
3. Fnu Fitria, 2018 PNNL-WSU Distinguished Graduate Research Program (Co-advisor: Dr. Jian Liu)
September 7, 2018 | Richland, WA | By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities
RICHLAND, Wash. – High school students in the Tri-Cities have seen success not only at the state level in science fairs, but also at national and international competitions after collaborating with researchers at Washington State University Tri-Cities for their research projects.
The goal of the partnerships, the professors said, is not only to provide students with exposure to a variety of science and engineering projects that can stand to have large impacts, but additionally so that more students will receive exposure to hands-on opportunities in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. With this experience, the students can witness what is possible through those career paths, they said.
Biological Systems Engineering Faculty Professor Bin Yang published the the research paper titled: “Effects of Sugars, Furans, and their Derivatives on Hydrodeoxygenation of Biorefinery Lignin‐Rich Wastes to Hydrocarbons”
Abstract: Hydrodeoxygenation of biorefinery lignin‐rich wastes to jet fuel hydrocarbons offers a significant opportunity for enhancing the overall operational efficiency, carbon conversion efficiency, economic viability, and sustainability of biofuels production. However, these wastes usually mainly contain lignin with sugars, furans, and their derivatives as “impurities”. Although several factors, including reactant structure, solvents, or the decreased ratio of catalyst to reactant, could be responsible for the jet fuel hydrocarbons yield loss, we found evidence that glucose, xylose, and 5‐hydroxymethylfurfural dramatically decreased conversion yields. For example, xylose and glucose lowered the final hydrocarbon yield by 78 and 63 %, respectively. The results revealed that these compounds could suppress metal catalysts and inhibit lignin depolymerization and hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) reactions thus decrease yields of jet fuel range hydrocarbons from biomass‐derived lignin. The first‐principles calculations and TGA results from spent catalysts validated these findings.
Back in 2016, researchers at Washington State University Tri-Cities landed a National Science Foundation I-Corps grant to explore the market potential of their biojet fuel research. The team had successfully demonstrated a new, water-based process for deconstructing and recovering lignin from biomass and converting it into jet fuel-range hydrocarbons. These could be certified as jet fuel in the future. Lignin, a polymer that makes plants woody and rigid, is a waste product in the biofuels production process.
Bin Yang, WSU Tri-Cities associate professor of biological systems engineering and principal investigator for the grant, holds a patent on the process.
“Our ultimate goal is to demonstrate a flexible catalytic process that selectively converts all the carbon in the lignin into jet fuel-range hydrocarbons at minimal cost,” Yang said at the time. Dr. Yang gave this illuminating update and overview of the technology’s progress and promise at ABLC Next in San Francisco.
November 11, 2017 | U.S. Dept. of Energy, Office of Science
A major bottleneck to producing cost-effective biofuels and many valuable chemicals is breaking down cellulose. Cellulose is an important structural component of plants. Scientists addressed this bottleneck by characterizing those molecular features that make cellulose resistant to degradation. The findings reveal—for the first time—structural differences between surface layers and the crystalline core of the two types of cellulose found in plant cell walls.