Holtzapple awarded grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy

March 27, 2008

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Dr. Mark Holtzapple, professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University and researcher with the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), has been awarded one of 21 grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for biomass research and development, and demonstration projects. Holtzapple was awarded $600,000 to help build and operate a small demonstration plant of the MixAlco process, which converts biomass into alcohol fuels. Holtzapple will use the grant to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of anaerobically fermenting biomass to carboxylate salts and their conversion to ketones, such as acetone. "The demonstration plant will hold about 400 tons of biomass and will digest about five tons per day," Holtzapple said. "The biomass is digested using a mixed culture of microorganisms derived from marine environments." "The microorganisms produce carboxylate salts, which can be chemically converted to a wide range of products including ketones, alcohols, and gasoline." The technology is licensed to Terrabon, a Bryan company formed to explore options for converting biomass waste and energy crops into animal feeds, liquid fuels, and chemicals. Terrabon focuses its technology on conservation, waste utilization, energy savings, and cleaner fuels and chemicals.

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