Webinar/Meeting: Maximizing Bioenergy Resources in the Midwest

MGA Announces America’s Smartland Series on Maximizing Bioenergy Resources in the Midwest

The Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) will host an America’s Smartland Series focusing on maximizing bioenergy resources in the Midwest. This intensive discussion will bring together governors’ offices and state agency staff, as well as academia, NGOs, and industry leaders from across the region for a series of webinars, culminating in an in-person meeting.

A variety of biomass to energy opportunities exist throughout the Midwest, with feedstocks ranging from energy crops to food waste to manure. Many of these biomass resources are currently not fully developed or utilized and state-led programming or incentives can help grow the industry. Biomass can be converted to electricity and/or heat, used as a source of renewable natural gas, or provide a variety of vehicle fuels. A strong bioenergy market could result in local economic development as well as provide a range of potential environmental benefits.

The MGA Smartland Series will discuss strategies related to:

  • securing a sustainable biomass supply,
  • improving the efficiency of biomass processing and conversion,
  • expanding the bioenergy market, and
  • creating inclusive biomass business models capturing the ag/energy/water nexus.

We invite you register for the meetings listed below. Please note that advanced registration is required for each.

You can also visit www.midwesterngovernors.org/biomass.htm for more information about this effort.

Webinar/Meeting Dates

September 14, 2017
Biomass Webinar #3

October 11-12, 2017
In-person Meeting
The meeting, in Coralville, Iowa, will be a combination of selected high-level speakers and attendee discussion to synthesize lessons learned. We are tentatively planning two biomass related tours.
Draft agenda (PDF)


Are you or your organization interested in sponsoring this effort and meeting? The generous support of our sponsors allow us to not only hold this webinar series and meeting.

For more information on sponsoring, please contact Jeff Ewart with the MGA at 202-367-2372.

Iowa State Researchers Join New Carbon Economy Consortium

Researchers from Iowa State University are part of a “New Carbon Economy” consortium launched by the Center for Carbon Removal in partnership with several research institutions. The initiative has the goal of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into valuable products and services.

Noah Deich, executive director of the Center for Carbon Removal, said the effort is urgently needed to “develop new businesses and reinvent the industries that powered the last industrial revolution – like manufacturing, mining, agriculture and forestry – to create a strong, healthy and resilient economy and environment for communities around the globe.”

Iowa State researchers participating in the consortium include Robert Brown, director of the Bioeconomy Institute and Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering; David Laird, professor of agronomy; and Dermot Hayes, the Pioneer Chair in Agribusiness and Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences.

[LOGO]ICNE“Iowa State University began exploring carbon removal technologies six years ago as part of a College of Engineering-sponsored Initiative for Carbon Negative Energy,” explained Brown. “This initiative focused on drawing down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the natural process of photosynthesis, with part of the resulting plant biomass being converted to biochar as a long-term carbon sequestration agent.  Our inclusion as a founding organization of this consortium is a direct result of ISU’s early investment in an emerging research area long before it received much attention in the scientific community.”

Arizona State University and Purdue University are also part of the effort. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory participated in the launch event and has extensive expertise in alternative energy and new fuel sources.

The idea for the consortium came from a recent chance meeting between Arizona State President Michael Crow and Deich where they discussed rethinking the climate challenge in terms of economic opportunities.

At the launch event, assembled partners agreed to produce a roadmap that will outline the specific steps for translating relevant research into business and policy actions. The roadmap will consider design principles for engaging multiple parts of the economy in capturing and concentrating atmospheric carbon dioxide, ranging from biological approaches such as ISU’s biochar production and sequestration to engineered systems such as direct air capture of carbon dioxide.

For More Information

New Carbon Economy Effort Launched at Arizona State University

Team launches initiative to develop viable market for waste carbon dioxide

Biofuels Digest | Rapid Advancement: The Digest’s 2017 Multi-Slide Guide to the Nation’s 10th Manufacturing USA Institute – RAPID

Biofuels Digest has published a slideset overview of the new RAPID Institute from Mark Wright, a BEI affiliate and an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State University. The Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) Institute is being led by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in New York City will lead the effort. The effort was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River National Laboratory in South Carolina and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Iowa State researchers are managing the project’s biorefinery efforts.

View the slides on the Biofuels Digest site

BRT Student Boosts Science Communications Skills with Fellowship

Juan Proano Aviles, a student in the Biorenewable Resources and Technologies (BRT) graduate program, has completed a fellowship in Reiman Gardens’ Portal to the Public science communications program. The fellowship provides workshops and mentorships to help scientists and students enhance their communications skills. As part of the program, fellows develop a hands-on activity related to their scientific field and participate in public events to share their knowledge and experience.

“My major professor suggested this program to me,” Proano Aviles said.  “I thought this was an excellent opportunity to improve my skills to share complex ideas in a simple but complete way.” His professor is Robert C. Brown, BEI director. Proano-Aviles will be defending for his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Iowa State University in June 2017. He researches fast pyrolysis ­­­– decomposition at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen — and how the technology can be used to turn biomass into fuels and chemicals.

[PHOTO]Juan Proano AvilesJuan Proano Aviles (right), a graduate student in the Biorenewable Resources and Technologies program, explains the science of pyrolysis at a public event held at Reiman Gardens in April 2017.


Proano Aviles said the experience helped him organize his ideas to be more effective. “This fellowship made me realize what triggers our interest and motivates us to inquire for more knowledge and understanding of our reality,” he said.

Reiman Gardens held one of its public events in April in which Proano Aviles participated. “I enjoyed seeing people’s interest sparkled, igniting a chain reaction of questions. The visitors took inspiration to go out and learn more about the topics we presented.” Reiman Gardens is a public garden located at the entrance to Iowa State, with a mission to educate, enchant, and inspire an appreciation of plants, butterflies, and the beauty of the natural world.

After graduation, Proano Aviles plans to join his alma mater as a researcher and teacher at the Escuela Politécnica Nacional, a university in Quito, Ecuador. “I want to look into sustainable solutions to problems pertaining the daily life in Ecuador,” he said. “I want to match biorenewable resources and technology with the growing energy and green chemicals needs we have in the region.”

BRT Students Take Home Poster Prizes

[PHOTO]Patrick Hall with posterTwo graduate students in the Biorenewable Resources and Technology (BRT) program won prizes in a poster competition held by the Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR) and BioCentury Research Farm (BCRF). The event was held April 20, 2017.

Patrick Hall with his winning poster.

Patrick Hall, a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering at Iowa State, won first place in the graduate poster division. His poster was entitled, “Recovering Valuable Products from a Low-Value Aqueous Waste Stream.” Hall’s major professor is Robert C. Brown, director of the Bioeconomy Institute.

Wenqin Li took the third place prize with her poster, “The Pyrolysis-Bioenergy-Biochar Pathway to Carbon-Negative Energy.” Li is also a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering; her major professor is Mark M. Wright, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and a BEI affiliate.

[PHOTO]Wenqin Li with her posterBoth Hall and Li are students in BRT 506C, a biobased products seminar. The course is taught by Jacqulyn Baughman, BRT Director of Graduate Education.

Wenqin Li with her winning poster.

Bioeconomy Institute trading card