BEI Student Continues Poster Excellence at Thermochemical Conference

Joseph Polin, an Iowa State University Ph.D. student working in the Bioeconomy Institute, won second place in the Student Poster Challenge at the tcbiomass2015 conference held recently in Chicago. It marks the third time in a row that an Iowa State student has placed in this prestigious competition.

[PHOTO]Joseph Polin

Polin’s poster, “Investigation of autothermal operation of a fluidized bed pyrolyzer,” was selected from some 38 entrants. Polin also received a cash award of $500. You can view a PDF of Polin’s poster as well as a list and PDFs of all BEI posters.

Joseph Polin, a Ph.D. student at Iowa State University and BEI, won second place in the Student Poster Challenge at the recent tcbiomass2015 conference.

Polin is majoring in mechanical engineering and co-majoring in Biorenewable Resources and Technology (BRT). His major professor is Robert C. Brown, BEI director and Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering. Polin is studying autothermal pyrolysis in pilot-scale reactor systems. In contrast to traditional pyrolysis, the autothermal method uses some oxygen, with the goal of overcoming heat transfer limitations and increasing yields of pyrolytic sugar and phenolic oil. Polin hopes to graduate in December 2017.

Highlighting BEI’s Thermochemical Conversion Research

The tcbiomass conference focused on thermochemical conversion science to turn biomass into fuels and chemicals. It was a busy conference for BEI. The host of the conference, the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), presented BEI’s Brown with the 2015 Don Klass Award for Excellence in Thermochemical Conversion Science. The program featured four Iowa State researchers as speakers and over 20 as poster presenters. In all, over 35 Iowa State people attended the conference.

The BEI 2015 Virtual Tour video made its premiere at the event. The institute also had an exhibit to showcase its thermochemical research capabilities.


BEI Takes Busload to Showcase Thermochemical Research

[LOLGO]tcbiomass2015The Bioeconomy Institute is taking a bus with over 30 Iowa State University students, researchers, faculty, and staff to tcbiomass 2015, an international conference on thermochemical biomass conversion science being held this week in Chicago, IL. The program features four Iowa State researchers as speakers and over 20 as poster presenters. Iowa State is expected to have the largest presence of any university at tcbiomass2015, demonstrating its leadership in field.

The event is bringing together the world’s experts in biomass gasification, pretreatment, pyrolysis, and upgrading to explore progress in the bioeconomy. Some 22 countries are represented among attendees.

[PHOTO]Robert C. BrownThe host of the conference, the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), has announced that BEI Director Robert C. Brown will be presented with the 2015 Don Klass Award for Excellence in Thermochemical Conversion Science on Nov. 3 at the event. This award recognizes Dr. Brown as a leader whose career has shaped the agenda of thermochemical biomass conversion, made substantial technical contributions, and mentored many young scientists and engineers in the field.

The award is a tribute to the notable Dr. Donald L. Klass, who was president and one of the original founders of the Biomass Energy Research Association (BERA). For more about Brown’s award, read the article on at GTI’s Website.

Update: BEI/Iowa State student Joseph Polin wins second place in tcbiomass 2015 student poster competition.

Talking about Thermochemical Conversion

[PHOTO]Iowa State at tcbiomass2015The Iowa State speakers at the conference are Marjorie Rover, a thermochemical research scientist at BEI, Xianglan Bai, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, along with Rajeeva Thilakartne and Chloe Dedic, both graduate students in mechanical engineering.

A contingent of Iowa State University faculty, scientists, and students participated in tcbiomass 2015, highlighting the university’s research in the field of thermochemical conversion of biomass. 

Iowa State will also be represented by 22 poster presenters at the conference, covering pyrolysis, gasification, and upgrading/pretreatment of biomass. Presenters include BEI staff researchers Preston Gable, Patrick Johnston, Patrick Hall, Ashokkumar Sharma, and Shuai Zhou as well as Rover. Iowa State faculty presenting posters are Young-Jin Lee, chemistry, and Song-Charng Kong, mechanical engineering. See all of the BEI posters.

Also presenting are mechanical engineering graduate students Soroush Aramideh, Bernardo Del Campo, Martin Haverly, Wenqi li, Arian Jafari, Jake K. Lindstrom, Longwen Ou, Yaoyu Pan, Joseph Polin, Juan Proano Aviles, and Yuan Xue; chemical and biological engineering graduate students Sanaz Abdolmohammadi, and Arpa Ghosh; and economics graduate student Ryan Goodrich. Robert Brown was also on the advisory committee that selected presentations for the conference and will chair a session on pyrolysis.

[BANNER]Thermochemical ProcessingBEI is a sponsor and exhibitor at the conference as well. Its display will highlight BEI’s thermochemical research capabilities as well as its new thrust into modular manufacturing of thermochemical conversion systems. The new BEI Virtual Tour 2015 video, which provides an overview of many thermochemical research projects at BEI, will have its premiere showing at the conference.

The conference has posted a video of conference highlights. It can be viewed on the tcbiomass 2015 site.


The Bioeconomy Institute will be highlighting its leading thermochemical processing research at the international tcbiomass2015 conference this week.

National Bioenergy Day @ Iowa State University, Oct. 21

[LOGO]National Bioenergy DayOctober 21, 2015, Noon – 4:00 p.m.
Sukup Atrium
Iowa State University

Iowa State University participated in the 3rd annual National Bioenergy Day. The day united some 60 organizations across the country that support bioenergy.

Iowa State’s event aimed to educate the university’s 36,000+ students about the many research, educational, extracurricular, and career opportunities related to bioenergy at Iowa State as well as the state of Iowa. It featured exhibits and activities from the organizations listed below, showcasing Iowa State’s and Iowa’s many efforts in bioenergy.

[PHOTO]National Bioenergy Day @ Iowa State UniversityHosts

[LOGO]Bioeconomy Institute
Iowa State University’s Bioeconomy Institute (BEI) opens opportunities in Iowa’s burgeoning bioeconomy, where our society looks to agriculture for sustainable sources of fuel, energy, chemicals, and materials.
More about BEI

[LOGO\CenUSA Bioenergy
CenUSA Bioenergy is an ambitious Iowa State University-based, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) sponsored, research project investigating the creation of a Midwestern sustainable biofuels and bioproducts system.
More about CenUSA Bioenergy

Iowa NSF EPSCoR is a $20+ million, five-year National Science Foundation program to build Iowa’s research capacity in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
More about Iowa NSF EPSCoR


C6 BioFarm
The C6 BioFarm game suite is designed for middle school classrooms in STEM and agriculture based subjects.
More about C6 BioFarm

Biorenewable Resources and Technology
Graduate Program

Iowa State’s Biorenewable Resources and Technology (BRT) graduate program offers students from a variety of science and engineering backgrounds advanced study in the use of plant- and crop-based resources for the production of biobased products, including fuels, chemicals, materials, and energy.
More about the BRT program

[LOGO]Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University
The Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering is a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. Research is being directed increasingly toward biosystems engineering through the use of biosensors, image analysis, biological systems modeling, and the design and control of biological systems and processes. Biorenewable and biofuels products and processes are an important focus of these research and teaching efforts.

More about the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

[LOGO]BioCentury Research Farm
The BioCentury Research Farm (BCRF) is the first-in-the-nation integrated research and demonstration facility dedicated to biomass production and processing located seven miles west of the ISU campus on US Highway 30. It offers opportunities for large pilot and pre-commercial scale research in biomass feedstock production, harvest, transport, storage, preparation, processing and laboratory testing. Field plots for crop production trials, field equipment modification and testing facilities, biomass storage facilities and biomass conversion facilities are available for on- and off-campus users.  A new $5 million biopolymer processing plant (500 kg/day) has been built and commissioned for use. The BCRF is administered by the Center for Crops Utilization Research.
More about the BioCentury Research Farm

[LOGO]Center for Crops Utilization Research
The Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR) is a resource to assist ISU researchers and external businesses with developing new processes, products and markets for corn, soybean, and other crops. CCUR strives to add value to grain and plant materials by conducting grant and contract research; offering short courses, workshops, seminars and training; performing analytical testing, pilot plant processing, and consumer evaluation services; providing technical consulting services; and offering small-business incubator services. The center has state-of-the-art laboratory and pilot plant processing and analytical equipment.
More about the Center for Crops Utilization Research

The Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC) is developing the tools, components and materials needed to transform carbohydrate feedstocks into biobased chemicals.
More about the Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC)

STRIPS stands for Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips. The STRIPS project is composed of a team of scientists, educators, farmers, and extension specialists working on the prairie strips farmland conservation practice. STRIPS research shows that farmers and landowners who convert 10% of a crop-field to diverse, native perennials can reduce the amount of soil leaving fields by 90% and the amount of nitrogen leaving their fields through surface runoff by up to 85%.
More about the STRIPS program

[LOGO]Live Green!
Live Green! is Iowa State University’s campus-wide sustainability initiative, encouraging all students, faculty and staff to be fully committed to and engaged in making our campus, our operations and initiatives environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
More about Live Green!

[LOGO]City of Ames Resource Recovery
For 40 years, the City of Ames has been turning trash into fuel. Built in 1975, the Resource Recovery Plant was the first municipally owned waste-to-energy facility in the nation. By pulling out metals for recycling and shredding garbage into smaller and smaller pieces, the Resource Recovery Plant is able to convert 70 to 75 percent of solid waste into refuse-derived fuel (RDF) for the Ames Power Plant.
More about City of Ames

Advanced Renewable Technology International Inc. (ARTi) was founded in 2013 by a team of PhD student from Iowa State University that offers consulting services, production and manufacture of Biochar; and Biochar production systems to customers in the US. ARTi is a greener, safer and environmentally friendly bio renewable enterprise that focuses on enhancing biochar production and utilization efficiently and effectively.”
More about Advanced Renewable Technology International Inc.

The ISU BioBus student organization makes biodiesel from reclaimed vegetable oil from ISU Dining and supplies it to CyRide for use in one or more of the transit vehicles which services Iowa State University and the community of Ames, Iowa. ISU BioBus also does community outreach on the basis of educating about renewable fuels. ISU BioBus is open to all students on campus as well as faculty, staff, and visitors from the surrounding communities.
More about ISU BioBus

[LOGO]Engineers for a Sustainable World
Engineers for a Sustainable World is a group of engineering and non-engineering students. We initiate and execute local and international projects that find technical solutions to problems in sustainability. We will be presenting one of our current local projects, which is to design and make a biofuel gasifier.

Field Day | Perennial Bioenergy Grasses to be Featured in Pella

Area crop scouts, farmers, and conservationists are invited to participate in a field day on August 24, 215 in Pella, IA. The field day is being hosted by Two Rivers COOP and will feature row crop variety updates and perennial grass plots. The bioenergy grass plots have been established near Vermeer Headquarters in Pella on the east side of the Vermeer Manufacturing. The program begins at 9:00am at the Winfield Answer Plot east of Pella on Adams/250th St., near Hwy 163 exit 44.  For more details, contact Dale Miller, Marion County Extension Director, 641-842-2014,

Workshop to Focus on Mass Production of Biomass Refineries

[IMAGE]Energy ManufacturingA two-day workshop will bring together experts in the mass production of biomass processing facilities. “The next step to accelerate commercialization of biorefineries is the mass production of biomass processing modules,” said Mark Wright, a conference organizer and assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State University.

The workshop will take place May 11-12, 2015 in Broomfield, CO. It will include tracks on bioenergy and manufacturing. The second day of the workshop will feature a group effort to find consensus on the best path for collaboration between the bioenergy and manufacturing industries. Attendees will include representatives from academics, industry, and government.

Wright explains that biomass processing modules could be fabricated at a central construction facility with modern manufacturing practices, including automation, sensors and controls, and lean and agile manufacturing. This approach has proven successful in the airline, vehicle, and consumer product industries. “This concept has yet to take hold in the bioindustry and could be the missing piece to rapid growth in advanced biofuel production,” Wright said.

See the Energy Manufacturing Workshop 2015 page for more information.

Bioeconomy Institute trading card