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20 pages : digital, PDF file.
The project had a dominant education component. The project involved revising curriculum to educate traditional engineering students in the emerging field of industrial biotechnology. New classes were developed and offered. As a result, the curriculum of the Colorado School of Mines was expanded to include new content. Roughly 100 undergraduates and about 10 graduate students each year benefit from this curricular expansion. The research associated with this project consisted of developing new materials and energy sources from renewable resources. Several significant advances were made, most importantly the heat distortion temperature of polylactide (PLA) was increased through the addition of cellulosic nanowhiskers. The resulting ecobionanocomposites have superior properties which enable the use of renewable resource based plastics in a variety of new applications. Significant amounts of petroleum are thereby saved and considerable environmental benefits also result. Effectiveness and economic feasibility of the project proved excellent. The educational activities are continuing in a sustainable fashion, now being supported by tuition revenues and the normal budgeting of the University. The PI will be teaching one of the newly developed classes will next Fall (Fall 2006), after the close of the DOE grant, and again repeatedly into the future. Now established, the curriculum in biobased products and energy will grow and evolve through regular teaching and revision. On the research side, the new plastic materials appear economically feasible and a new collaboration between the PI’s group and Sealed Air, a major food-packaging manufacturer, has been established to bring the new green plastics to market. Public benefits of the project are noteworthy in many respects. These include the development of a better educated workforce and citizenry capable of providing technological innovation as a means of growing the economy and providing jobs. In particular, the educational components addressing the production of bioethanol, biodiesel, and bioplastics provide graduates that can assist American industries in including greater renewable content in feedstocks for materials and fuels. Finally, the collaboration fostered by this grant led to the drafting of a new book entitled, Bioengineering for Sustainability: Materials and Fuels for the 21st Century. This text will be widely available to the public interested in learning more about these important areas of technology.
1 online resource (148 pages ) : digital, PDF file.
Growth and concentration of the livestock industry create opportunities for the proper disposal of the large quantities of manures generated at dairy, swine, and poultry farms. Pollutants from unmanaged livestock wastes can degrade the environment, and methane emitted from decomposing manure may contribute to global climate change. One management system not only provides pollution prevention but also can convert a manure problem into a new profit center. Economic evaluations and case studies of operating systems indicate that the anaerobic digestion (AD) of livestock manures is a commercially available bioconversion technology with considerable potential for providing profitable coproducts, including a cost-effective renewable fuel for livestock production operations. This Casebook examines some of the current opportunities for the recovery of methane from the AD animal manures. U.S. livestock operations currently employ four types of anaerobic digester technology: slurry, plug-flow, complete-mix, and covered lagoon. An introduction to the engineering economies of these technologies is provided, and possible end-use applications for the methane gas generated by the digestion process are discussed. The economic evaluations are based on engineering studies of digesters that generate electricity from the recovered methane. Case studies of operating digesters, with project and maintenance histories and the operators ''lessons learned, '' are included as reality checks. Factors necessary for successful projects, as well as a list of reasons explaining why some AD projects fail, are provided. The role of farm management is key; not only must digesters be well engineered and built with high-quality components, they must also be sited at farms willing to incorporate the uncertainties of a new technology. More than two decades of research has provided much information about how manure can be converted to an energy source; however, the American farmer has not been motivated to adopt new practices. More cost-effective and easily managed manure management techniques are still needed to encourage farmers to use animal manure for conversion into energy and nutrients, especially for smaller farms. AD benefits farmers monetarily and mitigates possible manure pollution problems, thereby sustaining development while maintaining environmental quality. Moreover, rural economic development will benefit from the implicit multiplier effect resulting from jobs created by implementing digester systems. Promising future waste-to-profit activities may add to the economic performance of AD. New end-use applications, which provide added value to coproducts, are discussed.


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