• 'High-value chemicals' emerge from biofuel testing
    Biofuel testing carried out at Iowa State University has led to the production of high-value chemicals

Biofuel Industry News

'High-value chemicals' emerge from biofuel testing

Sep 06 2010

Biofuel testing undertaken by Iowa State University has had a surprising outcome with the creation of a number of "high-value" chemicals.

Professor of chemistry Walter Trahanovsky was studying biomass at high temperatures in an attempt to create derivatives of sugar from substances such as cellulose.

However, he was surprised to find significant amounts of propylene glycol and ethylene glycol when applying nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to the biofuel testing process.

"These products were unexpected, so we never looked for them - but they were always there," he comments.

In addition to the chemicals, the study also achieved its intended aim of identifying the expected sugar compounds.

However, Professor Trahanovsky adds that the findings indicate that the high-value chemicals can be obtained from biomass, rather than the usual petroleum sources.

Iowa State University engineers have also recently worked on technology to automate the collection of corn cobs for use as cellulosic biomass in ethanol production.

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