Farm News, IA 11-16-07 Plans for new Iowa Bioeconomy Institute announced

Farm News, IA
Plans for new Iowa Bioeconomy Institute announced
By KRISS NELSON, Farm News staff writer
AMES - The Board of Regents for the State of Iowa announced on Oct. 31 plans
Robert C. Brown, the Iowa Farm Bureau Director of Biorenewables Program
at Iowa State.for a new Bioeconomy Institute that will be directed by The
Institute is replacing Iowa State’s Office of Biorenewables Programs and will
eventually be housed in a new Biorenewables Laboratory Building planned for
construction on the west side of the campus.
Brown said the institute’s general goals include reducing the country’s
dependance on imported petroleum; developing sustainable biomass production
practices that protect land and water resources; improving environmental quality
by reducing the use of fossil fuels; diversifying markets for farmers’ crops and
creating jobs and opportunities for rural communities where biomass crops are
grown and processed.
Six program areas that will be focused on include: corn and biofuels;
biorenewable chemicals; thermo chemical technologies such as gasification and
fast pyrolysis; harvest, storage and transportation of biomass; feedstock
production and biorenewables education.
“These goals will be accomplished by organizing faculty to develop technologies
that convert crops and plant-based materials into biofuels and other biobased
products,” said Brown.
“The new Bioeconomy Institute is extremely important to Iowa State, to Iowa and
to our nation,” said Iowa State President Gregory Geoffroy in a statement. “By
developing technologies that depend on agricultural resources instead of
imported petroleum, the institute can help improve our national security,
transform rural economies and counter global climate change. This institute will
also help the state remain a leader in meeting the country’s needs for renewable
fuels and products.”
The Office of Biorenewables Programs (OBP) is being replaced by the new
Bioeconomy Institute, Brown said. The OBP managed the early years of ISU’s
Bioeconomy Initiative which was started by Geoffroy in 2002.
According to Brown, the new institute builds upon the past successes of the OBP
in organizing faculty into interdisciplinary teams that take a systems approach to
biorenewables research.
“The institute formalizes these efforts by setting up an administrative team that
has the time and resources to help us accomplish even more,” Brown said. “The
institute, for example, will support faculty who lead major grant applications. It will
also add a staff person to help prepare proposals and administer large contracts.
It will add a staff person to work as a liaison with federal agencies and
Brown said he hopes the Bioeconomy Institute will help faculty apply their
technical expertise to problems in biorenewables by alerting them to the
opportunities and teaming them with other faculty. The institute, he believes will
also benefit producers and companies interested in participating in the emerging
bioeconomy through production of biomass crops and their conversion to
biobased products.
“We think the institute will benefit the economy of Iowa by expanding economic
opportunities for the people of Iowa. Widespread adoption of biofuels will also
have important environmental benefits, both locally and globally,” said Brown.
All of the support made possible by the new institute will help Iowa State advance
the science and engineering behind the emerging bioeconomy.
“The institute will build upon a fiver-year initiative at ISU that has brought us to
the national prominence in the field of biofuels and bioenergy,” says the proposal
for the institute. “The establishment of the institute will help assure ISU’s
continued prominence in this rapidly advancing field.”