BioCentury Research Farm Update
Bio-Polymer Processing Facility celebrates first production run
Original article by John Burnett-Larkins, Chemical and Biological Engineering
The Bio-Polymer Processing Facility has celebrated a major milestone: It recently launched its first production run of biopolymers – plastics that are made from the conversion of fats and vegetable oils. Construction of the plant, which is located at the BioCentury Research Farm (BCRF), was spearheaded by BCRF affiliates Eric Cochran, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, and R. Christopher Williams, the Gerald and Audrey Olson Professor in civil, construction and environmental engineering.
Since its inception, the vision for the plant was to allow university engineers to research and develop the process for producing biopolymers, which has numerous commercial uses including asphalt paving, adhesives, coatings and packing materials. It also “de-risks” the technology for companies that may be interested in producing large quantities of biopolymers. The facility is able to produce 1,000 pounds of biopolymers per day and will play a key role in evaluation for industry. The plant also serves as a valuable source of experiential learning for both undergraduate and graduate students in both of the involved engineering departments.
ABE receives tractor from Deere & Company
Deere & Company has loaned a tractor to the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE). The tractor is an 8370R and will be used for hands-on teaching in Sukup Hall and for research projects at the BCRF and surrounding research farms. The loan program has been in place for several years.
Kinze fellowship awarded to BCRF affiliate
Matt Darr, associate professor in ABE and BCRF affiliate, has received a fellowship recently created by the founders and owners of KINZE Manufacturing Inc. in Williamsburg, Iowa. Jon and Marcia Kinzenbaw established the Kinze Manufacturing Fellowship in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.
Darr began his career at Iowa State in 2008 and teaches courses related to precision agriculture and machinery electronic systems in both the agricultural and biosystems engineering and the agricultural systems technology programs. His research focuses on the use of electronic technology and data analytics to solve applied engineering challenges in agriculture. He manages a team of university professionals who provide leadership in ag machinery topics ranging from precision agriculture, telematics data analytics, unmanned aerial systems and next generation machinery automation. The fellowship will be used to enhance teaching methods and further research in precision agriculture.
BCRF completes milling projects
Multiple milling and sizing projects were completed for off-campus clients during March and April. Various hammermills were used to provide biomass material from 200 microns up to 3,175 microns. Particle size distributions were performed and moisture contents and bulk densities were determined. The BCRF also milled biomass material to support Iowa State University research including pyrolysis and other processes.
Visitors tour BCRF
The BCRF had the following visitors: Ames High School students, ASABE Midwest Regional Rally, BioForge Lab, Cedar Valley Alliance, Center for Industrial Research and Service, Deere & Company, Dordt College students, FFA State Convention, Griffith Foods, Hebei Chinese Delegation, Origin Technologies, People's Bank Ag customers, Roeslein, and Valent BioSciences Corp.