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					                                    News Release
                      Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station
                Division of Agriculture, University of Arkansas System

                                                                            Feb. 12, 2009
CONTACTS: Mark Cochran, Associate Vice President-Research, Division of Agriculture, and
Director, Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, 479-575-8703.

Researchers as identified in UA departments of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, 575-
2351; Chemical Engineering, 575-4951; Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences, 575-2347;
Entomology, 575-6628; Plant Pathology, 575-2447; Food Science, 575-4605; Animal Science,
575-3745; Poultry Science, 575-2447; Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, 575-2258;
Agricultural and Extension Education, 575-7123; Arkansas Forest Resources Center, Monticello,
870-460-1052; Public Policy Center, 501-671-2001; Southwest Research and Extension Center,
870-777-9702. Rice Research and Extension Center, 870-673-2661.

By Howell Medders, Communications, Division of Agriculture, University of Arkansas System,

EDITOR. Feel free to condense and contact sources to tailor story to your audience. --hm

Department of Energy Funds Arkansas Bioenergy Projects

        FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The University of Arkansas System’s Division of

Agriculture is collaborating with counterparts in other states on bioenergy research and

extension programs supported in part by a $1,968,000 grant from the U.S. Department

of Energy.

        Mark Cochran, director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, is

coordinating the Mid-South/Southeast BioEnergy Consortium, which includes projects in

Arkansas and Georgia.

        ―Arkansas is well positioned for bioenergy production with large areas of cropland

and forests and an innovative processing industry for agricultural and forest products,‖

Cochran said. He added that several Arkansas companies are producing biodiesel using

soy oil, other vegetable oils and animal fats as feedstock.

        ―We are working to support the state’s fledgling biodiesel industry and develop

the information infrastructure that will allow our farmers and entrepreneurs to move

rapidly into the use of cellulosic technology when it comes online,‖ Cochran said.
       Governments and industry around the world are funding research to make the

conversion of woody (cellulosic) plant material to biofuel an economically viable

alternative, Cochran said.

       Sugars are bound in the cellulose in stems and leaves, which are treated with

acids or enzymes to release sugars, which can then be fermented to make fuel. The

process is currently more expensive than converting corn to ethanol or oilseeds to

biodiesel. However, cellulosic feedstocks are more plentiful and less costly. They include

crop and forest residue and crops such as switchgrass that are not used for food and

can be grown on marginal cropland, Cochran said.

       ―Our greatest asset is the resourcefulness of our farmers and entrepreneurs,‖

Cochran said. ―If we give them the technology to work with and information to evaluate

the economic feasibility, they will make it happen.‖

       Some $600,000 of the U.S. Department of Energy grant funds will help support

25 projects in Arkansas. Projects involve research and extension faculty in the Division

of Agriculture’s Arkansas Forest Resources Center at Monticello, the Rice Research and

Extension Center at Stuttgart, Southwest Research and Extension Center at Hope, the

Public Policy Center at Little Rock and departments based on the Fayetteville campus.

       Projects will address four major objectives.

       Cellulosic Transition. Seven projects are to help move from biodiesel and

grain-to-ethanol to the next generation of bioenergy technology using cellulosic

feedstocks. Economically feasible production requires solving a number of problems

related to conversion technology and pre-treatment of feedstock.

       • Julie Carrier, biological and agricultural engineering, is researching pre-

treatment of sweet gum and poplar biomass as potential cellulosic bioenergy feedstock.

In another project, she is developing pre-treatments for forest products residue

       • Matthew Pelkki, Arkansas Forest Resources Center, is studying the logistics

and economics of using sweet gum trees as cellulosic ethanol feedstock.

       • Rubin Morawicki, food science, is working on new uses for soybean meal

resulting from increased demand for soy oil, including extraction of fermentation aids for

cellulosic ethanol production.

       • Agricultural economist Mike Popp and chemical engineers Robert Babcock, Ed

Clausen and Ralph Martin are focusing on increasing the efficiency of producing

bioenergy products from various fats and oils.

       • Food scientist Ya-Jane Wang and chemical engineers Jerry King and Ralph

Martin are developing pre-treatments to enhance efficiency of using agricultural residue

as cellulosic ethanol feedstock.

       • Samy Sadaka, Tom Costello and Karl VanDevender, all in biological and

agricultural engineering, are developing portable syngas and bio-oil conversion systems

that could reduce the need to transport and store forest and crop residue feedstock to a

central plant.

       Feedstock Systems. Eight projects are focused on matching specific feedstocks

and bioenergy conversion technologies and developing viable systems for production,

harvest and processing.

       • Sadaka, Costello, VanDevender and Pelkki are investigating the use of poultry

manure alone or with forest and crop residues to produce syngas and bio-oil.

       • Marty Matlock and Tom Costello, biological and agricultural engineering, are

developing a field-scale ―algal turf scrubber‖ system for extracting oil from algae that is

removed from a water source that contains excessive algae-growing nutrients.

       • Jamie Schuler, Pelkki, Hal Liechty and Chris Stuhlinger, forest resources, are

studying the environmental dynamics of producing fast-growing woody crops as

cellulosic feedstock.
          • David Patterson, forest resources, along with Costello, VanDevender and

Sadaka, are investigating systems for forest residue collection and logistics.

          • Agricultural economists Popp, Lanier Nalley and Bradley Watkins are creating

economic models to analyze the potential costs and returns of marketing crop residues

or producing energy crops compared to current cropping systems.

          • Crop scientists and plant pathologists Nathan Slaton, Robert Bacon, Pengyin

Chen, Terry Kirkpatrick, Larry Purcell, Craig Rothrock, John Rupe and Thad Scott are

evaluating production systems for various oilseed crops as bioenergy feedstock.

          • Crop scientists and plant pathologists Chuck West, Nilda Burgos, Dick Oliver,

Burt Bluhm and David Tebeest are evaluating production systems for switchgrass and

sorghum as cellulosic feedstock.

          • Crop scientists Kristofor Brye, Dirk Philipp, Vic Ford, Larry Purcell and Chuck

West; biological and agricultural engineer Dharmendra Saraswat; and waste-

management specialist Suzanne Hirrel are addressing the environmental impacts of an

expansion of grass crops such as switchgrass and wheat grown for biofuel feedstock.

          Biofuel Education. Five projects will provide educational programs for farm and

industry audiences about biofuel feedstock production, harvesting and processing.

          • Tom Riley, Public Policy Center, and Popp are developing educational

programs for use by county extension agents and others to help inform farmers,

landowners and others about opportunities to produce biofuel feedstock and related


          • Sadaka will develop educational material on biofuels. He is using portable

biofuel conversion units in educational programs for schools, civic groups and other


          • Don Johnson, George Wardlow and Leslie Edgar, agricultural and extension

education, are developing instructional material on engine performance and emission of
engines using biofuels.

        • Entomologist Robert Wiedenmann, plant pathologist Rick Cartwright and crop

scientists Andrew Sharpley, Mike Daniels and Robert Bacon are developing educational

materials on the costs, benefits and sustainability of production systems required for

biofuel feedstock crops.

        • Tamara Walkingstick, Arkansas Forest Resources Center, is providing training

for county extension agents and others on use of forest biomass for biofuel feedstock.

        Co-Products and By-Products. Five projects are designed to develop uses for

co-products and by-products of biofuel production.

        • Animal scientists Charles Maxwell, Beth Kegley, Ken Coffey, Paul Beck and

Wayne Kellogg are evaluating biofuel co-products as animal feed.

        • Patterson and Pelkki are evaluating uses of co-products of wood-based

cellulosic biofuel production.

        • Food scientists Ya-Jane Wang, Navam Hettiarachchy and Andrew Proctor are

examining the feasibility of producing food and pharmaceutical co-products derived from

pre-treatment of biofuel feedstock and from by-products of biofuel production.

        • Poultry scientists Park Waldroup and Susan Watkins are evaluating biofuels by-

products as poultry feed ingredients.

        • Carrier is developing technology to extract phytochemicals from sweet gum

wood prior to pretreatment for use as biofuel feedstock. The phytochemicals have

potential uses for human and animal health, cosmetics and cleaning products.

News releases and photos are available online at

BIOENERGY LAB -- Samy Sadaka demonstrates biofuel processes used in the Division
of Agriculture’s Bioenergy, Biofuel and Bioproducts Laboratory at the Rice Research and
Extension Center, Stuttgart. He works on processes for making biodiesel; gasification,
which transforms solid biomass into syngas that can be substituted for natural gas; and
pyrolysis to convert biomass into bio-oil, which is similar to fuel oil and can be further

Test Sites.jpg:
TEST SITES – Division of Agriculture scientists are conducting research with
switchgrass, sweet sorghum and other potential bioenergy field crops in test plots in or
near Gentry, Fayetteville, Hope, Rohwer, Marianna, Colt, Newport and Keiser.

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