Into the Lab: Biosystems

Department head Steven Taylor and faculty member Sushil Adhikari are collaborating with colleagues from North Carolina State University, the University of Georgia and the University of Tennessee on a $15 million bioenergy project funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The initiative, called the Southeast Energy Development (SEED) Fellowship program, is a part of the Southeast Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems (IBSS) project. The goal of IBSS is to demonstrate real-world solutions towards economically and environmentally sustainable production and conversion of biomass-to-biofuel in the Southeast. As a pilot project in summer 2012, five undergraduate students were selected as SEED fellows from Auburn University and Tuskegee University, including three biosystems engineering students. The group spent three weeks in the field learning different facets of biofuels production and the remaining seven weeks at Auburn conducting research, including gasification using southern pine biomass, analysis and fuel production, supercritical phase Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, biomass fractionation, flowability of ground southern pine biomass feedstocks and rapid characterization of biomass feedstocks. Two biosystems engineering students will serve as SEED fellows this summer. The program will continue for four more years.

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