The National Corn to Ethanol Research Center (NCERC), a partner of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), submitted two grant proposals to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) FY21 Bioenergy Technologies (BETO) Multi-Topic Funding Opportunity Announcement. Both proposals would expand the use of corn as an industrial feedstock. NCGA was integral in getting BETO to clarify corn grain as an acceptable feedstock, meaning that starch-derived sugars, specifically starches from field/feed corn, were clarified as acceptable.
The first proposal included NCERC as a Co-PI and was led by Marquis Energy. The purpose of this collaboration is to scale up a conversion method that utilizes corn as a feedstock for sustainable aviation fuel. The work being done at the intermediate scale will be performed at NCERC and brings together additional research centers, including the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and US Navy NAWCWD China Lake, to see through a solution that brings significant opportunity for expanding and repurposing the 16 billion-gallon-per-year corn-to-ethanol infrastructure.
The National Corn Growers Association has a vested interest in discovering new uses for corn and has provided a letter of support for this initiative. From renewable plastics to novel chemicals and other energy and liquid fuel applications, corn is competitively positioned as the commercial feedstock of choice thanks to corn’s sustainability, abundance, and affordability. In fact, according to USDA ERS Feed Outlook data, ending stocks for 2020/2021 are around 1,552 million bushels.
The second proposal led by NCERC, “Scaling up a Low-Cost Low Energy Cellulosic Sugar Production,” contributed to the validation of a low-cost, energy-efficient conversion method for cellulosic materials- and waste-to-biofuel. The funding of this proposal would bring significant value to companies who are pursuing the conversion of a variety of bio-based feedstocks to a sugar stream which can then be converted to countless biotechnologies, such as biofuels, biochemicals, biomaterials, and bioproducts.
Partners on this proposal included leaders from government laboratories, academia, and the private sector, including the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU) and Joint BioEnergy Institute of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, Idaho National Laboratory, Iowa State University, Northern Illinois University, Aemetis, Recology, Visolis, and Zestbio.
You can learn more about corn as an industrial feedstock and NCGA’s initiatives around new uses at ncga.com/newuses.
For more information on NCERC, click here.