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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Iowa State University
  • Brent H Shanks
  • (515) 294-1895
Award Date:08/29/2008
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 18,500,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 32,322,283
  • FY 2014=$4,151,537
  • FY 2013=$4,025,000
  • FY 2008=$3,250,000
  • FY 2016=$2,955,000
  • FY 2009=$2,055,716
  • FY 2017=$1,795,600
  • FY 2015=$4,289,430
  • FY 2010=$1,750,000
  • FY 2012=$4,000,000
  • FY 2011=$4,000,000
  • FY 2018=$50,000
Start Date:09/01/2008
End Date:08/31/2019
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:NSF Engineering Reasearch Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC)
Federal Award ID Number:0813570
DUNS ID:005309844
Parent DUNS ID:005309844
Program:ERC-Eng Research Centers
Program Officer:
  • Robert McCabe
  • (703) 292-4826

Awardee Location

Street:1138 Pearson
Awardee Cong. District:04

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Iowa State University
Street:1138 Pearson
Cong. District:04

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Lohitharn, N. and Shanks, B.H. "Upgrading of Bio-oil: Effect of Light Aldehydes on Acetic Acid Removal via Esterification" Catal. Commun., v.11, 2009, p.96.

Xi, Y. and R.J. Davis "Influence of Textural Properties and Trace Water on the Reactivity and Deactivation of Reconstructed Layered Hydroxide Catalysts for Transesterification of Tributyrin with Methanol" J. Catal., v.268, 2009, p.307.

Zope, B.N. and Davis, R.J. "Influence of Reactor Configuration on the Selective Oxidation of Glycerol over Au/TiO2" Topics in Catalysis, v.52, 2009, p.269.

Gonzalez, R., Campbell, P., and Wong, M. "Production of ethanol from thin stillage by metabolically engineered Escherichia coli" Biotechol. Letters, v.32 (3), 2010, p.405.

Miao, S. and Shanks, B.H. "Esterification of Biomass Pyrolysis Model Acids over Sulfonic Acid-Functionalized Mesoporous Silicas" Appl. Catal. A: Gen., v.359, 2009, p.113.

Bais, P., Moon S.M., He K., Leitao R., Dreher K., Walk T., Sucaet Y., Barkan L., Wohlgemuth G., Roth R.M., Wurtele E.S., Dixon P., Fiehn O., Lange BM., Shulaev V., Sumner L.W., Welti R., Nikolau B.J., Rhee S.Y., and Dickerson J.A. " A web portal for Plant Metabolomics Experiments" Plant Physiology, v., 2010, p..

Gupta, A., Murarka, A., Campbell, P., and Gonzalez, R. "Anaerobic fermentation of glycerol in Paenibacillus macerans: metabolic pathways and environmental determinants" Appl. Environ. Microbiol., v.75 (18), 2009, p.5871.

Oliver, D.J., Nikolau B.J., Wurtele, E.S. "Acetyl-CoA - life at the metabolic nexus" Plant Science, v.176, 2009, p.597.

West, R. M., Z. Y. Liu, M. Peter, C. A. Gärtner, and J. A. Dumesic "Carbon-carbon bond formation for biomass derived furfurals and ketones by aldol condensation in a biphasic system" Journal of Molecular Catalysis A, v.296, 2008, p.18.

West, R. M., D. J. Braden, and J. A. Dumesic "Dehydration of butanol to butene over solid acid catalysts in high water environments" Journal of Catalysis, v.262, 2009, p.134.

Clomburg, J. M., and Gonzalez, R. "Biofuel production in Escherichia coli: the role of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology" Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol., v.86 (2), 2010, p.419.

Perera, MADN, Choi, S-Y, Wurtele, E.S., Nikolau, B.J. "Quantitative analysis of acyl-Coenzyme-As in plant tissues by an LC-MS-MS electrospray ionization method" Journal of Chromatography B, v.877, 2009, p.482.

Haider, M.A., M.R. Gogate, and R.J. Davis "Fe-Promotion of Supported Rh Catalysts for Direct Conversion of Syngas to Ethanol" J. Catal., v.261, 2009, p.9.

West, R. M., Z. Y. Liu, M. Peter, and J. A. Dumesic "Liquid alkanes with targeted molecular weights from biomass-derived carbohydrates" Chemistry and Sustainability, v.1, 2008, p.417.

Simonetti, D. A., E. L. Kunkes, W. D. Pyrz, L. Murillo, W. Lonergan, J. G. Chen, D. J. Buttrey, and J. A. Dumesic "The role of rhenium in the conversion of glycerol to synthesis gas over carbon supported platinum-rhenium catalysts" Journal of Catalysis, v.260, 2008, p.164.

Nikolau, B. J., M. A. Perera, L. Brachova, and B. Shanks "Platform biochemicals for a biorenewable chemical industry" Plant Journal, v.54, 2008, p.536.

Heggenstaller, A.H., R.P. Anex, M. Liebman, D.N. Sundberg, and L.R. Gibson "Productivity and nutrient dynamics in bioenergy double-cropping systems" Agronomy Journal, v.100 (6), 2008, p.1740.

Ben-Israel, I; Yu, G; Austin, MB; Bhuiyan, N; Auldridge, M; Nguyen, T; Schauvinhold, I; Noel, JP; Pichersky, E; Fridman, E "Multiple Biochemical and Morphological Factors Underlie the Production of Methylketones in Tomato Trichomes" PLANT PHYSIOLOGY, v.151, 2009, p.1952. doi:10.1104/pp.109.14641  View record at Web of Science

Cha, S., Song, Z., Nikolau, B.J., Yeung, E.S. "Direct profiling and imaging of epicuticular waxes on arabidopsis thaliana by laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry using silver colloid as a matrix" Analytical Chemistry, v.81, 2009, p.2991.

Heggenstaller, A.H., M. Liebman, and R.P. Anex "Growth analysis of biomass production in sole-crop and double-crop corn systems" Crop Science, v.49, 2009, p.2215.

Gogate, M.R. and Davis, R.J. "X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy of Fe-Promoted Rh/TiO2 Catalyst for Synthesis of Ethanol from Synthesis Gas" ChemCatChem, v.1, 2009, p.295.

Rodriguez-Moya, M., and Gonzalez, R. "Systems biology approaches for the microbial production of biofuels" Biofuels, v.1 (2), 2010, p.291.

Heggenstaller, A.H., K.J. Moore, M. Liebman, D.N. Sundberg, and R.P. Anex "Nitrogen influences productivity, resource partitioning, and carbon storage by perennial, warm-season grasses" Agronomy Journal, v.101 (6), 2009, p.1363.

Hruby, S.L. and Shanks, B.H. "Acid-Base Cooperativity in Condensation Reactions with Functionalized Mesoporous Silica Catalysts" J. Catal., v.263, 2009, p.181.

Dellomonaco, C., and Gonzalez, R. "The path to next generation biofuels: successes and challenges in the era of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology" Microbial Cell Factories, v.9, 2010, p.3.

Portle, S., Iadevaial, S., K.-Y., Bennett, G.N., Mantzaris, N. "Environmentally-modulated changes in fluorescence distribution in cells with oscillatory network dynamics" J Biotechnology, v.140 (3-, 2009, p.203.

Isci, A., J. N. Himmelsbach, A. L. Pometto III, D. R. Raman, R. P. Anex "Aqueous ammonia soaking of switchgrass followed by simultaneous saccharification and fermentation" Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, v.144 (1), 2007, p.69.

Isci, A., J.N. Himmelsbach, J. Strohl, A.L. Pometto III, D.R. Raman, R.P. Anex "Pilot scale fermentation of aqueous ammonia soaked switchgrass" Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, v.157 (3), 2008, p.453.

Kunkes, E. L., D. A. Simonetti, R. M. West, J. C. Serrano-Ruiz, C. A. Gaertner, and J. A. Dumesic "Catalytic conversion of biomass to mono-functional hydrocarbons and targeted liquid fuel classes" Science, v.322, 2008, p.417.

Durnin, G., Clomburg, J., Yeates, Z., Alvarez, P.J.J., Zygourakis, K., Campbell, P., and Gonzalez, R. "Understanding and harnessing the microaerobic metabolism of glycerol in Escherichia coli" Biotechnol. Bioeng., v.103 (1), 2009, p.148.

Isci, A., P.T. Murphy, R.P. Anex, K.J. Moore "A rapid simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) technique to determine ethanol yields" BioEnergy Research, v.1 (2), 2008, p.163.

Anex, R.P., L.R. Lynd, M.S. Laser, A.H. Heggenstaller, M. Liebman "Growing energy, closing cycles: the potential for enhanced nutrient cycling through the coupling of agricultural and bioenergy systems" Crop Science Journal, v.47, 2007, p.1327.

Wu, L., Dixon, P.M., Nikolau, B.J., Kraus, G.A., Widrlechner, M.P., Wurtele, E.S. "Metabolic Profiling of Echinacea Genotypes and a Test of Alternative Taxonomic Treatments" Planta Medica, v.75, 2009, p.178.

Laser, M., E. Larson, B. Dale, M. Wang, N. Greene, and L.R. Lynd "Comparative Analysis of Efficiency, Environmental Impact, and Process Economics for Mature Biomass Refining Scenarios" Biofuels, Bioprod. Bioref., v.3, 2009, p.247.

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

The production of industrial chemicals is a $400 billion-plus per year enterprise in the U.S. that impacts all aspects of society from personal care products to building materials.  This industry is predicated on the utilization of crude oil and natural gas.  However, a new component of the chemical industry is now emerging, namely the production of chemicals from biobased feedstocks both for utilizing renewable carbon and for generating novel molecules.  As such, the chemical industry is transitioning from solely fossil carbon-based to one that includes biology-derived carbon.  The development of conversion technologies needed to facilitate this transition was the focus of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC).

Unlike the transportation fuels market, which has a limited number of products, the chemical industry has a broad array of smaller volume products and thus requires a broader technology base than the fuels industry.  In turn, this places a higher premium on technology development.  Therefore, initial technology development for biobased chemicals is primarily focusing on chemicals with enhanced properties.  However, longer term the transition to renewable carbon as an important source of chemicals is still a vital goal, so technology being developed needs to be broadly generalizable.

The primary objective for CBiRC has been to rigorously evaluate two important concepts; a) development of efficient conversion processes for producing chemicals from biobased feedstocks must synergistically draw from both biological and chemical catalysis technology, and b) emergence of a new biobased chemical industry will be facilitated by developing a generalized framework that can produce a range of chemicals including both drop-in replacements and novel molecules from a common technological basis.  These concepts were not the basis of biobased chemical research and technology when CBiRC was founded.  The center created a unique centralized location for biological and chemical catalyst researchers and industries.  The second key concept for the center was the development of a generalized framework that is capable of being exploited to make a range of chemicals.  CBiRC developed the bioprivileged molecule concept that is flexible in its capacity to generate a series of platform chemicals, which can be further converted to existing and novel chemical products.

CBiRC has shown that integrating biological and chemical catalysis creates a generalized platform that can be leveraged to produce a range of biobased chemical products, which is vital for developing the biobased chemical industry.  The intrinsic robustness of this approach was clearly demonstrated over the past ten years.  In 2008, the center focused on producing biobased chemicals that would directly replace petrochemicals, i.e., producing the same molecule from a biomass source rather than a fossil carbon source.  This focus was driven by crude oil prices of over $100 per barrel as well as the prospect of a carbon tax to push the introduction of renewable carbon into the chemical enterprise.  Subsequently, crude oil prices have dramatically decreased and shale gas has become a price-advantaged fossil carbon feedstock.  Additionally, there has been no significant regulatory move to favor renewable carbon over fossil carbon.  Therefore, the best opportunities for biobased chemicals in the shorter term has become the production of novel chemical compounds that can impart improved performance properties in their end-use application.  The generalized platforms developed by CBiRC did not change but moved from emphasizing replacement chemicals to novel chemicals.

The technology developed through CBiRC led to nine startup company spinoffs facilitated by entrepreneurial activities initiated by the center and a number of technology licenses.  Novel biobased molecules were found and developed that imparted enhanced properties for insecticides, antimicrobials, preservatives, lubricants, and polymers.

Last Modified: 12/17/2019
Modified by: Brent H Shanks

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