Published: Jan. 17, 2013

Award aids MSU biofuel technology development

Contact(s): Mark Fellows Media Communications office: (517) 884-0166

New federal funding will support a Michigan State University corporate partnership focused on turning crop residues into fuel and other products.

A $2.5 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to MSU biobased technology affiliate MBI and partner Novozymes supports optimization of its enzyme technologies to cost-effectively extract fermentable sugars from processed corn stover—cornstalks and leaves.

“There are two major challenges in converting agricultural biomass into biobased products,” said Allen Julian, MBI’s Chief Business Officer. “One is the challenge of handling, storing and hauling low-density biomass to the refinery. The other is the challenge of breaking down the biomass cost-effectively into its constituent sugars.”

MBI is using a prior $4.3 million USDOE award to scale up a process called AFEX, which uses pressurized ammonia vapor to process biomass so that enzymes can more effectively break it down into fermentable sugars. The AFEX process also enables the production of biomass pellets that can be economically stored, transported to a biorefinery, and there fermented to make biofuels, chemicals and other products.

MBI is currently completing the installation of a one ton-per-day pilot AFEX reactor at its facility south of the MSU campus, scaling up technology developed by Bruce Dale, University Distinguished Professor of chemical engineering and materials science.

Novozymes is a global enzyme technology company based in Denmark. More information can be found at A holding of the MSU Foundation, MBI is located in the University Corporate Research Park in Lansing, south of the MSU campus. For more information, visit


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