KU, Archer Daniels Midland form biofuel research partnership

After receiving $2.4 million in outside funding, a new research collaboration between Kansas University and Archer Daniels Midland Co. will focus on new ways to approach biofuel refining.

The funding comes in the form of a $1.2 million grant from the Kansas Bioscience Authority, which was matched by another $1.2 million from ADM.

Carey Novak, director of business and industry outreach for KU, said he hoped the partnership could lead to additional ADM business operations in Kansas.

The three-year agreement will fund research in converting waste products from biomass — things such as corn stalks or wheat straw — into useable chemicals such as plastics, lubricants or fuels for other uses.

“It’s a good approach because it kind of mimics petroleum refining,” Novak said, where many of the chemical byproducts of that process get turned into adhesives, plastics or a host of other chemicals.

He said the partnership addressed one method of raising funds for research and development in a challenging economic climate, and could increase the likelihood of KU researchers earning federal funds later as they gain experience and knowledge.

KU will contribute about $334,000 of in-kind support for the project, including providing leadership for the project from its Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis.

ADM is an agricultural processing company with its headquarters in Decatur, Ill. It employs about 27,000 people worldwide, including more than 500 in Kansas at plants and other facilities in Abilene, Arkansas City, Dodge City, Salina and Overland Park.