Archive for Thursday, May 5, 2011

KU research team receives $5.6 million grant to find replacements to petroleum-based chemicals in household products

May 5, 2011


Bala Subramaniam, professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at Kansas University, leads a research team that received a USDA grant to help find ways to replace the petroleum-based chemicals used in many household products.

Bala Subramaniam, professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at Kansas University, leads a research team that received a USDA grant to help find ways to replace the petroleum-based chemicals used in many household products.

A Kansas University research team has been awarded $5.6 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to find a more environmentally friendly way to develop chemicals used in many everyday products.

Bala Subramaniam is a KU distinguished professor of chemical and petroleum engineering and the director of the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis at KU. He led the research team that received one of seven grants awarded by the USDA from about 300 applications.

KU will partner with Archer Daniels Midland, headquartered in Decatur, Ill., as part of the project. KU and ADM will invest $1.4 million in matching funds for the grant.

The grants were announced as part of an effort to advance clean energy efforts and as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Subramaniam said many chemicals necessary for products we use every day — plastics, laundry detergents and bathroom cleaners — are made in a process that uses petroleum. The new research will look for ways the same chemicals can be made using bio-based products such as nonfood crops and agricultural leftovers.

“This is the only sustainable option for making these chemical products in the long term,” Subramaniam said.

Today, about 90 percent of the world’s petroleum goes toward fuel and about 10 percent toward making these kinds of chemicals, he said. But that process is financially lucrative — the 10 percent of crude oil devoted toward chemicals can bring 60 to 70 percent of the profits, he said.

That means that if the research is successful in even a few of the targeted chemicals, it could mean new revenue streams are opened for biorefining companies, he said.

As with any grant, the money means KU will be able to hire more researchers and more postdoctoral fellows, but Subramaniam said this research could have additional significant impacts on the rural Kansas economy.

It gets expensive fast to transport biomass over long distances, so the potential exists in Kansas to create a new kind of industry around this sort of chemical refining process, Subramaniam said.

“We could be a powerhouse with the potential for green manufacturing,” said Julie Goonewardene, KU’s associate vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship.

She also said the partnership with ADM is another strong indication that the research holds the potential for success.

Companies try to align themselves with the very best faculty in the field, Goonewardene said.

“With Bala, they’re basically saying: ‘We want access to him and the research that he’s doing,’” she said.

And if they would like the opportunity to license the technologies later, they will have an opportunity to do so, along with any other potentially interested companies, she said.


lawrenceguy40 4 years ago

More welfare for the liberal elite.

More green propaganda with no basis in truth.

More of our hard earned taxes wasted.

When will barry o learn that the country is broke and we cannot waste money by keeping these idle academics employed and funding their liberal indoctrination masquerading as science?

550 days.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

ADM is liberal? Corprofascist is a more apt description, so I don't understand why you aren't cheering this announcement.

MyName 4 years ago

Yes, because clearly you earn a PhD in engineering by masquerading as a scientist. It's all a big pretend game with lab coats and chemistry sets.

And let's compare $5 Million to what it costs to run even airstrikes in Libya for a day then get back to the rest of the class on "waste".

kugrad 4 years ago

Because you are an expert on environmentally beneficial catalysis you are so qualified to say "More green propaganda with no basis in truth." Um hm. thought so.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

Since this proposal gets both the far right and the far left (lawrenceguy40 and bozo respectively) so mad, it must be a worthwhile proposal.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

Yea, we know, in your world, if you need to find the right answer, you just put all those proposed answers in a blender, and put it on puree.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

In your world it's a little red book.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

From your earlier post, I took it your impression of me was that I was in the middle. Now you're suggesting I'm on the right, just because I said you were on the left. Come on, bozo, where am I, in your opinion? I'll give you a hint. Left on some issues and right on others. You had it correct the first time, in the middle. You got caught up second guessing yourself when I said you were on the left.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"Come on, bozo, where am I, in your opinion?"


jhawkinsf 4 years ago

You see Bozo, when one is on the left on some issues and right on others, that person is forced to think critically. Hearing both sides of an argument, the person must put the pieces of the puzzle together. Sometimes, it's confusing. Or, a person can read a little red book, or whatever dogmatic literature there is out there at any given time and simply regurgitate whatever it says without any critical thinking.
Pick an issue, any issue, and you will have a hard time predicting where I stand on that issue. There are times when I have a hard time predicting. Maybe I need to do more research. Maybe I've done so much and seen so many points of view that I am paralyzed. But you're easier to predict. And you're so sure you're correct on every topic that you come across as someone who refuses to even consider the merits of the other side. All your diatribes about corprofascists and calling people willfully ignorant, the rich are poor so the poor must pay, it just shows you're not willing to look at things from a different perspective. You say I'm confused, thank you, bozo. That be the nicest thing you've said to me.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"KU will partner with Archer Daniels Midland, "

Don't expect anything "green" to come of this. With ADM involved, the production of the feedstock will require massive inputs of petroleum-derived products (just as ethanol production does.)

jafs 4 years ago

There are already a number of environmentally friendly products available for all of the uses mentioned in the article.

Why not just use those?

mdlund0 4 years ago

What a depressing bunch of comments. You all crap on anything that even resembles good news. Smart, hard-working people are trying to come up with ideas and solutions that will bring us a better future and not a positive comment in sight. Just a bunch of conspiracy theories and bitching about evil corporations. If the government funds it, it's wasting your tax dollars... if a corporation funds it, they're trying to avoid paying taxes and scheming to do evil. When you have nothing but negative comments and offer no solutions, it shouldn't be surprising that you're not taken seriously.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"What a depressing bunch of comments."

It's not the comments that are depressing. It's the "Titanic" state of corporate agriculture that's depressing.

"You all crap on anything that even resembles good news."

No, the crap is that it merely resembles good news, and if these usual suspects (ADM, not the professor) do their usual thing, they'll get the short-term profits, and the rest of us will be stuck with the environmental mess they create.

mdlund0 4 years ago

LesBlevins: ADM is trying to steal your process by partnering up with an entity that wants nothing to do with it? That's logical.

You have a patent for the "Ornamental design for a double door unit for a firebox". The patent's three pages long and consists of nothing but drawings. I assure you, no one is in a conspiracy to take your ideas because no one wants them. This will be confirmed in three years when your patent expires and there is still no interest. Wait and watch.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 4 years ago

Must maintain the status quo...heavy breathing...Must maintain the status quo...heavy breathing...Must maintain the status quo...heavy breathing...Must maintain the status quo...heavy breathing... We're all heavy breathinged. Until the collection and processing is devoid of ancient sun and global politics, will all be slaves...short of possibles and hope. The corporation will not be televised.

gracecountry62 4 years ago

My My more wasted tax dollars for something as stupid as that. Use the monies for the homeless or unemployed . This government is so back wards

Sunny Parker 4 years ago

This is just something else! Stealing from hard working americans for your ignorant pet projects!

pace 4 years ago

I am glad to think my kids will have better non-petroleum choices, sorry that so much of my taxes, which I pay, go straight to support oil billionaires in their 7 palatial homes. Research, science, education, that is an investment, giving my tax money to koch, not so much. I pay taxes to support schools, infrastructure. I think the wars need to end, tax breaks for Koch need to end.

devobrun 4 years ago

And the scientific machine rolls on.
Tax money and corporate money chasing after that which already exists. Oh, but it is green. God. Meaningless, but satisfies the mindless. Oh look Megan, it sparkles and it is green, let's buy it. Marketing that which already exists, but in a green package.

pace 4 years ago

So you think this is just a distraction from the real business of shoveling our tax money straight into Koch's mouth?

Godot 4 years ago

Ammonia, lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda, steam.

When do I get to pick up that multimillion dollar check?

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