K-State's Bioprocessing and Industrial Value-Added Program facility a place for K-State scientists, industry to turn state's crops into products
By Beth Bohn
Kansas State University broke ground Sept. 13, 2002, on its Bioprocessing and Industrial Value-Added Program facility, a place where K-State researchers will work with industry to turn the state's crops into marketable products and test new production processes for grain-based food and non-food products.
The facility was the first priority of Gov. Bill Graves' 21st Century Vision Task Force, which was charged with recommending ways to enhance the future profitability of agriculture in Kansas through value-added opportunities.
The 2001 Kansas Legislature approved $3 million in state funds for construction of the facility and a $4 million loan. Construction was underway by late 2002 and is expected to be finished by March 2004.
The Bioprocessing and Industrial Value-Added Program facility is an important investment by the state of Kansas in Kansas State University and in the future of the state's agricultural industry, said Jon Wefald, K-State president.
"By turning the state's crops into new products, K-State can help create more demand for crops and develop opportunities for new industries," Wefald said. "These new opportunities can benefit Kansas and Kansans by providing new jobs and sources of income."
This new facility also will allow for the expansion of K-State's longtime efforts, through the department of grain science and industry, in working with industry on value-added opportunities for the state's raw agricultural products.
K-State's department of grain science and industry has a worldwide reputation in education and research efforts for grain storage, flour and feed manufacturing sciences, cereal chemistry and process engineering. K-State also is the only university in the United States that grants bachelor of science degrees in baking science, feed science or milling science and management.
"Our new program facility will be structured to provide unique opportunities for industry to assess processing capabilities of new equipment or the feasibility of a new commercial process for product development," said Brendan Donnelly, head of the department of grain science and industry. "The facility also will provide incubator space for entrepreneurs to access the building for an extended period of time to develop new value-added products."
Examples of products which could be produced from grain and grain byproducts, include foods; industrial chemicals; materials, such as plastics; fuels; and animal feed.
The facility will feature the department's extrusion laboratory, now housed in Shellenberger Hall; a fermentation laboratory for developing food and non-food products; and space to allow application of novel processes of grains, such as plastic molding and thermal processing, and for industry to move in equipment and test market new products and processes at a semi-commercial scale.
Ron Madl will serve as administrator of the department of grain science and industry's Bioprocessing and Industrial Value-Added Program.