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K-State Today

June 30, 2016



Engineering team earns National Science Foundation award for biofuel manufacturing project

By Mary Rankin

With today's economy and society highly dependent on liquid transportation fuels, development of domestically produced and environmentally safe alternatives is increasingly important. Research conducted by Meng Peter Zhang, assistant professor in the industrial and manufacturing systems engineering department at Kansas State University, will address this challenge.

Zhang was recently awarded a three-year, $299,969, National Science Foundation Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation grant for his project, "Increasing Sugar Yield in Biofuel Manufacturing through Control of Cellulosic Biomass Particle Size."

"Biofuels derived from cellulosic biomass offer one of the best near- to mid-term alternatives," Zhang said, "and reducing the size of cellulosic biomass is the first step in manufacturing biofuels."

Zhang's team, which includes Donghai Wang, professor of biological and agricultural engineering, and Timothy Dienes, instructor in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, will focus its efforts on understanding the relationship between cellulosic biomass particle size and biofuel yield.

"Successful completion of this research will build a foundation for determining optimum particle size in biofuel manufacturing, in order to minimize energy consumption in size reduction and maximize biofuel yield," he said.

The Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation Division in the Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation funds basic research and education in support of the foundation's strategic goals directed at advances in civil, mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering, and materials design.