MGP, KABB, Kan. universities forge biorefining R&D collaboration

By Bryan Sims | January 17, 2012

The Kansas Alliance for Biorefining and Bioenergy has teamed up with Atchison, Kan.-based MGP Ingredients Inc. and four Kansas universities to develop innovative technologies and bioproducts using biobased raw materials. Through this collaborative effort, KAAB is awarding a grant worth approximately $1.4 million, which is being matched through in-kind services estimated at a combined $1.5 million from MGP and the participating universities.

Specifically, the three-year research and development effort will be focused on investigating innovative methods for producing a variety of cost-competitive bioproducts such as foams, plastics, fuels and other biobased materials derived from distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), the byproduct of dry-grind corn ethanol production. MGP currently owns and operates a 6 MMgy fuel-grade ethanol production plant in Atchison.

“MGP Ingredients has established itself as a leader in the development, production and marketing of naturally derived specialty ingredients and alcohol products,” said Tim Newkirk, CEO of MGP. “We look forward to further expanding our capabilities in the biobased polymer and plastics markets.”

The majority of the research, testing and analysis will be conducted at Kansas State and Pittsburg State universities with other portions expected to be conducted by Benedictine College and the University of Kansas.

“KABB is fully invested in advancing the use of renewable feedstocks in market-changing ways,” said Jeff Roskam, CEO of KABB. Formed in 2009 through a $4.1 million grant from the Kansas Bioscience Authority’s Centers of Innovation program, KABB is a nonprofit industry-led center located in Wichita that’s focused on identifying opportunities and barriers related to the production of biobased chemicals and biofuels, from harvesting feedstocks through the processing and marketing of organic chemicals.

“We look forward to collaborating with MGP Ingredients, Kansas State University, Pittsburg State University, Benedictine College and the University of Kansas on efforts designed to make meaningful advancements in this area,” Roskam added.

A contract to move forward with the project was signed in December with initial phases of work expected to begin in the coming months, according to a statement released by KABB. Over the course of the project, initial focus will be placed on identifying methods and technologies to produce new biobased products from DDGS. These products are expected to be developed from proteins, oils and cellulose fractions inherently found in DDGS for commercial applications in the field of biorefining.

“We are very grateful to KABB for their outstanding support of this exciting research project,” said Sukh Bassi, vice president of scientific affairs at MGP who is responsible for coordinating and directing the project at the various collaborating institutions. “This cooperative arrangement is a great example of how the public and private sectors can work together to explore and develop new opportunities that benefit our environment and society as a whole.”


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