The Dakota Bioprocessing Consortium (DakotaBioCon) brings together researchers from four institutions in two neighboring states, North Dakota and South Dakota, with similar geographical, socio-economic and environmental diversity: North Dakota State University (NDSU), South Dakota State University (SDSU), University of North Dakota (UND) and South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SDSMT). The vision of DakotaBioCon is through cutting-edge research and development to become a recognized intellectual leader in biomass bioprocessing that can help the region, nation and global society transition to a bio-based economy. The primary goal of DakotaBioCon is to establish a multi-state, multi-institution, multi-disciplinary, collaborative infrastructure to enable and facilitate the development of novel bioprocessing technologies for sustainable production of high-value chemicals and materials from renewable resources, with emphasis on lignin-derived products as economically viable substitutes for imported fossil-fuel based chemicals. DakotaBioCon achieves its goal of regional infrastructure development in the area of lignin bioprocessing through the accomplishment of several integrated objectives:
1) Convert lignin into low molecular weight chemical fractions using a suite of novel processing methods, including high-temperature liquefaction and biodegradation of lignin, and analytical methods, (chromatography, spectrometry and chemical methods) to enable mass balance closure;
2) Decipher the reaction mechanisms associated with the proposed lignin disassembly methods as a means to optimize and channel lignin fragmentation reaction pathways;
3) Design process/purification schemes to convert precursor chemicals into valuable products;
4) Develop new monomers/polymers and composites from lignin-derived aromatics/phenolics;
5) Develop and upgrade the research and education infrastructure through joint collaborative activities that include sharing of data, knowledge, expertise, equipment, facilities, and educational programs.
The impacts of DakotaBioCon are far-reaching, and extend beyond the award period. Bioprocessing of renewable resources addresses strategic national security priorities by reducing national dependence on imported oil and creates new jobs. To ensure continuation and long-term sustainability, DakotaBioCon leverages existing partnerships within UND's Sustainable Energy Research Initiative and Supporting Education (SUNRISE), SDSU's SunGrant Initiative, and SDSMT's Center for Bioprocessing Research and Development (CBRD) and future commercial intellectual property.
DakotaBioCon focuses on bioprocessing of lignin to renewable phenolics, aromatic chemicals and green polymers with potential uses as chemical and polymeric alternatives to petrochemicals. New knowledge and scientific contributions to the field of lignin bioprocessing are being generated. The intellectual merit of the proposed research approach is: 1) the potential for development of new, more cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly methods/agents for lignin depolymerization; 2) the potential for development of a suite of novel analytical methods enabling detailed product analysis; 3) the potential for deciphering the mechanistic aspects of lignin thermochemical and biological fragmentation to attain enhanced conversion rates and/or generate new lignin building-block precursors for industrial chemical processes; and 4) the potential for development of new, green materials with improved chemical and physical properties.
DakotaBioCon infrastructure supports basic and applied research programs and offer expanded education, training and workforce development opportunities for a diverse cohort of K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students. It contributes to meeting national energy and economic security needs. These programs are leveraged to enhance collaboration, knowledge, and resource-sharing in the growing interdisciplinary field of renewable energy and materials. The education and workforce development strategy of DakotaBioCon are characterized by an interdisciplinary approach and a unique web of partnerships that helps advance these programs to the next level of performance and delivery. Research findings are widely disseminated to the scientific community and public through website, news media, radio, public databases, presentations at national and international meetings, and peer-reviewed publications in journals of international repute.
PUBLICATIONS PRODUCED AS A RESULT OF THIS RESEARCH
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Jin, H.; Wang, X.; Gu, Z.; Fan, Q.; Luo B.. "A facile method for preparing nitrogen-doped graphene and its application in supercapacitors," Journal of Power Sources, v.273, 2014, p. 1156-1162.
Christopher, L.P., Yao, B., Ji, Y.. "Lignin biodegradation with laccase-mediator systems," Frontiers in Energy Research, v.2, 2014, p. 1-13.