Pacific Northwest Regional Collaborations
A complementary research interest in bioproducts is bringing together industry, processors, growers, universities and PNNL to develop new methods for converting agricultural and food processing residue and wastes into commercially valuable "bio-based" energy and industrial products. We envision expanded collaborations to examine and develop methods for converting agricultural and food processing residue and wastes into bio-based fuels, power and industrial products, such as chemicals for plastics, solvents and fibers. Industry, processors and growers will be able to use and profit from the products and technologies and, in some cases, will profit from the discoveries through licenses.
The collaborations will help to more fully utilize the productivity of American farms, which are already the most productive in the world. They will explore new uses for such field residue as leaves, straw and stover, or discarded culls, hulls, peelings or pulp remaining after processing. Currently the market for such residues is typically livestock feed, which provides a low economic return to the producer. In some cases, food processing and farm residues can become a financial liability if they require disposal.
The collaborations will create processes and products that are better for the environment. These include using waste streams as raw material - or feedstocks - supplied to processing plants, developing energy efficient processes, and developing a better understanding of the integrated environmental, energy and economic impact of the processes and products that are created.
A key element in our collaborations is the building of the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory at the campus of Washington State University Tri-Cities. This building will house the PNNL bioproducts research beginning in 2007. This facility will co-locate PNNL bioproducts research and WSU-Tri-Cities teachers and researchers to allow a more active interaction on subjects of common interest. Our expanding efforts with WSU should support an expanding bioproducts industry in the Mid-Columbia region.