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Biorefining Of Renewable Resources – Emerging Opportunities For Engineering Education

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Biology in Engineering

Tagged Division

Biological & Agricultural

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.278.1 - 11.278.16



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Paper Authors


Kurt Rosentrater USDA-ARS

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KURT A ROSENTRATER is a Lead Scientist with the United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, as well as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, South Dakota State University, in Brookings, SD, where he is spearheading a new initiative to develop value-added uses for residue streams resulting from biofuel manufacturing operations. He is formerly an Assistant Professor at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, in the Department of Technology.

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Kasiviswanathan Muthukumarappan

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Kasiviswanathan Muthukumarappan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, South Dakota State University, in Brookings, SD, where he has been instrumental in developing an internationally competitive value-added food and bioprocessing research program. He has been involved in teaching several undergraduate and graduate courses in food and bioprocess engineering for the last nine years. He was formerly a Research Associate in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



The society in which we live has developed an insatiable demand for energy and material goods. Historically these needs have primarily been met by utilizing fossil fuels and other non- renewable raw materials. As environmental concerns grow, however, renewable resources are gaining increased attention. This paper examines industrial biorefineries, which are at the leading edge of the development of emerging biobased industries. Biorefineries, similar in concept to traditional petroleum refineries, utilize various conversion technologies to produce multiple products, including fuels, chemicals, industrial products, and electrical power from renewable biomass sources, such as corn stover, residue straw, perennial grasses, legumes, and other materials. Industrial biorefineries are rapidly increasing both in number as well as in capacity throughout this country, and are thus poised to add significantly to the nation’s industrial goods and energy supplies in coming years. Therefore it is vital for engineering graduates to understand this developing industry and its fundamental concepts, especially those involved in the Agricultural, Biological, Chemical, Environmental, Food, and Process Engineering disciplines. To adequately prepare engineering students for the opportunities presented by biorefining, it is imperative for engineering programs to address this burgeoning industrial segment. Toward this end, this paper will discuss major biorefinery concepts, specific applications, and curriculum modification and incorporation techniques that can be used to achieve these efforts. The trends discussed here and their implications are critical for educators, because in coming years biorefining will be used to simultaneously meet the needs of our society as well as that of environmental stewardship.


As we move into the 21st century, it has become apparent that human societies are over-taxing global resources, and that we are rapidly depleting their finite supplies. This is especially true in the petroleum and petrochemical sectors. Science and technology, however, have progressed to the level that biorenewable materials can now be effectively utilized to produce various manufactured products in their place. Similar to refineries that are used in the petroleum industry, new processing facilities are being designed and constructed to manufacture, from biomass resources, multiple value streams including energy, fuels, chemicals, and various intermediate and finished products. Thus, biomass refineries (known as “biorefineries”) are poised to contribute significantly to the growth and sustainability of the U.S. economy in coming years [1]. Engineering expertise will be required to design, construct, and operate all of the equipment, processes, and facilities for these processing plants. Because biorefineries present many opportunities for the engineering profession, the main objective of this paper is to introduce engineering educators to this new subject so that curricula can be augmented. Toward that end, several essential topics will be discussed, including concepts of biorefineries, the

Rosentrater, K., & Muthukumarappan, K. (2006, June), Biorefining Of Renewable Resources – Emerging Opportunities For Engineering Education Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--412

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