The breakthrough reported by Paul Dauenhauer of the Chemical Engineering Department in the January 2012 issue of the journal Energy & Environmental Science and later highlighted in Nature Chemistry has been covered in many scientific websites and magazines, including Ethanol Producer Magazine, Science Daily, Physorg.com, Bio-Medicine, Science Codex, Biofuels Digest, Biofuels-News.com, Bioscience Technology, R&D magazine, Bioenergy News, Web Newswire, Checkbiotech.org, esciencenews.com, Iowa Ag Connection, Chemicals Technology and The Cutting Edge. Dauenhauer’s research team has discovered a small molecule that behaves the same as cellulose when it is converted to biofuel. Studying this “mini-cellulose” molecule reveals for the first time the chemical reactions that take place in wood and prairie grasses during high-temperature conversion to biofuel.

This brilliant new tool will allow researchers for the first time to study the reactions inside a biofuel reactor, track the molecules produced by those reactions, and adjust the reactor to produce the highest possible grade of bio-oil. This new experimental technique for studying high-temperature biomass chemistry is called “thin-film pyrolysis.”

“What we have invented here is the basic tool necessary to optimize biofuel reactors,” says Paul Dauenhauer. (February 2012)