Social Innovation: New Biofuels Patented in Wisconsin

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Social Innovation: New Biofuels Patented in Wisconsin

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#WIST invents and patents new biofuels that be boon to #energy industry @Justmeans
Friday, August 24, 2012 - 1:45pm



A social innovation process patented at Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology (WIST) at the University of Wisconsin -Stevens Point could bring economic growth and jobs to the state of Wisconsin. WIST has completed seven years of work on a new biofuels patent and cleverly perfected a process that takes biomass and other products from plant material, separates its key components, n turning them into fuel, carbon fibre and rubber for tyres. The aim of this faculty is to create new approaches to meet current environmental and economic challenges. Eric Singsaas, associate professor of biology at UW-Stevens Point and co-inventor of the biofuels process says, "This gives us an economically viable way to use grass, trees or wood waste to make renewable fuels and chemicals. We're not just making fuel. We're making value-added products."

Working collaboratively to create sustainable social innovation solutions for business and industry, WIST is working with the University's WiSys Technology Foundation to license the intellectual property to private industry for development. The patent protects a method that uses an aqueous solvent to separate biomass into pure cellulose and lignin, the substance that gives woody biomass its rigidity. The lignin-solvent mixture can then be separated from the water to form a high-energy-density fuel that can be used independently or combined with biodiesel.

The pure cellulose can be used in paper making or be converted to fermentable sugars; and it's the sugars that are exciting, as they can be used to make biofuels.

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Sangeeta Haindl is a staff writer for Justmeans on Social Enterprise. When not writing for Justmeans, Sangeeta wears her other hat as a PR professional. Over the years, she has worked with high-profile organizations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from her industry. She now runs her own UK consultancy: Serendipity PR & Media.