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NCERC Researcher Takes Stage at Department of Energy Conference

News Release
Contact: Courtney Breckenridge
Office: 618-659-6737 ext. 230

Dr. Arun Athmanathan

EDWARDSVILLE - NCERC at SIUE researcher Dr. Arun Athmanathan will present his findings on corn stover pretreatment methods at a U.S. Department of Energy conference this week in DC.

“Arun’s selection for presentation at high-profile Department of Energy conference is a testament to the success of our postdoctoral fellowship program,” NCERC Director John Caupert said. “Thanks to the foresight and vision of SIUE and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, our research team continues to deliver impactful research, compete for new grant-funded research opportunities, and share NCERC’s research findings with diverse audiences of industry, policy-makers and academia. We congratulate Arun on this professional achievement and look forward to his future successes.”

Athmanthan will present a poster titled “Assessing the Scale-Up Potential of Aqueous Ammonia Pretreatment of Maize Stover” at the DOE’s Biomass 2014: Growing the Future Bioeconomy conference July 29-30.  The annual conference brings together government officials, federal lawmakers, industry leaders, and experts from all areas of the bioenergy supply chain to discuss industry challenges and opportunities, including technology, pathway, and public policy needs.

NCERC Research Director Dr. Sabrina Trupia and Athmanathan collaborated on the ongoing project, funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Corn Growers Association, to scale previously published pretreatment processes up from bench scale.

“The use of ammonia for cellulose pretreatment is highly promising due to its efficacy at lower temperatures, which could mean massive energy savings on a large scale,” Athamanathan said. “The work has thrown up interesting results and posed unexpected challenges, and I very much look forward to discussing the same with fellow biomass researchers at DC to see how we can extend upon it.”

Athmanathan joined the NCERC in January as a result of a joint initiative between the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and SIUE to launch a postdoctoral fellowship research program. Athmanathan’s broad range of experiences in the characterization and fermentation of many cellulosic and advanced feedstocks, including corn stover and sweet sorghum bagasse, as well as his studies under biofuels pioneers like Nathan Mosier, Mike Ladisch, and Nancy Ho, have proven an excellent complement to the Center’s research division.

In October, Athmanathan will be a featured speaker during the National Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo in Minneapolis, where he will present “A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Biomass Particle Size Reduction in Cellulosic Ethanol Manufacturing.”

About the NCERC
The NCERC at SIUE is a nationally recognized research center dedicated to the development and commercialization of biofuels, specialty chemicals and other renewable compounds. The Center’s fully functional dry grind pilot plant and laboratories are equipped with advanced biofuels capabilities including corn fractionation, pretreatment, and a fermentation suite with 5, 30, 150 and 1500L scale-up. Facilities are staffed by industry veterans with more than 100 years of collective experience in fermentation and biofuels production. This knowledgeable team has the flexibility and expertise to design and carry out projects in any region of the advanced biofuels or specialty chemicals space.  For more information, contact Courtney Breckenridge, (618) 659-6737 ext. 230,, or visit

About SIUE
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) is a nationally recognized university dedicated to educating and developing professional and community leaders through its excellent faculty and academic programs. With a student-to-teacher ratio of 17-to-1, SIUE offers the advantages of a small, liberal arts college with the lowest tuition of all 12 state universities in Illinois. The emphasis on undergraduate education, complemented by faculty research, creates practical applications for student learning. In fall 2011, SIUE reached the largest overall enrollment in the history of the University with 14,235 students. In fiscal year 2011, SIUE faculty and staff received more than $34 million in grants and contracts for research, teaching and service initiatives. Only 25 minutes from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River's rich bottom land. SIUE has been shaping the future in the St. Louis Metro Area since 1957, offering quality undergraduate and graduate programs combined with a solid commitment to the economic development of Southwestern Illinois.

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