Bio-Based Chemicals Project

 

Project Overview

icon-natureThe Bio-Based Chemicals Project fits into the iSEE research theme of Secure and Sustainable Agriculture.

 

This project, led by D.K. Lee and Lisa Ainsworth, is part of a multi-institution effort titled “FMRG: Manufacturing ADvanced Electronics through Printing Using Bio-based and Locally Identified Chemicals (MADE-PUBLIC).”

The University of Illinois team will work to increase extraction and production efficiency of plant-based compounds to make inks and their chemical precursors. Illinois researchers will grow and provide a range of feedstock materials with different cell wall compositions and test hydroponic conditions (from delivery of nutrients to environmental conditions) to maximize growth and cell wall composition of genetically engineered model species. 


Project News

During the past year the MADE-PUBLIC team reports the following.

    • The Illinois team of Lisa Ainsworth and D.K. Lee, along with Stuart Rowan of UChicago and Argonne National Lab, just started in on the project in January 2021. They will be working toward the efficient production of plant-based compounds for inks by optimizing the biofeedstock for compound extraction, and tuning cellulose and lignin extraction and conversion.
    • That team is partnering with the University of North Texas for Brachypodium grown and biochemical analysis, Ernst Seeds for plant seeds, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Products Laboratory for converting lignin to graphene.
    • The overall project has begun to develop an External Advisory Committee of scientists representing the five thrusts of the project as well as various stakeholder communities.

The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) was instrumental in helping a University of Illinois team land a $1.4 million subaward for new National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research titled “FMRG: Manufacturing ADvanced Electronics through Printing Using Bio-based and Locally Identified Chemicals (MADE-PUBLIC)” and led by the University of Chicago.

The U of I team, led by PI D.K. Lee, a Professor of Crop Sciences, and Co-PI Lisa Ainsworth, a Research Molecular Biologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service Global Change and Photosynthesis Research in Urbana, Ill., will examine how best to extract and produce plant-based compounds from feedstocks to be used to make inks. The goal of their research is to optimize plant growth and biochemical composition for optimized isolation of cellulose nanomaterials and derivate products that can subsequently be used for production of printable inks. 

The total NSF award was for $6.15M, and NSF says the goal of the project is “to enable a manufacturing supply chain from precision agriculture/hydroponics to advanced biodegradable and recyclable electronics. The project will lead to major science advances in three domains: precision growth of plants; manufacturing of tailored bio-based inks; and sustainable production of printable electronics.

“As a convergent research program, the project will further lead to value-added transferrable and scalable scientific advancements, including novel artificial intelligence/machine learning algorithms for manufacturing, a framework for designing sustainable and systematically optimized manufacturing processes, and techniques for incorporating heterogeneous data into manufacturing data systems while automatically refining the models. Learned models will correlate plant phenotypes and growth conditions with cellulose and lignin extraction, connect ink formulation with desired ink properties, and associate printing parameters with electronic device performance and quality.”

View the University of Chicago news release >>>

A fuller description of the grant on the NSF website >>>


The Team

University of Illinois Principal Investigator (PI) and co-PI

  • Lisa Ainsworth (PI), Research Molecular Biologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service Global Change and Photosynthesis Research in Urbana, Ill.
    USDA ARS page >>>
  • D.K. Lee (Co-PI), Professor of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Departmental page >>>
    Lab page >>>

Illinois Operating Team (Postdocs, Technicians, Students)

  • Shuai Li, Postdoctoral Researcher, Ainsworth Lab
  • Eric Kinkelaar, Field Research Technician in Crop Sciences

Partner Institution PIs, Co-PIs, and personnel


Publications & Presentations

(iSEE project members’ names in bold):

  • Coming soon!
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