Wisconsin researchers work on ways to turn food components into fuel


  • A new finding from Missouri University of Science & Technology researchers about the chemical makeup of two-dimensional materials called MXenes could open new application areas for the materials. MXenes are conductive ceramics that have uses in energy storage and sensing, but limited understanding of their chemical properties has prevented more widespread use thus far.
  • A specific class of fatty acids — components naturally found in foods like leafy greens and fish — could serve as a biofuel alternative for petroleum products, and Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers discovered a way to produce those fatty acids in bacteria and plant cells. The next step is to train cells to produce more of the fatty acids.

🌽 BIOFUEL: Green Plains in Nebraska and Badger State Ethanol in Wisconsin are two biofuel companies highlighted in a Biofuels Digest article that lays out how the ethanol industry has evolved during the global coronvirus pandemic to remain viable, including making hand sanitizer.

🌱 AGRICULTURE: The University of Illinois is among the institutions advancing agricultural innovations — specifically, boosting food crop photosynthesis — to engineer edible plants that are more resistant to increasing global temperatures, Grist reports.

***SPONSORED LINK: The Cleanie Awards — the #1 awards program in clean technology — is now accepting applications! Submit to win, or contact us with any questions. Applications close July 30.***

🥵 ENERGY EFFICIENCY: A United Nations report indicates cooling technologies bear increasing importance in maintaining healthy communities because of climate change, however more energy-efficient cooling technologies are needed to reduce these systems’ negative environmental effects.

🚰 WATER: An Ohio collaboration is launching the Smart Citizen Science Initiative in which citizens volunteer to use low-cost technology — the first wave will be spectrometers — to monitor Lake Erie’s water quality. Residents interested in learning more and participating can sign up for a webinar on Wednesday that will introduce the program.


  • Slater, Iowa-based Gross-Wen Technologies received a $240,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a next-gen technology to remove phosphorus from wastewater, reports Clay and Milk.
  • DOE also awarded a collective $1 million in funding to three projects that will help national laboratories’ computing abilities. Chesterfield, Missouri-based Catalyxx will assist Oak Ridge National Laboratory with scaling ethanol conversion processes, and Madison, Wisconsin-based Pyran will help Oak Ridge to produce predictive models.
  • Applications are due August 3 for Clean Energy Trust’s fall investment cycle. Early-stage startups in the Mid-Continent region that aim to solve environmental challenges are eligible to apply.

📆 VIRTUAL EVENT: The Partners in Ag Innovation Conference will take place virtually on July 30. It will be live-streamed from Minnesota and will include topics such as biofuels and the state of agricultural innovation in Minnesota.

Connect with Centered and the Midwest tech audience. We’re on LinkedIn and Twitter @centereddottech, and send news tips, press releases, and feedback to katie@centered.tech.

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