NCERC at SIUE Creates Future Leaders of Future Fuels

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NCERC Future LeadersThe National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has launched a new initiative “Future Leaders of Future Fuels,” focused on developing its own employees’ knowledge of the biofuels industry.

The Future Leaders group consists of Scientific Analysts Rachel Carpio and Kaitlin Lasseigne, Operations Manager Jared Burns, Assistant Research Engineer Kyle Sonderman, Policy and Business Development Specialist Aimee Dillenberger, Research Fellow Brad Smith, and Communications and Outreach Specialist Claire Weinzierl.

“The future of biofuels in America and around the world is very strong,” said NCERC Executive Director John Caupert. “In the future of biofuels, a key strength is the people working in the area of process improvement, as well as product discovery. NCERC has launched a ‘Future Leaders of Future Fuels’ program, created to enhance the capabilities and strengths of such people working in biofuels.”

The Future Leaders have been tasked with three projects to complete in the coming months including a corn ethanol trial, redesigning the NCERC display case in the lobby, and developing an Ethanol 101 presentation for future training purposes. The three projects are expected to be completely led and performed by the group, with only occasional guidance by supervisors when needed.

“These NCERC employees’ backgrounds range from biology to biological sciences, from chemistry to communications, from process operations to public policy, and from maintenance to mechanical engineering,” Caupert said. “While Aimee, Brad, Claire, Jared, Kaitlin, Kyle and Rachel are in the early years of their careers, they are the leaders of the future for biofuels and beyond. I’m extremely proud of the camaraderie, effort and teamwork I’ve witnessed. First hand, I’ve watched this group learn together while working together. The future of fuels knows no limits due to the attitude and innovation of these Future Leaders.”

The Future Leaders recently conducted their corn ethanol trial using the 150-liter fermenter in the Fermentation Suite. The objective of the project was to ferment 100 liters of #2 corn flour.

“Being a part of Future Leaders has me excited for the future of ethanol and other biorenewables,” Dillenberger said. “I am excited to learn even more about the ethanol industry and how we can work together toward a more sustainable future.”

The fermentation project ran over the course of seven days, providing the Future Leaders with hands-on experience operating a bioprocessing facility. The team was encouraged to observe and learn how to set up a fermentation project, run an operation in the Fermentation Suite, and collect samples for fermentation trials. Lab quality control and analytical testing for liquefaction and fermentation were also incorporated into the training.

“The biofuels industry is constantly evolving and presenting new challenges,” Burns said. “So, as the industry continues to grow, it is important for NCERC to perfect its fermentation and distillation methods through trials such as this one in order to provide the best possible data for our clients.”

The fermentation was performed using Ethanol Red yeast strain in order to convert the fermentable sugars into ethanol. The fermentation beer was distilled and the remaining material was dried.

“Being a part of Future Leaders has led me to take on a new sense of confidence in myself as a scientist and has also allowed a new side of me to grow by having the freedom to be a leader,” said Carpio. “It has taught me the importance of teamwork and the importance of inclusiveness on a team. We all have our different backgrounds and strengths, but this has allowed us to design and complete a goal together. I am looking forward to being a part of many more Future Leader trials.”

About The NCERC
The NCERC is a nationally recognized research center dedicated to the development and commercialization of biofuels, specialty chemicals and other renewable compounds. The NCERC’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 Claire Weinzierl at cweinzierl@ethanolresearch.com, or visit www.ethanolresearch.com.

Photo (L-R): Back row – Research Fellow Brad Smith, Operations Manager Jared Burns and Assistant Research Engineer Kyle Sonderman.

Front row – Policy and Business Development Specialist Aimee Dillenberger, Scientific Analyst Rachel Carpio, Scientific Analyst Kaitlin Lasseigne, Communications and Outreach Specialist Claire Weinzierl, and NCERC Executive Director John Caupert.

Author: Admin