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Posts Tagged: innovation

Jeff Smith: Busy as a Bee? No, As Industrious as a Lepidopterist

Busy as a bee?  No, as industrious as a Lepidopterist.  Specifically, as industrious and dedicated as Jeff Smith, curator of the moth and...

Jeff Smith, curator of the Bohart Museum of Entomology's Lepidoptera collection, chats with visitors at an open house. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Jeff Smith, curator of the Bohart Museum of Entomology's Lepidoptera collection, chats with visitors at an open house. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Jeff Smith, curator of the Bohart Museum of Entomology's Lepidoptera collection, chats with visitors at an open house. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Legendary Lepidopterists Paul Opler (left) and Robert Michael Pyle, founder of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, chat during the international Lepidopterist Society’s 68th annual conference (2019) that included visits to the Bohart Museum. Opler, who died last year, considered the Bohart Museum Lepidoptera collection
Legendary Lepidopterists Paul Opler (left) and Robert Michael Pyle, founder of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, chat during the international Lepidopterist Society’s 68th annual conference (2019) that included visits to the Bohart Museum. Opler, who died last year, considered the Bohart Museum Lepidoptera collection "The Bold Standard" of Lep collections. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Legendary Lepidopterists Paul Opler (left) and Robert Michael Pyle, founder of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, chat during the international Lepidopterist Society’s 68th annual conference (2019) that included visits to the Bohart Museum. Opler, who died last year, considered the Bohart Museum Lepidoptera collection "The Bold Standard" of Lep collections. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2024 at 5:39 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Innovation

New project aims to use farm waste to fuel bioeconomy

The BioCircular Valley project will build a publicly accessible database of available feedstocks from forest, farm and food processing byproducts to guide farmers, biomanufacturers and community leaders in the Northern San Joaquin Valley in building up a bioeconomy.

UC ANR to help create database, support technology for sustainable bioproducts and biofuels

In California's Northern San Joaquin Valley, crop leftovers such as almond shells, fruit peels and orchard trimmings can potentially be converted into sustainable bioproducts and biofuels – with the right technology. The philanthropy Schmidt Sciences' Virtual Institute on Feedstocks of the Future, which supports replacing fossil feedstocks with renewable biomass sources, has awarded new funding to a group investigating how to make better use of the diverse agricultural waste in the region.

“This is an important project for California as it quantifies the diverse ‘ingredients' in the North San Joaquin Valley available to fuel the emerging biomanufacturing industry in the state,” said Gabe Youtsey, chief innovation officer for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. “This foundational work will kickstart a completely new innovation bioeconomy in the Central Valley that will create new high-paying jobs for our communities and support a resilient food and agriculture industry through circular biomanufacturing.”

Circular biomanufacturing is a process that uses waste streams as raw materials to create new products.

“Circular means taking waste streams from agriculture such as almond shells or grape pomace, forest waste or food processing waste and using that material as the ‘feedstock' in a fermentation tank to create new bioproducts,” Youtsey explained.

The group, “Building the Circular Bioeconomy in the North San Joaquin Valley” or BioCircular Valley, is co-led by the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), UC Berkeley, and BEAM Circular, with partners at UC Merced, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Almond Board of California and USDA Agricultural Research Station in Albany.

“California has this incredible diversity of materials, but they aren't well understood – and this makes it difficult to know how to extract the most value out of them,” said Corinne Scown, a senior scientist at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley and one of the project leads. “We want to characterize them and make that information available so companies can more easily figure out which feedstock is a good match for them, and then use that agricultural residue to make everything from bio-based polymers and chemicals to sustainable materials and aviation fuels.”

One of the group's goals is to build a publicly accessible database and user-friendly map full of information about different feedstocks, the raw plant materials and biomass that can be broken down and used to make bioproducts. That includes where feedstocks are located, when they are available, how they are currently disposed of, how they perform in different bioreactors, how much sugar or lignin they contain, whether they can be processed with other feedstocks, their greenhouse gas footprint, the potential cost, and much more.

UC ANR's role is to collect data on available feedstocks from forest, agricultural and food processing byproducts, as well as municipal waste streams through sampling and observation.

“We will do this through the extensive knowledge and relationships we have with the California agriculture industry in the North San Joaquin Valley,” Youtsey said. “UC ANR will also support industry outreach as new ‘conversion' technologies are developed, to pilot them with California growers and processors.”

The project will also test ways to improve the flexibility of the conversion process, which breaks down feedstocks to prepare them to make bioproducts. Researchers will apply artificial intelligence to their lab-generated data to improve predictions of how feedstocks can be processed most efficiently or blended together. Being able to use the same technique on different (or mixed) kinds of plant matter would open up ways for companies to make bioproducts more easily.

“Our region has a fantastic combination of diverse and large-scale agricultural activities alongside manufacturing expertise, making this a great place to scale up bioeconomy innovation,” said Karen Warner, CEO of BEAM Circular. “This project will allow us to reduce barriers to using our region's abundant waste streams in more sustainable and valuable ways, so that we can create the products that people need with renewable inputs that are better for the planet.”

The project builds on ongoing efforts to establish biomanufacturing capabilities in the northern San Joaquin Valley, which includes San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties. Providing better data on how to convert the valley's millions of tons of agricultural waste into valuable products may spur biomanufacturing companies to build facilities nearby, minimizing how far the raw materials have to be moved and generating new jobs.

“This project is designed to benefit a region that has massive potential, but so far has been economically left behind, and to develop a new industry that can provide improvements in air quality, water quality and greenhouse gas emissions as well as significant opportunities in economic equity and the creation of new jobs,” said Blake Simmons, director of Berkeley Lab's Biological Systems and Engineering Division and the BioCircular Valley project lead.

“This kind of research started as basic science, and now we're bringing information and solutions to people who can use them. And the knowledge generated through this project will advance not only the ability of the NSJV to make use of its own regionally available future feedstocks, but will also accelerate the understanding of feedstocks relevant across California and across the U.S.”

The new funds for the project come from the Virtual Institute on Feedstocks of the Future, a partnership between Schmidt Sciences and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture that supports collaboration on research to transform biomass into alternative feedstocks for biomanufacturing. The award is one of five announced today, which total $47.3 million over five years. It is expected that the five teams will collaborate to share best practices and knowledge to boost the bioeconomy at the national level.

“We are grateful for Schmidt's generous support that will help deploy advanced technologies on the ground,” said Alicia Chang, interim president of Berkeley Lab Foundation. “The foundational research and expertise developed through work for the Department of Energy sets the stage for this team to apply their capabilities to bring jobs and lift the community and the economy in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.”

Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2024 at 2:38 PM
  • Author: Lauren Biron, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Author: Pamela S Kan-Rice
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Economic Development

Saga of the Spider and the Bee

(Continued from the July 13th Bug Squad) Our resident crab spider, family Thomisidae, appears to be an extremely poor hunter.  She...

The resident crab spider nails a honey bee, as another bee continues to forage in the lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The resident crab spider nails a honey bee, as another bee continues to forage in the lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The resident crab spider nails a honey bee, as another bee continues to forage in the lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A freeloader fly (family Milichiidae, probably genus Desmometopa), invites itself to dinner. No reservations required. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A freeloader fly (family Milichiidae, probably genus Desmometopa), invites itself to dinner. No reservations required. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A freeloader fly (family Milichiidae, probably genus Desmometopa), invites itself to dinner. No reservations required. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

As the resident crab spider eats its prey, another honey bee arrives to forage on the lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
As the resident crab spider eats its prey, another honey bee arrives to forage on the lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

As the resident crab spider eats its prey, another honey bee arrives to forage on the lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Monday, July 15, 2024 at 5:11 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Innovation, Natural Resources, Yard & Garden

The Spider and the Bee

A crab spider,  family Thomisidae, lies motionless in a patch of lavender, waiting to ambush a honey bee.    So here I am,...

A crab spider lies in wait, as a honey bee nectars on a lavender blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A crab spider lies in wait, as a honey bee nectars on a lavender blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A crab spider lies in wait, as a honey bee nectars on a lavender blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The honey bee takes flight, out of reach of the crab spider. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The honey bee takes flight, out of reach of the crab spider. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The honey bee takes flight, out of reach of the crab spider. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

You missed me, Mr. Crab Spider. You missed me. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
You missed me, Mr. Crab Spider. You missed me. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

You missed me, Mr. Crab Spider. You missed me. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, July 12, 2024 at 7:32 PM
Tags: crab spider (0), honey bee (0)
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Innovation, Natural Resources, Yard & Garden

The Secret Life of a Blister Beetle

Blister beetles (family Meloidae) are so named because they emit a poisonous chemical, cantharidin, that can blister your skin. Don't...

A blister beetle (family Meloidae) eating pollen from the Mexican sunflower, Tithonia rotundifola. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A blister beetle (family Meloidae) eating pollen from the Mexican sunflower, Tithonia rotundifola. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A blister beetle (family Meloidae) eating pollen from the Mexican sunflower, Tithonia rotundifola. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, July 11, 2024 at 10:18 AM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Innovation, Natural Resources, Yard & Garden

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