WCROC wind turbines.

2018 Research Highlights: Sustainable Energy

In addition to discovering novel forms of bioenergy, research on sustainable energy is providing a better understanding of how we can use renewable energy sources and technologies in ways that are both economically and environmentally friendly. 2018 highlights include: 

  • Terpolymers of L-Lactic Acid, Delta Valero lactone and Organosolve lignin were successfully polymerized in ring-opening polymerization reactions, resulting in lignin-containing polymers with good flexibility, decreased UV transmission and low water transition rate.
  • Researchers provided genome sequences and transcriptional profiles of two green algae to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  • Researchers developed a chemical method to extract phytate as a valuable chemical from corn ethanol co-products. The team is receiving inquiries from companies all around the world that are interested in licensing this innovation.
  • A study looked for ways to help swine producers decrease their environmental footprint, and found that heat lamps in breed-to-wean barns and ventilation systems across all three phases of pork production were the most significant users of energy. Focusing on improving efficiency of these electrical loads should provide producers with opportunities to improve their environmental footprint and also increase profitability.
  • A study of the potential of microalgae (MAE) as pig feed found that pigs fed one percent, five percent or 10 percent MAE diets weighed 2.6 to 3.3 pounds more than pigs fed the control diet at the end of the nursery period. Additionally, mortality in pigs fed MAE was lower. This study shows the potential of MAE diets to support growth and health of nursery pigs but more research is needed to identify ideal microalgae species and microalgae co-products.
  • New solar panels installed at the West Central Research and Outreach Center at Morris serve a duel-purpose. While power generation is the solar panels' main purpose, they were strategically placed 8 to 10-feet above ground surface in order to provide shade for 30 to 40 cows at each of two structures. With the addition of these panels, the dairy is at 80 percent of its goal to be a net-zero operation.

In fiscal year 2018, MAES supported research related to sustainable energy was connected to:

14 Projects
14 Principal Investigators
Patent Issued
5 Patents Filed
28 Peer-Reviewed Journals