Bio-based Plastics and Hydrocarbon Oils

This Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) project has received funding, over the past ten years and more, from the National Science Foundation, US Department of Energy, Office of Naval Research, and several industrial sponsors.  The project has resulted in the invention and development of a new technology for the production of bioplastics and bio-oil from renewable feedstocks.  Such feedstocks have included food processing by-products and cellulosic biomass.

Objectives include:

  • Finding appropriate catalysts and feedstock hydrolysis techniques,
  • Obtaining useful microbial strains for industrial process conditions,
  • Scaling-up processes for pilot-scale production of bioplastics and bio-oil, and
  • Performing economic evaluation for commercial production.

The primary HNEI contact is Jian Yu.  Results have included numerous publications obtainable from Dr. Yu. Two patents have been granted and one is pending.  For details on this project, see the Bio-Based Plastics and Hydrocarbon Oils pdf document.  Other work of interest can be seen by referring to the Bio-Oils (overview) section of our website.  For further information on researchers and other HNEI research activities related to these efforts, see the BiomassBio-Renewable Resources, and Biotechnology research sections of our website.

Biocarbons (Charcoal)

This is a long standing Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) project that has been funded by the National Science Foundation, US Department of Energy, Office of Naval Research, and the University of Hawai‘i.  The project has resulted in invention of a new technology (called the Flash Carbonization™ process) for producing biocarbons or charcoal.  Objectives include scaling-up the process for commercial operations and expanding markets for biocarbons.  Feedstocks for the process that have been successfully utilized include woods, agricultural by-products, moist green wastes, various invasive species, and even sewage sludge.

The primary HNEI contact is Michael J. Antal, Jr.  Patents granted to the process have been licensed to Kingsford Products Company and other companies.

For details about this project, see the Biocarbons (Charcoal) pdf document and Biocarbons (overview) section of our website.  More facts about biocarbons and related research can be seen in the Renewable Resources Research Activities section.  For additional information on related HNEI research activities, see the BiomassBio-Renewable Resources and Biotechnology research areas of our website.

Bio-Oils (overview)

The production of bio-oils is being researched in the following two different ways.  First, there is the extraction of bio-oils from a variety of biomass materials, using a special production process.  See the poster pdf document -- Bio-Oil Extraction from Biomass – for details on the bio-oil extraction process.

The second method of yielding bio-oils involves the biological conversion of renewable feedstocks to produce bioplastics and bio-oil.  For further details on this process see the BIoplastics (overview) and  Bioplastics and Bio-Oil sections of our website.  

The primary contact for these efforts is HNEI Associate Researcher, Jian Yu.  For further information on the  researchers and general subjects of bio-renewable resources and biotechnology, see the Bio-Renewable Resources and Biotechnology sections of our website.

Algal Systems (overview)

Biotechnology researchers at HNEI have been involved in research and development activities that address the use of algae and microalgae.  Specific areas of interest include: 1) screening of compounds from marine algae that inhibit biofilm formation by marine bacteria, and 2) bio-oil extraction from biomass sources, with attention to microalgae.

For additional general information on HNEI biotechnology researchers and activities, see the Biotechnology section of our website. See a poster pdf document -- Bio-Oil Extraction from Biomass – for details on the bio-oil extraction process. For other research work concerning bio-oils, see the Bio-Oils (overview) section of our website.

Bio-Renewable Resources

The Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) has been involved in research and development activities dealing with bio-renewable resources for many years.  General areas of interest include:

  • Creating a knowledge base on biomass resources and improving bioenergy-related decision making and development.
  • Converting biomass into fuels, high value chemicals, and other products.
  • Utilizing waste materials from chemical and wastewater treatment plants for production of bioplastics, bio-oils and biocarbons.
  • Developing processes and unit operations for producing and improving biofuels.
  • Producing bio-fuel cells.

Specific research areas are contained within the following seven items.  Clicking on each of these will provide details on the types of activities involved.

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