Undergraduate research: Streamlining biofuel fermentation processes

Erin Cooper examines flask in lab.

Erin Cooper likes making things more efficient. Easier. Faster. Better.

That’s why her REEP research project is perfect for her interests and skillset. She’s working with advisor Dr. Mari Chinn to streamline ethanol fermentation using biomass sorghum as a starting material.

The senior majoring in biological engineering with a concentration in bioprocessing was selected as the 2019 REEP scholar. Her project focuses on combining two processing steps used in current ethanol production: hydrolysis and fermentation. Successful consolidation of these operations can simplify inputs, reduce waste, and lower overall costs.

“The ultimate goal is to define conversion processes suitable for biomass sorghum as the feedstock so limited corn yielding regions like the southeast can participate in renewable energy production efforts,” explains Cooper.

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