August 28, 2016


Center for Biorefining awarded USDA-NIFA CAP and industry grants to develop technologies for non-thermal pasteurization of powdered foods

Powdered foods such as milk powder, egg powder, spices, etc., are widely used as ingredients in manufacturing processed foods or consumed directly by humans and animals for their energy and nutrient contents. Inappropriate and insufficient decontamination have led to numerous outbreaks of foodborne diseases in recent years. Different physical and chemical processes have been used to decontaminate powdered foods. However, these processes have various defects, making their application ineffective and sometime impractical. A UMN team led be Dr. Roger Ruan was awarded $3.6 million to develop and demonstrate technology for non-thermal pasteurization of powdered foods.  This Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) project, integrating research with extension activities, addresses the program area “Enhancing Food Safety through Improved Processing Technologies” by developing an intense pulsed light (IPL) based technology for non-thermal pasteurization of powdered foods. IPL is an emerging technology for overcoming these defects. In this project, a continuous IPL process will be investigated for its germicidal effectiveness and also its impacts on physical, chemical, nutritional, and sensory properties of representative powdered foods. A prototype IPL system will be designed and constructed through the consultations with industry partners and stakeholders. The research activities on the system will cover process optimization in lab and the field trials with industry partners, while the extension activities will include workshops to demonstrate its usage to the stakeholders.

In a separate project funded by a major powdered food manufacturer, Dr. Ruan and his co-workers are developing non-thermal plasma based technology to pasteurize milk powder.

Several research position openings are available. Please click here for information and to apply.

CFANS Solutions Magazine reports Drs. Ruan and Chen’s research on food engineering

“American consumers are tough customers. Not only do we want our food healthy and safe but we want it to be minimally processed as well as long-lasting. It can be difficult to achieve the twin goals of food stability and freshness but faculty members in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering are engaged in several projects to make food safer and more nutritious.” …… Read More

Bioenergy and Food Projects awarded to Center for Biorefining


The Center recently received funding for several projects aimed to boost research and development efforts to utilize wastes and residues for production of bioenergy and healthy food products:

  1. $1,000,000 from LCCMR to demonstrate innovative technologies for complete utilization of wastewater resources. The technologies involve microalgae biomass production, scum-biodiesel, and sludge conversion.
  2. $125,910 from MNDrive for developing a unique non-thermal processing platform to improve nutritional value and microbial safety of food products.
  3. $150,000  from MNDrive to support three collaborative projects to creating added value from Minnesota food and agricultural waste streams by recycling nutrients through microalgae production, thermochemical conversion, and ammonia production.
  4. $125,000 from Sun Grants and IREE for development of novel fast pyrolysis and gasification processes
  5. $184,366 from  Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station for conversion of turkey wastes to energy via fast pyrolysis and gasification
  6. $378,833 from Sun Grants to develop processes for distributed production of DME based fuels using microwave technology and direct catalytic synthesis
  7. $250,000 from Minnesota Corn Growers Association and IREE for non-thermal plasma assisted synthesis of ammonia from renewable hydrogen.

LCCMR Metro Site Visit to the Center Research Facilities


On July 29, 2014, LCCMR members and staff visited our research facilities at UMore Park, Rosemount, MN. Center director Prof. Ruan briefed the group on the progress and accomplishments of the past the current LCCMR funded projects. The group later toured the facilities including an outdoor algae production facility and a mobile microwave assisted pyrolysis system, and interacted with Prof. Ruan’s team members.Several industrial partners from Minnesga and enVerde were present. To read more and view the pictures, please click >>> HERE.

Center for Biorefining Tour a Huge Success


On August 22, 2013, the UMN Center for Biorefining led a specialized tour of the Algae and Pyrolysis Facilities at UMN Rosemount Research and Outreach Center. This tour brought together a diverse group of participants, including Minnesota State LCCMR staff, renewable energy professionals, biofuel entrepreneurs, UMN faculty and students, and various bloggers. In addition to having multiple opportunities to converse with Center for Biorefining faculty members, researchers, and students, attendees were also able to learn about the UMN’s mobile microwave assisted pyrolysis (MAP) system and view the 20,000 liter animal-wastewater-to-algae production facility in operation. Research posters, published papers and various fuel and polymer products dealing with related research were also presented to attendees.

The research activities and facilities were funded by grants and gifts from LCCMR, IREE, MCES, 3M, USDA, USDOD, DOE, DOT, Sun Grant, and private companies. The tour was supported by the UMN Rosemount Research and Outreach Center and staff.

(Click the photos to enlarge)

Rosemount-tour-webDemonstration facilities, products, and posters.

 Rosemount-tour4-web Tour participants.

 Rosemount-tour3-webTour participants.

 Rosemount-tour2-webTour participants.


Members of the Center for Biorefining

Center for Biorefining co-sponsors 2012 Sino-US Symposium on Eco-agriculture and Biomass Energy Industry

Center for Biorefining is hosting the Renewable Energy Session of the “2012 Sino-US Symposium on Eco-agriculture and Biomass Energy Industry”. The participants are mainly from faculty members of 12 Chinese universities. They will spend several days in California where they will attend the Eco-agriculture session and visit several CA universities. The delegation will spend three days in the Twin Cities. The Renewable Energy Session will feature speakers from IREE, BBE, AE, and local company on topics ranging from overview of renewable energy R&D at UMN, production and logistics of cellulosic and algal biomass, biomass conversion, biofuel production, wastes management and utilization, and techno-economic analysis and life cycle analysis of renewable energy. A copy of the symposium agenda can be downloaded from here.

Mass Culture of Microalgae for Biofuels

The Center for Biorefining received $2 million funding from LCCMR, MN DOC, MCES, and IREE to support research on developing transferable technologies for mass culture of microalgae utilizing nutrients from wastewater and carbon source from flue gas for biofuel production. Harvested algae will be used as a biomass feedstock for biodiesel and other renewable energy production.  The specific objectives of the project are to (1) test and develop photobioreactors (PBR), (2) study the growth characteristics of some collected algae strains, (3) evaluate and develop harvest and oil extract processes.  Several PBRs were developed and studied. More than 30 strains were screened, and some of them were found to grow well on wastewater. A simple harvest technique was also developed. Production of high oil content microalgae for biodiesel fuel, coupled with wastewater treatment and flue gas emission control, provides significant environmental benefits and improves the economic feasibility of the whole approach.