Corvallis Science Pub to focus on biofuels


CORVALLIS, Ore. – In the search for new local energy sources, a young Corvallis company is betting on two of the Willamette Valley’s most abundant crops – wheat and ryegrass.

At the March 12 Corvallis Science Pub, Chris Beatty, president of Trillium FiberFuels, and Vince Remcho, an Oregon State University chemist, will discuss Trillium’s collaboration with OSU to develop ethanol and other products from agricultural waste products.

The program will begin at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 12, at the Old World Deli, 341 Second St. in Corvallis. It is free and open to the public.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association, the nation produced more than 13 billion gallons of ethanol in 2010, mostly from corn. The 2007 federal energy act set a national target of 36 billion gallons by 2022. Much of the gap is expected to be filled by ethanol from cellulose.

Yeast is typically used to ferment biomass sugars into ethanol. One challenge is that xylose, the second most common sugar, does not ferment. Trillium’s technology uses an enzyme to convert xylose to a form that yeast can ferment.

In their presentation, Beatty and Remcho will discuss the potential for this technology to expand the nation's biofuel industry. In addition, they will outline “some interesting opportunities in the biomass sugar world that have emerged during Trillium's journey,” Beatty said.

Sponsors of Science Pub include Terra magazine at OSU, the Downtown Corvallis Association and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.