26, No. 2, July 20, 2006
Grant to fund bioprocessing
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
photo to enlarge
by L. Brian Stauffer
fuels HansPeter Blaschek, assistant dean in the
Office of Research in the College of Agricultural,
Consumer and Environmental Sciences, is coordinating
development of the Integrated Bioprocessing Research
Laboratory, a state-of-the art facility focused
on the conversion of renewable feed stocks into
biofuels. The facility also will be a test case
for eco-friendly construction techniques.
The UI will receive a grant
of $3.2 million from the state of Illinois to plan and design the Integrated
Bioprocessing Research Laboratory at the UI’s Urbana campus.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced June 28 that funds would be allocated for planning
the facility through the Opportunity Returns program, an economic development
program to spur job growth throughout Illinois by pairing companies and communities.
In a news release announcing the grant, Blagojevich said: “Post-harvest
research is critical to growing the agricultural economy and creating more jobs
in Illinois. This state-of-the-art facility will encourage even more research
discoveries and the education of future generations that will help Illinois’ food
and agriculture industries thrive and put more people to work.”
Hans-Peter Blaschek, a professor of food microbiology, is coordinating development
of the laboratory. Blaschek also is assistant dean in the Office of Research
for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, and is
a faculty member in the department of food science and human nutrition and in
the Institute for Genomic Biology.
The 60,000-square-foot facility will support multistage processing that converts
soybeans, corn and other grains, lignocellulosic-based co-products and food processing
byproducts into new and improved feeds, foods, energy sources, industrial feed
stocks and chemicals. The multi-disciplinary facility will focus on the chemical,
physical and biological conversion of renewable feed stocks into biofuels and
will provide opportunities for developing new production processes for biofuels,
industrial chemicals and nutraceuticals.
Often referred to as phytochemicals or functional foods, nutraceuticals are natural,
bioactive chemical compounds that promote health, prevent disease or have medicinal
The United States is increasing use of biobased materials and bioenergy, and
corn and soybeans could serve as the plant technology platforms for a new biobased
economy, said David Chicoine, UI vice president for technology and economic development.
The new laboratory also presents the opportunity to make the state of Illinois,
already one of the largest producers of corn and soybeans, a leader of a new
bio-based economy by building upon earlier discoveries and creating jobs and
“The time is ripe for development of a unique bioprocessing facility since
the chemical industry is expected to transition from petroleum-based processes
to bio-based technology,” Blaschek said. “The IBRL will allow translational
research to be carried out from the laboratory bench to the pilot-scale level
in anticipation of commercialization.”
Robert Easter, dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental
Sciences, and Blaschek have talked with officials at Archer Daniels Midland Co.
in Decatur and other agricultural companies about joining the UI in the IBRL.
ADM is one of the world’s largest processors of corn, soybeans, wheat and
The IBRL also will be a “green building” with energy efficient and
environmentally friendly design features. The IBRL, along with a Workforce Development
Center at Heartland Community College in Bloomington, Ill., will be one of at
least three state construction projects that will be used for case studies of
green building materials and techniques.
The facility is expected to cost about $20 million and construction may begin
later this fiscal year or in FY2008, once funding is secured and a site is selected.
The planning and design work will provide for site improvements, including extending
utilities and roadways.
The facility is part of the first phase of a six-phase plan to modernize the
South Farms, which began in September 2003 with the groundbreaking for the new
beef and sheep complex, a $10 million complex of livestock barns, offices and
facilities for mixing feed and storing machinery that was constructed near the
intersection of Race Street and Old Church Road between Urbana and Savoy.
Like the new beef and sheep facilities, which opened in 2004, the IBRL will replace
outdated facilities and will accommodate the technologies needed for research.
The modernization plans for the South Farms also include construction of
facilities for swine and horses, an 82,000-square-foot Natural Resources Facility
that will support research and education on vegetable and fruit crops as well
as forestry and natural systems, and a Crops Complex that will serve as headquarters
for the Crops Section and house the UI Plant Diagnostic Clinic.
Historic Lincoln Hall receives funding for planning much-needed renovations
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
photo to enlarge
Officials from the UI,
the Illinois Legislature and the state’s Capital
Development Board recently announced that the state was giving the university
$3 million to begin planning renovations to historic Lincoln Hall on the Urbana
campus. UI President B. Joseph White; Jan Grimes, executive director of the
Capital Development Board; state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson; and Sarah Mangelsdorf,
the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Urbana, made the
announcement July 7 on the east steps of Lincoln Hall.
Built in 1911, Lincoln Hall has not had any significant refurbishments since
the west half of the building and the theater were constructed in 1930, although
the building is one of the most used instructional buildings on campus.
The renovations will include upgrades to the building’s electrical, lighting,
heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and computer network systems in addition
to new flooring, ceilings and wall finishes. The building’s interior
will be reconfigured to optimize instructional space, which will be concentrated
on the first two floors and the backstage area of the theater. The backstage
area has been unused for 25 years since the theater department relocated to
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The top two floors will be used primarily
for offices for faculty members.
Although the remodeling will be significant, the speakers offered assurances
that Lincoln Hall’s historic character would be preserved.
In a news release from Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s office, UI Chancellor Richard
Herman said: “Lincoln Hall has played a major role in the academic lives
of our students for almost 100 years. It is home to a number of core disciplines,
and its classroom space is frequented by our students more than any other place
on campus. Refitting Lincoln Hall to better serve the changing needs of current
and future students recognizes its place in our history, as well as its future
role in establishing the state’s flagship campus as pre-eminent among
public institutions in the nation.”
The UI sought state appropriations to renovate the aging building in its annual
budget requests to the state in recent years, but the state did not approve
appropriations for any new capital projects because of the state’s ongoing
White said that the state’s decision to release the funds was “really
personal with me because I’ve fallen in love with Lincoln Hall.”
The improvements to Lincoln Hall are expected to cost about $55.8 million.
When asked how the university would obtain the remaining funds, White said
the university wouldn’t begin the project until it had the financing
available or had identified a source of funds. He said he did not anticipate
implementing special tuition increases to pay for the renovations.
However, the renovations could be among the projects funded in part by the
Academic Facilities Maintenance Fund Assessment, a fee that all new UI students
will begin paying this fall to help address the university’s $617 million
backlog of deferred maintenance projects.
“I’d love to begin the renovations of this building in 2008 and get
them done in two years,” White said, but added that the university would
first have to find the funding to make that happen.
This month, the university is expected to select a design firm for the Lincoln
Hall remodeling project. The Capital Development Board, which manages all construction,
renovation and repair projects for the state, will oversee the project.