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From Science Hall to Capitol Hill

biodieselIt all started with Brian Krohn’s summer research question: is there a better way to make biodiesel?

Brian’s answer to that question has led him from the laboratory to Capitol Hill. With the help of Augsburg faculty and alumni, Brian uncovered a way to produce biodiesel from a wide variety of organic sources, not just crops. The new process also creates biodiesel much faster than existing methods while producing virtually no waste.

“Our process can use any feedstock,” said Brian. “What this does is it makes biodiesel cheaper, and you’re not using a food source — like corn or soybeans — to make a fuel.”

With the concern that biofuels are driving up food prices, it is no surprise that Congress is showing interest in Brian’s research. Last week in Washington D.C., he and chemistry Professor Arlin Gyberg met with US. Sen. Amy Kolbuchar and the staffs of U.S. Reps. James Oberstar, Collin Peterson, and Keith Ellison. Brian and Gyberg also briefed both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.

Mycgyan_tb

The story of Brian’s discovery started with his URGO summer research project into biodiesel. After Brian’s initial research, his project adviser, Professor Gyberg, helped him verify his findings. Then, the two reached out to alumnus Dr. Clayton McNeff, vice president of Sartec corporation. Sartec was able to take Brian and Gyberg’s research discovery and turn it into a full-fledged production system that they named the “Mcgyan Process” after the various scientists involved in the project. Sartec has already made over 50,000 gallons of fuel using the Mycgyan process, and they are building a facility that will be producing 3 million gallons per year by the end of 2008.

Mycgyan_processNot only is Brian a part of a discovery that might change the biofuels industry, he has gotten a lot of attention from local, national, and even international press. What does he think of it all?

“I just thought it would be a fun summer research project,” he said just before his interview with ABC News.

Below is a sample of some of the media coverage Brian’s discovery has garnered:

   ABC News – http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=4746112&page=1

   Pioneer Press – http://www.twincities.com/ci_9088075

   KSTP 5 News – http://kstp.com/article/stories/S371712.shtml?cat=1 (both include video)

http://kstp.com/article/stories/S425806.shtml

   KARE 11 News – http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=501156 (includes video)

   Star Tribune – http://www.startribune.com/16404276.html

http://www.startribune.com/business/16663456.html

   Duluth Budgeteer News – http://www.duluthbudgeteer.com/articles/index.cfm?id=21755&section=homepage

   Green Car Congress – http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/03/researchers-dev.html

   Business Week – http://investing.businessweek.com/

   Automotive World – http://www.automotiveworld.com/AEA/content.asp?contentid=66961

   Biodiesel Magazine – http://www.biodieselmagazine.com/article.jsp?article_id=2231

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