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South Dakota State University Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Projects Use Cutting-Edge Science to Feed and Fuel the Future

Submitted by on April 25, 2017 – 7:24 pmNo Comment

(Farm Forum)  … Through Senior Capstone Design projects, the senior engineering students partner with innovators in the ag industry using the latest technology. The experience provides an opportunity to work on projects that will impact agriculture for future generations.

The designs and work involved in these projects will be showcased at the SDSU Engineering Expo Design Competition April 28 at the Swiftel Center in Brooking from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The public is invited to the Expo to learn from the students.

“The Expo promotes the technologies and creates interest in entrepreneurship. It allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and provide recognition for their efforts,” Ag and Biosystems Engineering Instructor Douglas Prairie said.

Netwrap and twine densification

Turning netwrap and twine intermingled with corn stalks, tree branches and chunks of debris into an efficient fuel source is the challenge presented to one group. The team of three Senior Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering students tapped their brainpower as they searched for a way to efficiently process the waste materials into a useable fuel used at POET-DSM’s cellulosic ethanol plant at Emmetsburg, Iowa.

This is the Capstone project chosen by Cody Myers of Columbus, Neb.; Colin LeBrun of Dell Rapids, S.D. and Grant Bose of Slayton, Minn. They developed a less energy-intensive process which increases reliability and decreases cost associated with converting corn stover to biofuels. The process needs to break down the waste material into a form so it can feed the solid fuel boiler system year-round.

LeBrun was realistic that there were issues that didn’t always work out. “But we’ve had some success,” he said. “Netwrap is a very hard material to deal with. It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before. You can’t find the flowability of netwrap in a book or go online to figure out how to make this work.” LeBrun recently accepted a full-time job with POET in Sioux Falls after graduation. LeBrun firmly believes his offer was a result of his work on this project.

“This is cutting edge and what I thought I’d be doing as an engineer,” Bose said. “It’s taking a task and finding a solution. A commercial machine isn’t available; we made one we think will work.”  READ MORE

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