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Grantee Research Project Results

Grantee Research Project Results

Valuable Chemicals from Rice Husk Biomass

EPA Grant Number: SU835292
Title: Valuable Chemicals from Rice Husk Biomass
Investigators: Sun, Luyi , Wang, Weixing
Institution: Southwest Texas State University , South China University of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 15, 2012 through August 14, 2014
Project Amount: $90,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2012)
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemistry



During Phase I research, we achieved our goal to extract lignocellulose from rice husk (RH) biomass, and synthesized high purity, high surface area silica nanoparticles and porous silica frameworks from RHs.

Our objective for Phase II research is three-fold: (1) further optimize the process developed during Phase I research to increase efficiency and lower cost; (2) advance Phase I research to explore new sustainability related applications based on Phase I results; (3) launch a green business based on our technology developed in Phases I and II.


Overall, the strategy of Phase II project is both an extension and an advancement of Phase I project. The extension lies in the optimization of the lignocellulose extraction process to both increase efficiency and lower cost, and the systematic investigation to pinpoint the exact conditions to obtain porous silica frameworks with specific pore sizes (e.g., 20, 40, 60 80 nm, etc.) for designated industrial applications. Meanwhile, we aim to advance our work conducted in Phase I to develop new sustainability related applications, including (A) synthesizing bio-surfactants using the lignocellulose from RHS, which can help form gas hydrates with high capacity and formation rate; and (B) preparing solar grade silicon from the silica nanoparticles for solar cell applications. Both gas (such as methane, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide) hydrates and solar cells are expected to bring significant sustainability benefits.

Expected Results:

We expect to improve lignocellulose extraction rate up to 70%, and ionic liquid recycle rate up to 98%. We also aim to achieve a high methane storage capacity up to 180 v/v when using bio-surfactants synthesized from RH lignocellulose, and to synthesize high purity polycrystalline silicon up to 99.99% in purity.

The ultimate goal of Phase II project is to commercialize our RH based green technology. We will develop novel technology, and conduct process optimization, process simulation, and economic evaluation. With the help of our partners, we aim to launch a green business based on our technology to benefit more people and better protect our environment.

Supplemental Keywords:

bio-based feed stocks, green chemistry, environmentally benign substitute, biotechnology, waste to value, agricultural byproducts

Relevant Websites:

Phase I abstract

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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