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Extramural Research

Grantee Research Project Results

Grantee Research Project Results

Extracting Lignocellulose and Synthesizing Silica Nanoparticles from Rice Husks

EPA Grant Number: SU835084
Title: Extracting Lignocellulose and Synthesizing Silica Nanoparticles from Rice Husks
Investigators: Sun, Luyi , Wang, Weixing
Institution: Texas State University , South China University of Technology , Texas Tech University
EPA Project Officer: Lank, Gregory
Project Period: August 15, 2011 through August 14, 2012
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2011)
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemistry



The goal of the proposed research is to convert an agricultural byproduct, rice husks (RHs), to two value-added products: lignocellulose and silica nanoparticles.


The annual global production of RHs is ca. 160 million tons. RHs are often burnt in open field, generating serious pollution issues. RHs are mainly composed of lignocellulose (ca. 85 wt%) and hydrated silica (ca. 15 wt%). We aim to develop an effective approach to first separate lignocellulose from RHs by dissolving it in ionic liquids. The dissolved lignocellulose will be subsequently separated and used as a starting material for fabric products, biofuel, etc. The remaining product after extraction which contains a high concentration of hydrated silica will be thermally treated to synthesize silica nanoparticles. The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between faculty and students in the Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Dept. of Chemical Engineering. Chemistry students will focus on fundamental aspects, while Chemical Engineering students will focus on process design and scale-up.

Expected Results:

At the end of this project, we will have the demonstration package including lignocellulose fibers and silica nanoparticles (with microscope images), and a chart illustrating the optimized process. We will also submit a conference abstract and a journal manuscript for national dissemination.

Supplemental Keywords:

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

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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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