Over 20 representatives from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) and the McKnight Foundation visited the AURI Co-products laboratory in Waseca on December 15th to learn about value-added agricultural opportunities taking place in southern Minnesota.
AURI was awarded a grant from SMIF earlier this year and AURI Senior Director of Innovation, Jen Wagner-Lahr, explained how the grant is being used. The first project was a study looking at opportunities and challenges for Minnesota businesses in regards to biobased materials. This information was turned into a report (available on www.auri.org) and from there a thought leaders’ panel was convened.
An industry-wide event was held in August. Currently AURI is working with event attendees on over seven different biobased product initiatives that evolved from the event.
A second opportunity that AURI is working on is in the area of renewable energy; looking at ways to replace traditional fuels, such as fuel oil and propane, with biomass. A feasibility guide is expected to be released in March and it will be especially beneficial to livestock producers and greenhouse operators as it will explain what they need to know to implement and utilize biomass technology ranging from economics to physical forms of biomass that can be utilized within different combustion technologies. AURI is available for technical assistance in both of these areas.
Wagner-Lahr, along with Coproduct Scientist Al Doering, shared hands-on examples of products and successful projects in the food, renewable energy, coproduct utilization and biobased product sectors.