Researchers Win Energy Innovation Research Funding | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

Researchers Win Energy Innovation Research Funding

  • Dhekney, Scwarz, Kairo hempPRINCESS ANNE, MD – (April 7, 2020) – Dr. Jurgen Schwarz, chair of the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Resource Sciences and Dr. Sadanand Dhekney, associate professor of plant breeding and biotechnology, are recipients of a one-year, $50,000 Energy Innovation Seed Grant awarded by the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute. The institute, which is housed at the University of Maryland College Park provides researchers a platform to catalyze basic research into new technology while stimulating economic growth and improving millions of lives across the state of Maryland. “Utilizing Industrial Hemp Biomass for High Throughput Biofuel Production in Maryland” is the focus of the successful project, which is one of six diverse proposals funded throughout the University System of Maryland.

    The University of Maryland Eastern Shore researchers along with Dr. Daehwan Kim, assistant professor of biology at Hood College, and Robert Kozak, president of Atlantic Biomass Conversions, have partnered with the renewable energy sector to study the potential for conversion of industrial hemp biomass into bioethanol and to scale up the process to an industrial level.

    The versatility of industrial hemp, combined with a rapid expansion of available acreage offers U.S. and Maryland producers and processors an opportunity to maximize their returns from the crop. Its biomass exhibits a higher conversion of fermentable sugars when compared to traditional biofuel crops such as switchgrass and Miscanthus and shows great promise of being converted into biofuel. Thus, the crop provides an opportunity for producers to gain additional income from biomass that is otherwise considered a waste by-product of processing.

    The research will comprise experiments at three sites to develop prototypes, which will then be scaled to an industrial level. The researchers believe these efforts will pave the way for processors to enhance their ability to generate value-added products. In addition, they believe the development of technology that identifies hemp cultivars with high biomass production and its efficient conversion into biofuel can lead to a greater investment from producers, processors and the renewable energy sector and thus lead to the establishment of another sector and generation of gainful employment in Maryland. 

    For more information about the “Utilizing Industrial Hemp Biomass for High Throughput Biofuel Production in Maryland,” contact Schwarz (jgschwarz@umes.edu) or Dhekney (sdhekney@umes.edu) at 410-651-6168.

    Pictured above, from left, Drs. Sadanand Dhekney and Jurgen Schwarz are pictured in Annapolis during UMES Day in Annapolis where they shared information with Maryland legislators on industrial hemp.



    Suzanne Waters Street, agricultural communications specialist, School of Agricultural & Natural Sciences, 410-621-3850, sstreet@umes.edu