The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has opened a comprehensive research facility to accommodate faculty and industry initiatives through the new Center for Renewable Carbon (CRC).

The new Bioenergy Science and Technology Laboratory is expected to enhance America’s emerging biobased economy through advances in bioenergy and biofuel production economies as well as the development of new chemicals and materials from renewable carbon (biomass) sources. 

UT President Joe DiPietro, UTIA Interim Chancellor Buddy Mitchell, and CRC Director Tim Rials, as well as other UT officials and representatives from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and state and local government were on hand for a ribbon-cutting and tour of the new facilities on Feb. 4. Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson and Peter Muller, a representative from PerkinElmer, Inc., a partner in the instrumentation of the CRC, were also in attendance to celebrate the ribbon cutting. 

DiPietro called the CRC and its work the next step in the advancement of a biobased economy. The new CRC Bioenergy Science and Technology Laboratory includes specialized facilities for biomass pre-processing and processing measurement, biomass characterization, and biomass conversion to fuels and potentially useful coproducts like adhesives and carbon fiber. Additional CRC research capabilities include life cycle analysis and a biomass fractionation reactor.

“I am excited by the potential for expanded research and collaboration within the University of Tennessee and for partnerships outside the university,” DiPietro said. “Through the Center for Renewable Carbon and these new labs, the University of Tennessee has an even greater means to impact the state and our nation by solving our need for carbon-based fuel as well as developing new, environmentally sound carbon-based products.”