Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

(Photo by Jeff Miler/UW-Madison)


UW-Madison’s biorenewable expertise spans from agricultural and crop sciences through the biological domains to engineering applications of these innovations. This makes for a unique melting pot of ideas particularly suited to bringing game-changing biorenewable innovations to life.



Crop technologies

Biomass treatment and deconstruction

Chemical conversions

Biological conversions


Highlighted technologies:

A Method of Modifying Lignin to Improve Biomass Utilization

Lignin is a complex, heterogeneous polymer found in all vascular plants. It rigidifies plants and plays a crucial role in water transport. However, lignins are effectively indigestible and interfere…
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John Ralph, John Grabber | P100199US02

Extending Juvenile Stage of Plants for Biofuels and Feedstock

Juvenile and adult grass tissue dramatically differs in anatomy, chemistry and ability to withstand stresses. Juvenile plants cannot flower and their leaves are better able to resist cold and drought….
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Shawn Kaeppler, Natalia de Leon Gatti, Jillian Foerster | P120179US02

Grass Modified for Easier Bioprocessing

Manufacturing paper and producing biofuels is difficult because the lignin in plant cell walls is tough to degrade. Current techniques are energy intensive and use harsh chemicals. In the case of biof…
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John Ralph, Curtis Wilkerson, Saunia Withers, John Sedbrook | P120040US02

Inbred Corn Lines for Developing Silage Hybrids

Corn silage is a high quality forage crop used on many dairy and cattle farms. The goal of making silage is to preserve the harvested crop by anaerobic fermentation, where bacteria convert soluble car…
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Natalia de Leon Gatti, James Coors, Dustin Eilert, Patrick Flannery | P090407US01

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Powerful New Enzyme for Transforming Biomass

Converting plant cellulose and hemicellulose into fermentable sugars is a major bottleneck in the biofuel industry. Chemical pretreatment and enzyme hydrolysis (breakdown) usually are required. Amon…
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Brian Fox, Christopher Bianchetti, Taichi Takasuka | P120371US02

Unleashing Biomass Sugars Using Bromine Salt

Methods to produce bioethanol from cornstarch or sugarcane are inadequate to meet the global demand for renewable fuels. To be sustainable, biofuel production should rely on abundant, cheap, inedible …
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Xuejun Pan, Li Shuai | P110209US02

Concentrated C5 and C6 Sugars from Biomass

Widespread production of sustainable fuels and chemicals will require cost-effective methods for breaking down biomass into its constituent sugars. Attaining high yields of concentrated C5 and C6 carb…
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James Dumesic, David Martin Alonso, Jeremy Luterbacher | P140075US01

Enzymatic Depolymerization of Lignin

Lignin is a renewable resource that accounts for up to 30 percent of the dry weight of vascular plant cell walls. It is comprised of aromatic compounds that may be valuable commodities for the biofuel…
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Timothy Donohue, Daniel Gall, Wayne Kontur, Hoon Kim, John Ralph, Daniel Noguera, Brian Fox, Craig Bingman | P170274US02

Flow-Based Aerobic Depolymerization of Lignin

UW-Madison researchers have developed a flow reactor for lignin valorization. The flow-based reactor increases monomer production while limiting unwanted side/subsequent reactions. In particular, mate…
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Shannon Stahl, Christopher Holland, Eric Weeda, Thatcher Root | P220013WO01

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Solar Cells for Reducing HMF to Valuable Platform Chemicals

A biomass-derived chemical called HMF (5-hydroxymethylfurfural) can be turned into a variety of industrial molecules. For example, it can be reduced to BHMF or 2,5-bis(hydroxymethyl) furan, an importa…
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Kyoung-Shin Choi, John Roylance, Stephen Kubota | P150141US01

Synthesis of Bio-Based Polyurethanes and Polyesters

Plant biomass remains a promising renewable source of important platform chemicals currently derived from petroleum. These include the chemical building blocks used to make polyurethanes (commonly fou…
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George Huber, Hochan Chang, James Dumesic | P210122US01

Method to Produce Furandicarboxylic Acid (Fdca) from 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (Hmf)

The platform molecule HMF is derived from biomass and converted into a variety of downstream products. One of the most important of these is FDCA, which is used as a monomer in the production of fiber…
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James Dumesic, Ali Hussain Motagamwala | P160074US01

One-Step Process to Generate Lignin-Derived Aromatics from Raw Biomass

Lignocellulosic biomass is a renewable energy source with great potential for generating value-added chemicals. One of the major components of biomass is lignin (15-25 percent). Due to its infamo…
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Shannon Stahl, Hao Luo | P190134US02

Improved Method for Converting Biomass into Levulinic Acid for Renewable Fuel Sources

Increasing crude oil prices and concerns with sustainability have led to a growing interest in producing chemicals and fuels from renewable sources. A major focus for the replacement of petroleum feed…
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Troy Runge | P110356US01

Producing Olefins for Use in Gasoline, Jet and Diesel Fuels from Chemicals Obtained from Levulinic Acid

Levulinic acid is a biomass-derived compound that can be obtained inexpensively in high yields from waste cellulose-containing materials. It has been identified as a top biomass-derived chemical due t…
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James Dumesic, David Martin Alonso, Jesse Bond, Dong Wang, Ryan West | P100099US01

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Fatty Acid-Producing Microbes for Generating Medium- and Long-Chain Hydrocarbons

New, renewable sources of transportation fuel are needed to meet continuing demand. While the main focus has been on biomass-derived gasoline alternatives such as ethanol and other short-chain alcohol…
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Brian Pfleger, Rebecca Lennen | P09329US02

Recombinant High-Lipid Microbe for Bioproduct & Biofuel Production

Lipids derived from microorganisms, including bacteria, yeast and microalgae, offer a promising source of renewable fuels and chemicals. Oleaginous microbes – defined as those accumulating more than…
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Timothy Donohue, Kimberly Lemmer, Weiping Zhang, Daniel Noguera | P170068US02

Microorganisms and Methods for Producing 2-Pyrone-4,6-Dicarboxylic Acid and Other Compounds

Recombinant microorganisms configured for enhanced production of compounds such as 2-pyrone-4,6-dicarboxylic acid (PDC) and methods of using the recombinant microorganisms for the production of these …
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Timothy Donohue, Jose Perez, Wayne Kontur, Daniel Noguera, German Umana Chapeton | P180219US02

Modified Yeast to Boost Biofuel Yields

Producing biofuel on an industrial scale requires efficient fermentation of cellulosic plant material. Glucose and xylose are two of the most abundant sugars found in biomass. The yeast most commonly …
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Trey Sato, Jeff Piotrowski | P140199US02

Improved S. Cerevisiae Strains for Anaerobic Xylose Fermentation and High Stress Tolerance

Worldwide renewable energy sources are in high demand due to climate change combined with rapid depletion of fossil fuel reserves. Bioethanol remains the most attractive choice as an alternative to co…
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Audrey Gasch, Maria Sardi | P180009US01

Microbes Produce High Yields of Fatty Alcohols from Glucose

Fatty alcohols are used in detergents, emulsifiers, lubricants and personal care items. More than 1.3 million tons of fatty alcohols are used worldwide each year, representing a $3 billion market. C…
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Brian Pfleger, J. Tyler Youngquist | P140076US02

Methods of Processing Aromatic Compounds

A method of processing a solution comprising aromatic compounds. The method includes culturing a first microorganism in the solution for a time sufficient to reduce an amount of an aromatic compound a…
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Timothy Donohue, Daniel Noguera, Julian Oshlag, Weiping Zhang, Samantha Austin | P150130US02

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