A 40-year-old discovery is showing promise as a chemical pre-treatment that breaks down plant fiber. That could release the simple sugars in corn stalks or switchgrass so they can be fermented into ethanol. And that could add value to Iowa’s crops or the fibrous co-products of ethanol production. John Verkade, left, a University Professor of chemistry at Iowa State, and Reed Oshel, a graduate student in biorenewable resources and technology, are studying the compound which they are not identifying as they explore patent options.
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