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Ethanol center hopes to expand research with $1.9 million from state

The National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center will be able to expand its research capability through newly announced state funds.

Located in University Park of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, the center has been awarded $1.9 million though the Rebuild Illinois Wet Lab Capital program by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. NCERC joins seven other laboratories from across the state who received a total investment of $15.4 million.

As a research and development center that works to commercialize biotechnologies, NCERC’s facility houses fermentation and processing vessels ranging from bench- to pilot-scale that allow companies hoping to introduce their biotechnology to the marketplace to perform all their research at the same facility using NCERC’s staff of researchers, scientists and engineers.

NCERC plans to utilize award funding to dramatically expand its intermediate-scale R&D capabilities.

“The equipment that will be purchased using these award funds will be placed in NCERC’s Fermentation Laboratory and Fermentation Suite, two areas of NCERC’s facility that receive the most attention from startups and companies doing cutting-edge research in the biorenewables sector,” said John Caupert, NCERC’s executive director. “We’re extremely excited by the expansion of our research capabilities and look forward to leveraging these assets to attract new clients. We also want to thank our partners on this project, especially the Illinois Corn Growers Association who has generously contributed to the matching funds on the project.”

Mark Wilson, chairman of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and farmer from Toulon, Ill., said, “ICMB is pleased to provide matching funds to expand the wet lab capabilities at NCERC. We look forward to the new consumer industrial and healthcare products from corn empowered by this investment.”

Randy DeSutter, president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association and farmer from Woodhull, Ill., added, “We commend DCEO and the governor for providing this opportunity to grow the biotech industry in Illinois.”

Since oening its doors in 2003, NCERC’s goal has to become a leader in corn-to-ethanol research. As technology evolves, NCERC’s fermentation capabilities have expanded to reach new markets, including corn-to-bioproducts research.

A portion of the award received by SIUE will be dedicated to expanding the analytical capabilities at the Biotechnology Laboratory Incubator, which currently houses the Shimadzu Innovation Laboratory at SIUE. The lab is a partnership between SIUE and Shimadzu, a leading-edge science and analytical technology company, that supports student and industry research at the university through the Shimadzu’s Partnership for Academic Research and Quality of Life program. 

The NCERC at SIUE is dedicated to the development and commercialization of biofuels, specialty chemicals and other renewable compounds. The center’s fully functional dry grind pilot plant and laboratories are equipped with advanced biofuels capabilities including corn fractionation, pretreatment, and a fermentation suite. Facilities are staffed by industry veterans with more than 100 years of collective experience in fermentation and biofuels production.

For more information contact Jackie Hayes at, or visit

SIUE file photo

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