Central College joins three Iowa Regents’ universities and another primarily undergraduate in-state institution to launch Chemurgy 2.0 — the shorthand designation of a major initiative that will position Iowa as a national leader in biomanufacturing.
The formal project, entitled “Building Capacity Across Iowa to Meet Human Needs from Things That Grow,” was recently announced as one of six new EPSCoR projects by the National Science Foundation. EPSCoR stands for Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, which is intended to advance scientific progress and elevate discovery nationwide.
The Iowa EPSCoR project brings together researchers from Central College in Pella, Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa State University in Ames (lead institution), the University of Iowa in Iowa City and the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.
The partners’ collective vision for Chemurgy 2.0 is to go beyond just chemistry — using an array of basic and applied sciences, biological systems and advanced manufacturing techniques — to produce plastics for additive manufacturing; fibers for flexible and rigid materials; and proteins for diagnostics and therapeutics. The project is designed to enhance research capacity and infrastructure for Iowa’s bioscience and advanced manufacturing industries while also supporting the development of a diverse, skilled, advanced biomanufacturing workforce.
Central’s principal investigator, Jay Wackerly, associate professor of chemistry, along with faculty and student researchers will work to synthesize value-added monomers and create polymers from inexpensive agricultural feedstocks like corn and soybeans. The result will be access to a potentially vast array of plastics for a wide range of uses.
The full research announcement may be read at NSF awards Iowa researchers $20 million to build advanced biomanufacturing capacity.