The University of Illinois hosted a grand opening of the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL) on campus Sept. 27. State Sen. Chapin Rose led the effort to secure $26 million from the state to help construct the IBRL in order to support agriculture, business, and industry in Central Illinois.
“The Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory is the final, but critically important piece, that can make Central Illinois the bioprocessing capital of the world,” Sen. Rose said. “With the brain and research power of the University of Illinois through the IBRL on the east, and the production and shipping capacity of Decatur with ADM and Tate and Lyle on the west, with the best corn and soybeans in the world in between, the I-72 corridor is in a prime position to capitalize on new technology products which in turn will create jobs.”
Rose points to a number or reasons why Central Illinois can be on the cutting edge of the bioprocessing industry:
- Decatur is host to the production capacity of ADM, and Tate & Lyle, and their own top-flight research laboratories;
- The region is surrounded by corn and beans – the two crops necessary to fuel this conversion from petroleum-based chemicals to renewable, environmentally-friendly biochemical products;
- Decatur has the shipping capacity of the Midwest Inland Port – with 100 million customers within 10 hours truck traffic of Decatur;
- The State of Illinois’ strategic investment in the IBRL to bring the world-class brainpower of the University of Illinois to industry to serve as a catalyst to research and production allowing us to get in on “the ground floor” of this new industry.
Industrial Biotechnology is enabling the production of a new generation of renewable chemicals, biobased materials and bioplastics produced from biomass. These can serve as a replacement or supplement to traditional fossil fuel-based chemicals and products. The emergence of this technology represents a historic opportunity to reverse job losses in the chemicals and plastics sectors, increase energy security, replace fossil fuel-derived chemicals, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, maintain U.S leadership in clean energy and chemistry, and build domestic renewable chemicals and biobased production facilities.