Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in an ongoing feature on AURI’s four primary focus areas.

In each issue, we will update our readers on AURI activities, projects and events in these areas.

FOOD PRODUCTS

Wild rice nutraceuticals

Wild rice might be a super food. AURI and University of Minnesota researchers are assessing possible uses for wild rice as a nutraceutical or health-promoting food. “There is increasing interest in nutraceuticals, as people are working to prevent health conditions by eating the right foods,” says Charan Wadhawan, AURI food scientist. “This study is a great way to find value-added opportunities for wild rice,” a Minnesota crop, says Randy Hilliard, AURI project director. The research will be finished in early 2012 and findings will be published on AURI’s website.

BIOBASED PRODUCTS

Biobased event follow-up

During AURI’s Biobased Products Event in August, breakout teams formed to brainstorm action items. AURI project director Randy Hilliard, the event’s organizer, has been following up on these items.

The research and technology team has been the most active, Hilliard says. They met in October and November and are working on a compilation of biobased certification programs. Hilliard is identifying biobased manufacturing standards, specifications and certifications, including a summary on the USDA BioPreferred program.

For the full Biobased Products report, and presentation materials from the August event, visit the research section at www.auri.org or contact Randy Hilliard at rhilliard@auri.org.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Midwest biomass resources

AURI project director Becky Philipp and scientist Alan Doering are leading a Midwest Biomass Resources Initiative. AURI is partnering with organizations in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota to develop a Midwest biomass resource inventory, conducted by North Dakota State University researchers. Project funding is provided by AURI, Bemidji Joint Economic Development Commission and Minnesota Power.

This project follows AURI’s participation in the Heating the Midwest Initiative and its biomass resources action team, with Philipp and Doering serving as team leaders. Members of the Heating Initiative represent industry, government, nonprofit, university and tribal organizations that are committed to advancing biomass thermal heat and power from sources such as pellets, wood, agricultural residue and energy crops.

Results of the Midwest Biomass Resources Initiative will be released at the spring 2012 Heating the Midwest Conference in Eau Claire, Wisc. The report will be useful to businesses and organizations interested in biomass energy, such as a north central Minnesota group that is considering a local market assessment of industrial-heating biomass pellet demand. For more information, visit www.heatingthemidwest.org.

COPRODUCTS

Assessing food-processing coproducts

AURI and the University of Minnesota are assessing coproducts produced by Minnesota food processors – particularly those that are under-valued or underutilized.

The assessment will include information on the volume produced in Minnesota, coproducts’ composition and market feasibility for using coproducts.

Randy Hilliard, AURI project director, says various industries, including food, will benefit from this assessment that will identify opportunities such as animal feed, biobased products and fuels. When the assessment is finalized, results will be on the AURI website.