Source: UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2017
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2020
Grant Year
Project Director
Ogden, K.
Recipient Organization
TUCSON,AZ 85719-4824
Performing Department
Chemical & Environmental Engr
Non Technical Summary
The Sustainable Bioeconomy for Arid Regions (SBAR) is a multi-level research project that will cultivate two desert-dwelling crops, guayule and guar, for a sustainable bioeconomy. The Energy Independence and Security Act is calling for the production of 36B gallons per year of biofuels by 2022. Combined, guayule (perennial) and guar (annual) feedstocks can provide biomass year round for biofuel production. Both crops are drought and heat tolerant, grow on marginal lands, and provide economic returns. Scale up to profitable production, however, requires feedstock improvements, expansion of cultivation, agronomic knowledge and practices, and economic crop residue utilization.Researchers from The University of Arizona (UA), Bridgestone Americas, Inc., Colorado School of Mines (CSM), Colorado State University (CSU), New Mexico State University (NMSU), and the USDA-ARS will collaborate on research, development, and deployment (RDD) activities to: 1) improve feedstock; 2) produce feedstock in a sustainable manner; 3) understand how conversion to fuel is affected by variable feedstock quality; and 4) enhance transport, techno-economic, and sustainability models to provide a clear path to commercialization. Partners such as Iowa State University, Pacific Northwest Laboratories, and Mercurius Biofuels Inc. be engaged midway through the project to assess and scale-up bagasse conversion and upgrading to jet, biodiesel, and gasoline.SBAR will co-produce biofuels and bioproducts using minimal water and nutrients from guar and guayule crops. To encourage and develop a bioeconomy workforce, the education and extension plan includes collaboration with Native Nations, small-scale growers, and school districts with high-percentage underserved populations. The SW U.S. testbed is critical to understanding how to sustain global agriculture in the face of climate variably.Expected long-range outcomes include:· Improved guayule profitability for simultaneous production of fuel, rubber, and high value products;· Developed regional sustainable supply of bagasse for fuel and guar gum;· Expanded production areas in the SW U.S.;· Developed and disseminated best practices for growing guayule and guar;· Assessment of the local and regional environmental, economic, and social impacts; and· Improved bioeconomy-related pipeline for underrepresented youth.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
The Sustainable Bioeconomy for Arid Regions (SBAR) proposes a coordinated plan to develop a systems approach for feedstock development, production, and delivery in the Southwest U.S. to ensure a sustainable regional bioeconomy. Specifically, our approach is to optimize the production of guayule and guar to enable the Southwest U.S. to significantly impact the biofuels and other high-value product markets. Researchers from The University of Arizona (UA), Bridgestone Americas, Inc., Colorado School of Mines (CSM), Colorado State University (CSU), New Mexico State University (NMSU), and the USDA-ARS will collaborate on research, development, and deployment (RDD) activities to: 1) improve feedstocks; 2) produce feedstocks in a sustainable manner; 3) understand how conversion to fuel is affected by variable feedstock quality; and 4) augment transportation, techno-economic, and sustainability models to provide a clear path to commercialization. The RDD activities will be complemented by bagasse conversion and upgrading to jet, biodiesel, and gasoline via pyrolysis (Iowa State University, ISU), hydrothermal liquefaction (Pacific Northwest Laboratories, PNNL), and acid hydrolysis (Mercurius Biofuels Inc., MB). Conversion technologies will be compared on a mass and energy balance basis. Given the fluctuations in fuel markets, a sustainable regional bioeconomy will be more robust if commercially relevant commodity bioproducts are manufactured concurrently from the same feedstocks. The nascent U.S. commercialization of natural rubber and guar gum make guayule and guar especially well-suited for the SW. For example, Bridgestone has established the technology and supply chain for guayule rubber, and a steady supply of guar gum is important for the thickener and shale oil and gas industries. SBAR's proposed co-production of biofuel, rubber, and guar gum will make farm-to-fuel feasible and sustainable.Feedstock Development1.1Improve biomass quantity and qualitythrough geneticsandtraditional breeding.1.2Develop high-throughputphenotypingto support crop expansionusing remote-sensing methods to create interactive databases/tools.Sustainable Feedstock Production2.1Provideirrigationappsthat include salinity, herbicide, and nutrient algorithmsto growers.2.2 Initiate soil quality and health studies that are critical to environmental sustainability.2.3Identifyeconomic co-productsin guayule and guar,e.g.,biologically activecomponents.Feedstock Logistics3.1Evaluate how seasonality, processing, age,and storage affect product quality, conversion efficiency,and economics.3.2Develop and optimize value-added, system-level models for demand-driven harvesting,collection, storage, andtransportation.3.3 Demonstrate feasibility of farm to fuel conversion of bagasse.Social, Economic, and Environmental Sustainability4.1Develop a scalable engineering system model forcropbioproduct and biorefineryconcepts, ensuring financial feasibilitybyTechno-Economic Analysis (TEA) while evaluating economic impact to rural communities through input-output methods.4.2Integrate regionally appropriate metrics and combine results from SBAR-developed data intosustainability models to inform ongoing experiments and provide a path tocommercialization of biofuels and bioproducts.4.3 Begin Interfacing with regional growers to de-riskU.S. production ofguayule and guar while evaluating the social impacts.Education, Extension and Outreach5.1Produce Extension bulletins andweb materials to inform growers of agronomicand irrigationrequirements.5.2Hold workshops throughout the region onsustainablepracticesto expand crop productionto new rural regions andNative Nation lands.5.3Train teams of students and teachers with a focus on rural and underrepresented groups.5.4Develop agriculturalbioenergy and bioproduct K-12 modules.5.5Involve youth in 4-H projects and STEM summer camps.
Project Methods
Feedstock Developmenta) Exploitation of apomixis - Guayule. We will determine the rate of apomixes in USDA NPGS accessions with flow cytometry. Progeny will be evaluated with single nucleotide polymorphism markers to determine relatedness of lines. Crosses will be made from the lines that are most distant to obtain heterotic effects on the next generation.b) Phenotypic characterization - Guayule. We will plant the accessions in replicated field plots. We will use a high-throughput phenotyping tractor with mounted sensors to estimate biomass temperature, and plant height. Non-destructive measurements will include leaf classification, flowering rating, and plant height. Field measurements will include destructive harvest of plants for dry weight, leaf area index, and rubber/resin content. The outcome is to recommend the correct accession for the region.c) Phenotype characterization - Guar. We will study guar seed productivity and biomass yield and quality under dryland and growth-stage based irrigation regimes. We will evaluate the physiology of plants to understand drought tolerance mechanisms and effects of soil temperature on seed germination and emergence. We will expand the evaluation of selected genotypes. At Tucumcari, NM we will assess produced water on biomass production and gum quality. d) Flowering Control to Improve Yield - Guayule. We will identify native guayule gene candidates for flowering and perform gene expression analysis of the top candidates using bioinformatic analysis. By quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis of greenhouse and field plants, we will characterize the expression of genes known to relate to flowering. From these data we will select the strategies for downregulation and/or overexpression. Feedstock Developmenta) Irrigation Efficiency Management. We will collect soil moisture, crop canopy density, and remote sensing measurements during experiments, including normalized difference vegetation index for correlation of crop coefficients and canopy density and growth stage. These will improve the crop coefficient model for guayule and enable the addition of a guar crop coefficient algorithm to the WINDS model. b) Soil Health. Soil samples will be collected to profile the phylogenetic diversity and composition (alpha and beta) of soil microbial communities. These data will characterize the abundance and diversity of the desert microbial communities. We will design specific qPCR primers to evaluate the abundance of specific taxa, previously shown to be sensitive to increasing aridity. We will generate a nitrogen-cycling metabolic profile by quantifying the abundance, functional redundancy, and specific activity of key nutrient cycling genes. c) Herbicides and Pesticides. The team will use standard small plot research methods to assess guayule tolerance to herbicides. Once crop safety is assured for a candidate approach or set of materials, we will petition the AZ Department of Agriculture to use one or more of these crop chemicals to help address insect problems for commercial plantings in AZ.d) Specialty co-products and value-added products. We will extract and fractionate guayule and guar biomass to characterize plant metabolites. Structural characterization of isolated molecules includes high-resolution and tandem mass spectrometry, and 1-D and 2-D nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.Feedstock Logisticsa) Harvest, collection and storage. Storage conditions and duration affect biomass composition as some components are susceptible to degradation. We will characterize the harvested and stored biomass for elemental content and biochemical composition. We will: 1) generate biochemical profiles using quantitative and qualitative analytical methods from prepared and stored biofuel feedstock materials; and 2) determine the variations as a function of season, phenotype, and water source. b) Preprocessing. Since alkali and alkali earth metals can catalyze bio-oil decomposition and reduce bio-oil yields, we will determine the effect of the rubber extraction process on residue metals content for guayule bagasse downstream processing. Hydrothermal liquefaction, fast pyrolysis, and acid hydrolysis are our chosen conversion methods to be compared and contrasted in batch and pilot-scale continuous processes. c) Transportation. We will formulate the biomass transportation model as mixed integer problems, with several optimization sub-problems for different stages of the whole logistics/transportation process. We will focus on economically driven decisions for: storage operations and levels; preprocessing schedules; transportation routes; and time arrangements. Social, Economic, and Environmental Sustainabilitya) Environmental and economic sustainability. The first steps of conducting a process-based LCA and TEA overlap: creating a process model and collecting supply chain data. The LCA will follow ISO 14040 methods. The TEA includes six consecutive steps: 1) goal and scope definition; 2) process modeling; 3) energy and mass balance; 4) cost engineering; 5) financial analysis; and 6) model refinement. We will collect primary data from our research activities for yields (i.e., flowering control), irrigation, herbicides, pesticides, harvest, collection, storage, preprocessing, and transportation. Environmental metrics will include EROI, GHG emissions, biodiversity, land use change, air quality, and water quality, using standard LCA methods. b) Social sustainability: Focus group session results will be compiled, evaluated, and synthesized to develop a guidance document. For the SBAR risk assessment with stakeholders, the factors will include soil health, herbicide and pesticide usage, sustainability, irrigation efficiency management, environmental impact, economic feasibility, and value-added products. Our regional analysis, field scale studies, and risk assessment will be coupled with stakeholder focus group input to conceptualize effective communication tools. Recommendations that lead to tools with general effectiveness will be used as models for our online tool developmentEducation, Extension, and Outreacha) Extension collaborative activities with growers. We will establish alternative crops training and demonstration sites in partnership with UA and NMSU experiment stations and/or extension offices. Our methodologies, best practices, and curriculum will be distributed through existing relationships with regional and national organizations. We will prepare information in print and on a website, documenting agronomic practices, results of demonstration trials, and key information on economic and marketing prospects. b) Secondary school and 4-H youth extension and outreach. We will develop Science and Engineering teaching modules and 4-H programs that reflect current trends in biofuels. SBAR Graduate Fellows will be teamed with teachers to develop teaching modules related to crop development, biofuel production processes, and our research plan. These educational materials will include lecture and hands-on activities that tie to the foci of feedstock development, sustainable feedstock production, and feedstock logistics. c) Project Puente. SBAR will offer internships, apprenticeships, and seasonal research employment opportunities that are related to biofuels to Project Puente interns. SBAR will bolster existing Project Puente activities for the regional biosciences economy.d) Graduate education. For our GK-12-inspired approach, we will offer workshops to graduate students on classroom management, teaching strategies, and lesson design prior to placing them in K-12 classrooms during the academic year. Graduate students will work side by side with teachers to introduce student to bioenergy and bioproducts through hands on activities. ?