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MSU Bioeconomy Institute in Holland attracts new alternative feedstock venture



Deborah Johnson Wood

The Michigan State University Bioeconomy Institute has attracted another biotechnology initiative to its multi-million-dollar laboratory, designed as a biotechnology business incubator after pharmaceutical giant Pfizer donated the facility to the university.

eFarms, created by four West Michigan partners, needed a laboratory with researchers and animal nutritionists to fully test and produce its proprietary product: an on-site farm system that produces alternative fuel and a nutritional feed source for livestock.

"It's a small system designed for a farmer to process his own corn to make ethanol," says Richard Edmonds, eFarms CEO. "The byproduct is a viable feed source for his animals.

"We know corn will produce the feed source. What we're working on with MSU is to find out if we can use waste produce, like the apples laying on the ground, and see how much it takes to make ethanol for the farmer and see if the byproduct is a viable feedstock. And can we do this with any type of leftover produce? We want to help farmers put the waste to use, but the main thing is to produce the feed source."

Edmonds says eFarms has a prototype in use on a West Michigan farm at an undisclosed location. He says that four tabletop models are in production now for use in the lab.

eFarms has about 900 square feet of lab and office space at the institute and the use of four different hooded lab areas with 15-gallon processing tanks. The tabletop eFarms systems will each produce a gallon of ethanol a week.

"None of us are scientists," Edmonds says of the eFarms partners. "We needed the animal nutrition experts and we're working with Archer Daniels Midland to run nutrition tests on our feedstock.

"Right now we're looking for five or six farmers to test our prototypes that are in production now at a manufacturer in Dutton."

Source: Richard Edmonds, eFarms; Research & Graduate Studies Office, Michigan State University

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Have a development news tip for Rapid Growth? Contact us at info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.
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