An ambitious, University based, USDA sponsored research project investigating
the sustainable production and distribution of bioenergy and
bioproducts for the central U.S.


Robert Brown and Tristan Brown, co-authors.
Above: Robert Brown and Tristan Brown, co-authors.

Book Review: Why Are We Producing Biofuels?

By Kristin Peterson

Dr. Robert C. Brown, CenUSA Bioenergy researcher, Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Founding Director of the BioEconomy Institute at Iowa State University has been widely recognized for his scientific accomplishments. He has published more than 120 refereed papers and leads or co-leads more than $70 million in research funding.

But it was a professional transformation that led him from teaching thermochemical principles of coal combustion to his current professional focus, exploring biofuels.

Why are we Producing Biofuels?, a book authored by Robert Brown and his son Tristin R. Brown, provides a new rationale for the use of advanced biofuels, the technologies being developed and the barriers that must be overcome.

The book’s theme is a professional and personal one for Brown, who came to Iowa State University from the private sector. He accepted a position in the department of Mechanical Engineering where he conducted research and taught a course on coal combustion.

Shortly after arriving at Iowa State, he attended a lecture on atmospheric science; an event that Brown said changed the course of his life.

“I left the lecture and returned to my coal combustion class saying that if the federal government outlawed carbon dioxide or decided carbon dioxide was a pollutant; I was going to have to find a new career,” said Brown. “I said it facetiously but, in fact, it set me on a course of looking at well, what if fossil fuels are no longer acceptable? What are we going to use as an energy source?” Brown said.

Despite having been widely published in scientific journals, Brown wanted a forum to share his ideas with people who may not have much knowledge on the subject.

“I give talks to community groups and producer groups and such. … And, that’s an opportunity, but I wanted to reach farther than that,” Brown said. The book is aimed at policy makers and the general public.

“We have no choice. Ultimately, we have to resort to solar energy to provide both food and energy to this planet,“ Brown said. “Fossil fuels are being using at a tremendous rate. We’re going to have to learn to harness the solar energy today to provide us our future energy.”

“Plants use the natural system of photosynthesis to convert solar energy into carbohydrates, plant tissue,” said Brown. “Biofuels and plants are the energy of today, for the planet of tomorrow.

Why are We Producing Biofuels is available in paperback at Amazon.

Tiffany Heng Moss
Above: Tiffany Heng Moss

CenUSA Entomology Research: Examining Insect Populations and Exploring Natural Resistance

In this new video, Dr. Tiffany Heng-Moss, Professor of Entomology at the University of Nebraska Lincoln and CenUSA collaborator, explains her research efforts to survey insect populations, explore natural resistance in feedstocks, and what impact this can have on producers in the future.