Facilities & Equipment

Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory
on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Campus

ibrl_coverBioprocessing product research and development facility that bridges the gap from basic discovery to commercialization of bioproducts

Moving from basic research discoveries to commercial products requires a unique facility where various plant and plant co-products (biomass) can be tested for their suitability for bioprocessing to value-added products. An important dimension of this work is to scale up processes from the lab bench using an integrated small-scale pilot plant facility. The integrated bioprocessing research laboratory (IBRL) fills this gap in the channel from innovative research to market application and commercial products.

This investment will leverage the infrastructure and strengths of the University and the State in plant biotechnology and capture the potential of industrial biotechnology to create novel fuels, chemicals, and food ingredients. Corn stover together with dedicated energy crops such as Miscanthus and switchgrass can serve as the plant technology platforms for a new biobased economy. This investment will empower Illinois to build on its strengths and lead in the growth and development of the biobased economy creating new jobs and economic opportunities for agricultural producers and for the processing industries for which the State is well known.

Vision: Activities in the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Lab will specifically focus on the intermediate scale up of bench level processes as part of a continuum leading to commercialization of processes for economical production of bioproducts. Included in the lab will be state-of-the-art pilot scale processing unit operations, including facilities for cereal grains and biomass handling, storage and pre-treatment, enzyme treatment, aerobic and anaerobic fermentation (20-300L), product separation and recovery, process integration, sensor technology, and additional technologies for analysis of biomass cell structure and composition. Such a facility will allow scientists to investigate the scalability of new technologies showing promise at the lab bench level. Improving efficiency and lowering the costs of bioprocessing for the production of bioproducts and chemicals and the development of new bioprocessing methods to more efficiently create products from biomass other than corn and soybeans will be made possible. Future leaders in the bio-based economy will be trained in the IBRL.


Improving corn and testing new feedstocks such as Miscanthus, switchgrass, tropical maize, etc.


Increase efficiency of enzyme treatment and aerobic and anaerobic fermentation


Improve and find new uses for distillers grains; refine chemicals and create new value-added products and food ingredients



Cross section of IBRL



example of equipment

Faculty and researchers affiliated with the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois have the expertise needed to improve efficiencies, reduce water usage, and increase biofuel production in the corn ethanol industry. Researchers are also developing and improving technologies for next-generation biofuels and value-added products derived from biomass.A 2500-square foot pre-pilot bioprocessing research facility has been converted for current and new research projects. The laboratory has the capacity to support research at each step in the bioenergy value chain:

  • deconstruction
  • fermentation
  • thermochemical processes
  • analysis
  • co-product evaluation and optimization.