Pfizer And Michigan State University Team Up For Bioeconomy R&D

May 10, 2007
Pfizer site to become MSU-led bioeconomy research and development center

Representatives from Pfizer Inc. and Michigan State University (MSU) announced they have reached an agreement in principle for the new bioeconomy research and development center, which will be based in an advanced-research facility donated by Pfizer.

The agreement calls for Pfizer to donate a pilot plant and research building in Holland to MSU, in which MSU will develop a unique bioeconomy research and commercialization center. When fully operational, the MSU facility is expected to employ 100 people -- most of whom will come from scientific and technical backgrounds -- and will serve as a hub for the growth of bioeconomic activity in the area.

Bioeconomic activity takes place when companies produce goods, services or energy from raw materials derived from renewable plant-based sources. A bioeconomy for Michigan will help reinvigorate the state's economic base by connecting strengths in agriculture, forestry and natural resources with traditional strengths in the manufacturing and industrial sectors.

Previously used for drug development, the three-story, 138,000-square-foot building includes modern laboratories for up to 100 researchers, a 125-seat auditorium, a library, atrium, offices and a pilot plant. According to Pfizer, the facility has a replacement value of $50 million.

The pilot plant has a total chemical reactor capacity of 37,000 liters and centralized automatic controls. The pilot plant will permit initial production of biobased products in volumes sufficient for commercial prototyping and testing by Michigan companies in furniture, automotive plastics and other industries.

Research work at the facility is expected to focus on areas such as:

  • The economical production of useful biomass.
  • Biofuel refining.
  • Use of biomass feedstock for production of specialty, foundational and commodity chemicals.
  • Bioeconomy standards compliance and quality assurance.
  • Social, environmental and workplace safety issues in the emerging bioeconomy.

The facility offers numerous features for the creation of improved fuels and new chemicals and materials from biomass. Collectively, the technologies to be studied at the site should enhance entire biobased value chains, touching farms and forests, biomass refineries, biomaterials fabrication, "green" manufacturing, and ultimate product recycling.

Through many complementary, mutually reinforcing initiatives cross the entire state, MSU is moving decisively to advance Michigan's post-petroleum economy.

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