Grant funds research into nanomaterials effect on feedstock yield

By University of Arkansas at Little Rock | January 02, 2015

The Arkansas Science and Technology Authority has approved grant funding for a UALR biology professor who says nanomaterials could increase the germination rate and biomass yield of bioenergy crops.

Mariya Khodakovskaya, associate professor in the UALR Department of Biology, says the establishment of an effective system for the production of bioenergy crops in the U.S. could have significant positive economic and energy implications.

The grant award amount is $37,020.

As the market price for commercially available nanomaterials has dropped dramatically, advanced nanotechnological approaches to germinate and grow bioenergy crops is a good alternative to genetic engineering or breeding, according to Khodakovskaya.

“Near and mid-term goals for advancing biomass bioenergy include improvements to cropping practices to maximize total annual production per unit area,” Khodakovskaya said.

“And, because certain types of nanomaterials in low doses can reduce the time needed for seed germination, researchers expect to get more plants in a shorter time and to overcome some of the problems associated with weather conditions.”

Additionally, nanomaterials could promote the vegetative growth of bioenergy crops, according to Khodakovskaya who said the project could lead to collaborations with biotechnological companies focusing on improvements to bioenergy crops.