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Dr. Kevin Hicks, Ph.D.

Research Leader of the Sustainable Biofuels and CoProducts Research Unit, ERRC

Kevin Hicks, Ph.D., is the Research Leader of the Sustainable Biofuels and CoProducts Research Unit of the Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC), ARS, USDA in Wyndmoor (suburban Philadelphia) PA. At ERRC, Kevin leads a team of 30 scientists and engineers conducting research to develop sustainable biofuels and coproducts from agricultural commodities and byproducts. Dr. Hicks is the author of approximately 200 peer-reviewed and technical publications and 10 patents as well as numerous presentations to national and international audiences. He has won numerous national awards for his work and has served as an officer in the Carbohydrate Division of the American Chemical Society and in many other professional societies. Kevin’s team was just awarded the Agricultural Research Service’s National Technology Transfer Award for helping to develop a new advanced biofuel, winter barley ethanol, which is being commercialized in a 65 million gallon per year production plant starting up in the fall of 2010 in Hopewell Virginia.

Winter Barley Ethanol and Other New Advanced Biofuels

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and the resulting RFS2 requires an aggressive ramping up of renewable fuel use from the present 9 billion gallons to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022. Conventional biofuels will be “capped” at 15 billion gallons per year, requiring the production of 21 billion gallons of either “Advanced” or “Cellulosic” biofuels. Just 2 years into this plan, it has become apparent that cellulosic biofuels are still at least “5 years away”. To solve this problem, researchers at our research center have focused on producing advanced biofuels by much simpler and achievable strategies. Winter barley ethanol, a fuel that can meet RFS2’s criteria for an advanced biofuel, was conceived and developed by our ERRC team and is now being commercialized by Osage Bio Energy. Other strategies we are using for making advanced and cellulosic biofuels include the use of pyrolysis technology to make crude bio-oil that can be refined by present day petroleum refineries to make “green” gasoline and diesel.