KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A 2012 graduate of the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, Anton Astner, has received the prestigious "Leo Schörghuber Award for the Promotion of Wood Research" at the 16th Munich Wood Colloquium for work he pursued while studying for his master’s degree. Astner was recognized for his fundamental study on the optimization of the organosolv fractionation process for the separation of lignocellulosic biomass into lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose.
Astner’s findings could help biorefineries operate under optimum conditions for industrial production of various derived materials from lignocellulosic biomass. Lignin, a biopolymer, provides strength to plants and can be used for industrial applications as such for the manufacture of carbon fibers.
Astner investigated the process conditions needed to attain high lignin yield by using feedstocks native to North America such as switchgrass and tulip poplar. Lignin yield was maximized by the application of an experimental design methodology called Taguchi Robust Product Design (TRPD), which is a cost effective optimization method for industrial processes.
Under an agreement between the University of Tennessee and the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, Astner investigated the organosolv fractionation method at both the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences and at the UT Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries as part of a joint master's thesis. Drs. Joe Bozell and Tim Young, both faculty in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries and members of the UT Center for Renewable Carbon, were Astner’s co-advisors. Young is also a 2013/2014 visiting Fubright Scholar at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences.
Astner received his M.S. with a concentration in wood science, technology and biomaterials from UT in December 2012. He is a native of Werfenweng, Austria.
The award is sponsored by the Leo Schörghuber Foundation and is given to young graduates in wood science and includes financial support.
Dr. Tim Young, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, firstname.lastname@example.org