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1st Place winner and recipient of $350 award: Sean Cook & Team

Effect of Culture Conditions on Lignase Production and Activity by White Rot Fungi Phanerochaete chrysosporium ( ATCC 20696) and Separation of its Lignin Peroxidase

Sean Cook 1, Jennifer Ntoni 1, Peng Wang 1, Xiaoke Hu 1, Maria Begonia 1, Ken S. Lee 2, Huey-Min Hwang 1 1 Biology Department and 2Chemistry Department, Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi


A potential cost-effective technology for hydrolyzing lignocellulose to simple sugars is the use of cellulase for breakdown of cellulose to glucose. However, hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass is more complicated than that of pure cellulose due to the presence of lignin which had been implicated as a competitive cellulose adsorbent that reduces the amount of cellulose available for catalyzing cellulose hydrolysis. Lignin removal and/or redistribution are thought to have a significant effect on the observed rates of enzymatic hydrolysis. The most efficient lignin- degrading microorganisms are the white rot fungi due to their being nonpollutant, enzymatic efficiency and economy. The ligninolytic system of white rot fungi primarily consists of lignin peroxidase (LiP), manganese peroxidase (MnP) and laccase. Phanerochaete chrysosporium is capable of producing several kinds of lignase, and its activity of enzymes production depends on the culture conditions. The present work was carried out to determine the optimal culture conditions of Phanerochaete chrysosporium ( ATCC 20696) for maximizing lignase production and activity. Additionally, separation of its lignin peroxidase was conducted. In summary, an optimized culture medium/condition was constructed (per liter of Kirk’s medium): dextrose 10 g, ammonium sulfate 0.11 g, MnSO 4 9 mg, veratryl alcohol 0.3 g, Tween 80 0.5 g, 10 mM acetic acid buffer pH 4.5, culture volume 130 mL, rotation speed 200 rpm. The highest yield of ligninolytic activity was obtained when fungi were grown in this modified medium at 30 0C for 8 days. Under the optimized experimental condition for growing the fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium in Kirks’ medium for up to 2 weeks, 13% of the lignin was produced from the lignocellulosic biomass of the sawdust. Both lignin LiP and MnP were detected in the liquid culture. Acetone precipitation and salt precipitation methods were used to attempt the extraction and purification processes. Result shows that salt precipitation with 60% (NH 4) 2SO 4 yielded the best result, especially toward LiP. Enzymes separation was conducted with Sephadex G25 desalting column and QFF ion exchange column, sequentially. Compared to the original (crude) state in liquid culture, the LiP was purified by 7.2 fold. The yield of total LiP was 53.3%, i.e., 13 mg/Liter of liquid culture.

Key words: lignase; Phanerochaete chrysosporium; lignin peroxidase; manganese peroxidase

Acknowledgement: This research was supported by Department of Energy, MTA/SBI program Grant #DE-FG36-05G085002 with subcontract #07-08-001 from University of Mississippi to JSU.

2nd PLACE WINNER AND RECIPIENT OF $200 AWARD: Teresa Demeritte and Team



Teresa Demeritte 1, Jeffrey Thorn 1, Maria Begonia 2, Huey-Min Hwang 2 and Ken S. Lee 1

1 Department of Chemistry, Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi

2 Department of Biology, Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi


Green chemistry has received a great deal of attention from chemists and environmentalists since it reduces the usage of hazardous materials in the chemical process. One development in green chemistry is to substitute the volatile organic solvents with ionic liquids to reduce VOC. Some ionic liquids can dissolve cellulose in higher temperature, and the phase of cellulose can be changed easily. Therefore, we have attempted to separate the cellulosic material from lignin in soft pinewood sawdust. An ionic liquid, 1-n-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride ([C 4mim] +Cl -), was prepared from n-butyl chloride and 1-methylimidazole, and then purified. Its preparation was confirmed by 1H and 13C NMR, and was mixed with sawdust with various ratios in order to find the better condition. Sawdust was separated based upon the mesh number, and grinded for the smaller size. Direct interaction between the sawdust and the ionic liquid gave a colloidal solution after separation of the brown powder undissolved in the ionic liquid. The reaction of cellulose in the sawdust with acetic acid anhydride was attempted in the ionic liquid solution, and it gave a dark brown powder after separation and purification steps. The IR spectrum of the dark brown powder was obtained, and it shows that the absorption peak of hydroxyl group of cellulose and hemicellulose at 3400 cm -1 was reduced significantly. Instead, a new absorption peak at 1750 cm -1, due to the carbonyl groups at acetate derivatives of cellulose and hemicellulose, was observed, which means that the reaction of acetylation occurred. The study shows that the cellulose and hemicellulose can be separated from sawdust with acetylation in the ionic liquid solution.


Monty Singletary and Prashanth R. Buchireddy


Tar and Particulate Removal from a Novel Gasification Unit Using Sawdust as a Feedstock

Monty Singletary , Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi



The Mississippi Ethanol Project is a comprehensive, multi-departmental effort to develop an economical conversion of biomass (in the form of sawdust) to ethanol. This project is a continuation of a pilot scale research project for the conversion of biomass to methanol, located in Winona, MS. In order to study the system more fully, a 1/10 scale pre-pilot plant was built at Mississippi State University's Institute for Clean Energy Technology (formerly D.I.A.L.). The project utilizes a novel gasification unit, and, as such, presents a unique problem in the area of particulate and condensable hydrocarbon removal. Since the producer gas is to be treated biologically, the large quantities of these contaminants produced in the reaction must be removed almost entirely before final conversion can be performed. This poster outlines the steps that were taken to characterize these residual compounds, the potential removal technologies to be evaluated in the pre-pilot system, and the problems that have been encountered thus far in our research.

Production of Clean Synthetic Gas from Biomass Using a Downdraft Gasifier

Prashanth R. Buchireddy, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi


Biomass is considered as a potential feedstock for sustainable energy production that can be converted to chemicals, fuels, electricity etc., either by thermochemical or biological processes. Gasification is one of the thermochemical methods of converting biomass to synthetic gas (CO and H 2), which could potentially be used to produce different chemicals such as acetic acid and ethanol via chemical or biological processes and/or generate electricity by using engines, turbines, fuel cells etc. However, the synthetic gas produced may contain different organic (Tars) and inorganic impurities, which have the potential to damage the process equipment used in different conversion processes. Hence, the synthetic gas has to be cleaned to remove these impurities, and the extent to which the gas has to be cleaned is dictated by the end use application. The production of tars both in terms of quality and quantity depends on various factors such as the gasifier type, type of feedstock, moisture content of the feed, feed size, gasification conditions, atmospheric conditions etc. Therefore, additional work needs to be done that can correlate tar production in different types of gasifiers under varying operating conditions. This could help establish standard tolerance limits of tars for different end use applications.


Active research is being carried out currently at Mississippi State University that involves the biological conversion of synthetic gas to ethanol and acetic acid. The presence of tars in the synthetic gas is expected to inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Hence, the feasibility of this process would entail minimal tar content in the synthetic gas being produced. The conversion of biomass to synthetic gas is being accomplished utilizing a downdraft gasifier. The effect of different feedstocks such as hard wood and soft wood on the production of tars is being evaluated. Also, the effect of different operating parameters on the production and quality of synthetic gas is being studied. Characterization of the tars was done and the amount of tar produced was measured gravimetrically, the results of which will be presented. These results will in part will assist in selection of a suitable method for the destruction/removal/reforming of the tars produced, which will be the future course of research.

Large-Scale Electroporation

Robert McComas, Chemical Engineering Department , Mississippi State University


Electroporation is a process where a large voltage is sent across a solution of oil rich bacteria. The voltage opens up pores in the bacteria’s lipid membrane and allows the oil to be extracted. Once the oils have been extracted they are then able to be cracked into smaller alkanes that can be used as fuels. The purpose of my research is to increase the volume of this process from 10 micro liters to a larger commercial viable size. This process could one day become a renewable energy source.

Investigation of technical and economic solutions related to Energy storage and Power conditioning devices of biomass generated energy

Aarthi Asok Kumar and Anurag K. Srivastava, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mississippi State University, Starkville , Mississippi


Distributed generation is the process of connecting generating units near the loads. Generally they are of small capacities, about a few MW. DG’s use both renewable and non-renewable resources as their source of energy. The most commonly used technologies include Wind turbines, Photovoltaic, Fuel cell, Biomass powered generators. The biomass conversion technologies convert the biomass products (includes residential, agricultural and animal wastes) into electricity. These DG’s can be used for supplying local loads and also the excess energy produced by them can be supplied back to the grid. In case of DG’s whose primary source of energy are not consistent (like wind turbines), energy storage devices become essential. These devices support the DG’s by supplying peak loads. During periods of low demands these energy storage devices store energy and supply them during periods of high demand. The most commonly used storage devices are flywheels, batteries, super capacitors superconducting coils etc. With the increasing use of DG’s in power system, it becomes necessary to study the impacts of connecting it to the grid. The major impact of DG is on the stability of the power system. A lot of research has been done on the effects of DG on both the transient and steady state stability of the power system. This research aims at analyzing the impacts of DG on the transient stability with the energy storage devices connected near the DG. The project also includes determining the feasibility of using different storage devices and power conditioning devices with particular emphasis on a biomass-based DG environment. Finally the cost versus benefit of different storage devices needs to be evaluated.


Abhilash R. Masannagari and Anurag K Srivastava, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi


Distributed Generation is a new concept in the power generation and it is a small-scale generation that provides electric power at or near load centre usually up to 10 kW to 50 MW range. Distributed Generation is based on different technologies like Solar, CHP and Biomass. Mississippi has abundant resources of biomass which is energy derived from organic waste and residues. If properly planned and controlled they can be beneficial to power industry by ensuring necessary voltage support, reliability and reducing the cost of expansion. This work is to study the impacts of biomass based DG when connected to grid and various issues like stability, losses and voltage support. When Distributed Generators are connected to the grid there is an improvement in the voltage profile of the system and can cause bidirectional flow of current. The improvement of the voltage profile and stability mainly depends on the size and location of the DG, hence sizing and siting related to DG have to be dealt seriously. The IEEE 13 node test case is considered with DG’s placed on it and unbalanced power flow software is used to determine the voltage profile. Using the available tools, a stability index can be found for different locations using the same size of DG and then for different sizes using the same location. Later an objective function will be formulated to optimize the sizing and siting of DG using LINGO. Finally a multi–objective formulation will bed eveloped to minimize losses, increase voltage support and stability.

Prokaryotic Community Composition during early Decomposition of Lignocellulosic Residue

Himaya P. Mula and Mark Andrew Williams, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi


Prokaryotic community composition and diversity during decomposition of rice straw was studied as precursor to bioprospecting of potential soil microbial systems for eventual biotechnological applications for degradation of lignocellulosic biomass. A two-week incubation trial was set up for this purpose. Clone libraries of 16 S rRNA were constructed from soil incubated with rice straw, unamended soil, incubated rice straw and nonincubated rice straw. Bacterial diversity of the nonincubated rice straw was significantly different with the rest of samples tested. Similarly, prokaryotic communities from unamended soil significantly varied with that of the incubated rice straw. However, no difference was observed between the unamended and amended soils. Least number (9) of operational taxonomic units (OTU’s) was noted on nonincubated rice straw while the incubated one had 5 five times more OTU’s than the former. Results initially suggest population build up and change in prokaryotic diversity in early stage of rice straw decomposition.

The enormous diversity of prokaryotes in soil provide a great opportunity for bioprospecting of new microbial functions, but also presents challenges related to cataloging and culturing the diversity.

Biomass Gasification in a Circulating Fluidized Bed

Richard Lusk , Graduate Research Assistant, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi


Gasification as a way to produce energy and chemicals is by no means a recently developed technology. However, as the price for traditional energies continue to climb; other alternative fuel sources are beginning to play more important roles. This paper discusses the gasification of one of these alternative fuels (biomass) inside a circulating fluidized bed reactor. The basic principles of both the biomass gasification process and circulating fluidized bed technology will be presented.

Evaluation of Distributed Generation on the Mississippi Power Grid

Derrick Cherry and Noel N. Schulz, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Mississippi State University, Starkville , Mississippi


Distributed Generation (DG) is the concept of decentralizing power plants and placing smaller generating units closer to the point of consumption. While DG is not a new concept, DG is gaining widespread interest because of the following reasons: advancements in technology, deregulation, national security, environmental concerns, economics and an increase in customer expectations (reliability).


Properly evaluating the technical benefits of DG and developing adequate government and economic policies is essential to ensure fair and balanced transactions between the potential stakeholders.

Mississippi , for instance, has a wealth of renewable energy sources, specifically biomass products. These resources, given the right market conditions, technological advances and policies, are capable of providing an adequate amount of power and other benefits to the end user.

In this research project, we will evaluate and quantify the economic and technical issues associated with the implementation of distributed generation on the Mississippi power grid.

Electrokinetic Remediation of CCA Contaminated Wood

Hamza Syed, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi


CCA (Copper, Chromium, and Arsenic) contaminated wood is prevalent in industry. It is used for utility poles, boarding, and other wooden industrial equipment. There are no large scale disposal techniques for CCA contaminated wood. It cannot be disposed of in a conventional landfill due to the potential for toxins to leach into the environment. It cannot be incinerated either due to volatilization of toxins. Electrokinetic technology may be used to remove these metal contaminants from the wood. After the wood has been decontaminated it may be disposed of. Another viable option is to use this as a raw material for Pyrolysis Bio-Oil.

Power Electronics Interface of Multiple Energy Sources to Utility Grid

Shravana Musunuri and Herbert L. Ginn III, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi


Due to ever-increasing energy consumption and emissions that contribute to global warming, there is an increased demand for renewable and alternative energy sources. While various technologies like Wind, Photovoltaic (PV), Biomass, Microturbine (MT), Fuel cell (FC) etc. already exist, a need arises for the interconnection of a single or multiple energy sources to the utility at the distribution side. Since each energy source generates energy in a different way, various issues concerning the interconnection like steady-state voltage rise and harmonics, frequency variations, protection strategy, control architecture, energy storage and management arise. The efficient interconnection of these sources to achieve a reliable and safe operation is desired. The project aims to achieve this interconnection using the Power Electronic Building Block (PEBB) modular architecture and the developed system would be able to efficiently interface any energy source to the grid for the designed power range.

Woody biomass supplies and management for bioenergy in southwestern Mississippi

Gustavo Perez-Verdin, Donald Grebner, Changyou Sun, Ian Munn, Emily Schultz and Thomas Matney, Department of Forestry, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi

* NOTE: Presentation only- Non-Student- Not eligible for competition


Mississippi ’s forests cover approximately 20 million acres distributed in hardwood, softwood, or combination of both forest types. This timberland acreage represents a source of woody biomass for potential bioenergy consumption derived from three processes: (1) residues associated with the harvesting and managing of conventional forest products such as sawlogs, pulpwood, and veneer logs, in which material is often left on-site or piled and burned at an additional cost, (2) biomass generated from non-commercial thinning to improve forest health and reduce fire hazard risks, and (3) residues from mills and urban waste. Although, there are many studies in the use of woody biomass for bioenergy consumption, few have analyzed the economic feasibility of utilizing woody biomass as a feedstock to produce ethanol in the area. In this study, using the most recent forest inventory data, we estimate woody biomass supplies by species type, evaluate their availability for potential use in bioenergy facilities, and analyze the most important production costs. Preliminary results are presented for the Mississippi southwest district and conclusions are provided in the paper.


Keywords: Woody biomass, ethanol, logging residues, non-commercial thinning, economic feasibility