Volume II, Issue 2Spring 2010

In This Issue:

Dr. Bill Batchelor, Director
Dr. Glenn Steele, Director
Sustainable Energy Research Center
130 Creelman Street, Box 9632
Mississippi State, MS 39762
(662) 325-7938 
Other News:
Save the Date!
2010 MSU Biofuels Conference 
August 12-13
Jackson, MS
With special guest,
 Governor Haley Barbour 
Register now for the early bird rate!   
SERC receives recognition for advanced biofuels development. Read here. 

The Sustainable Energy Research Center (SERC) was established in January 2006 at Mississippi State University (MSU) through funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

SERC was formed to create an infrastructure for coordinated interdisciplinary collaboration at  MSU in the development of environmentally and economically sustainable energy sources specific to the Southeastern United States.

SERC is made up of six thrust areas of research.  These thrusts include over 80 professors  around  the university and encompass many different colleges.
For more information about our areas of research, click here.

 Article1Yeast Studies May Yield New Bio-diesel Source
 By: Kristen Dechert    
Lawrence in lab
  Dr. Mark Lawrence, microbiologist and Professor in
  the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State
  University (MSU), has teamed with Dr. Todd French,
  leader of SERC's lignocellulosic conversion thrust and
  Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at MSU, 
  to study Rhodotorula glutinis, a red-pigmented strain
  of yeast with characteristics that make it viable for
  bio-diesel production. The two MSU researchers have 
  a three-year history of collaboration.  They began
  with bacterial studies and progressed to this yeast
  work, which has been ongoing for the past year. 
  French's chemical research centers on how this yeast can utilize fat accumulation in biomass, specifically switchgrass, for extraction to make bio-diesel, and he has teamed with Lawrence for biological study of the yeast.  Lawrence's work focuses on identifying genetic pathways that control the fat accumulation in this yeast.  Identification of these pathways can allow specific gene alterations to increase the yeast's fat accumulation, and French can use this for more efficient bio-diesel production. [read more]
Article3Renewable Fuel that Supports a Carbon Neutral Cycle
 By Diane L. Godwin
 Reprinted with permission from Dimensions, the 2008-2009 Annual Report for MSU's Bagley
 College of Engineering 
Hernandez Head Shot  They've lived beneath the earth for millions of years and
  have enhanced the quality of life for generations. Fossil
  hydrocarbons are mined for making traditional fuels to
  power engines that release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the
  atmosphere. Experts assert that these emissions create
  global change by increasing the earth's overall
  temperatures, called a greenhouse gas effect. It occurs
  because the Earth's environment doesn't have enough rain
  forests and vegetation to feed on the added CO2 that is
  released. To help reduce the amount of CO2 emitted,  
  engineers invented catalytic converter technology for
  vehicles. Environmental scientists affirm that there's been significant improvement, but claim more needs to be done.
Two chemical engineering faculty members, Drs. Rafael Hernandez and Todd FrenchFrench Head Shot
have invented a process that can provide the world with clean energy just by tapping into the world's abundant supply of wastewater. They've discovered microorganisms, naturally found in wastewater, grow fat with bio-oil. The discovery means they can provide clean energy by making biocrude from the bio-oil the microorganisms produce, creating a carbon neutral environment because the microorganisms depend on CO2 to grow larger. The process could resolve some controversial issues affecting today's society by creating energy that's safe for the environment and by producing a fuel that will help America become less dependent on foreign oil. [read more]
Clearing the Air
 By Diane L. Godwin
 Reprinted with permission from Dimensions, the 2008-2009 Annual Report of MSU's Bagley   
 College of Engineering 
  It would be difficult for many to imagine a coach asking an
  Olympic sprinter to run his or her best time with
  congestion caused by a cold. However, that analogy
  becomes true and applicable to the way vehicle engines are
  designed and driven every day. Drs. Sundar Krishnan and
  Kalyan Srinivasan, assistant professors in mechanical
  engineering and researchers at the Advanced Combustion
  Engines Laboratory at the Bagley College of Engineering's
  Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS), are
  designing novel engine combustion strategies for the
  vehicles of the future that will achieve higher fuel economy and are safer for the environment.
"The biggest problem with most current gasoline engines is the throttle in the intake manifold. It's like one of us having a heavy cold and being asked to sprint up a flight of stairs," explained Srinivasan. "The throttle blocks the engine's breathing efficiency, making it have to work harder and, therefore, it burns more fuel."

The two researchers are creating innovative engine combustion concepts that move away from traditional, spark-ignited gasoline engines to a more optimized engine design that incorporates novel low temperature combustion (LTC) technology. The advantage of this technology is that it can be tailored for fuels made from biomass-forest and agricultural harvest byproducts-to enable highly efficient engines to meet performance requirements while reducing harmful exhaust emissions, thus creating cleaner air that ultimately energizes everything and everyone. [read more]
Article4Graduate Student Profile:  Andro Mondala 
Mondala  Department and Degree Seeking  
  Chemical Engineering, Ph.D. in Engineering   
  Concentration:Chemical Engineering
  Prior degree
  B.S. in Chemical Engineering, University of the 
  Philippines Los Baños, 2005       

  Please discuss your areas of specialty.

One of my areas of specialty is bioprocess engineering in tandem with environmental engineering. This involves the application of concepts of biological process design (i.e., microbial cultures, fermentation) in modifying microbial consortia in the environment that are involved in biological treatment processes to produce high-value products, such as lipids, for biofuel production. The second involves chemical analysis of the products we extract from these natural microbiota with the use of chromatographic instrumentation (gas, liquid, ion chromatography). More recently, I received training in DNA extraction and analysis techniques in order to better understand the dynamics of the composition of the wastewater microbiota at the genetic level when subjected to the fermentation process for lipid production. [read more]

Volume II, Issue 2Spring 2010

KristenWriter Profile: Kristen Dechert is the SERC technical writer.  She has a bachelor's and master's degree in English from the University of Montevallo and Mississippi State University, respectively.  In addition to working with SERC, she serves as technical writer for the Institute for Clean Energy Technology and teaches junior- and senior-level technical writing for the English department at MSU. Dechert can be reached at kcovington@english.msstate.edu.

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Sustainable Energy Research Center | 130 Creelman Street, Box 9632 | Mississippi State | MS | 39759