An innovative waste conversion technology developed at Mississippi State is moving out of the laboratory and into the marketplace, thanks to a licensing agreement between a Louisiana company and the university's Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer.

"This project holds the potential to be a successful solution to a growing problem while also bringing some positive economic benefits back to Mississippi and the Southeast," said campus licensing associate Josh Jeanson.

The patent-pending process is used to convert waste and synthesis gas to hydrocarbons and other useful products.

In the initial phase of development, Port Cates, TN-based Epurga, LLC, plans to build a commercial reactor as a way to fully understand and validate the opportunities associated with the technology. Logistical and business considerations then will be optimized for second-generation reactor and facility designs.

"The White reactor fills a need beyond green energy technology that effectively remediates longstanding waste management issues while maximizing profits for investors in the petrochemical market," said the company's Michael Harrelson.

The technology evolved from collaborative research by MSU's Sustainable Energy Research Center and the land-grant institution's chemical engineering department to find ways to recover fuel sources from municipal waste facilities.  Co-inventors Shetian Liu, a post-doctoral associate, and Mark G. White, professor emeritus in the Dave C. Swalm School of Engineering, developed the catalyst and process with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to build a sustainable technology for converting waste to energy.

White said, "This novel catalyst for converting gasified waste demonstrates the unique ability to tailor the types of liquid hydrocarbon products by making small changes in the basic catalyst design. That is, we can alter the catalyst to make either petrochemicals, gasoline or distillate, and thereby capture the most economical market at any particular time."  If commercially successful, the technology can complement other sustainable technologies while relieving some of the burden on municipal solid waste landfills, White added.

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Credit: Mississippi State University - Office of Research and Economic Development