Company, using MSU technology, plan biocrude production facility
by Clay Chandler
Published: July 5,2013
Mississippi State University has granted a commercialization license to a Jackson-based company for a technology developed and owned by the university.
The technology extracts oil from microorganisms.
Bio Energy Spectrum Solutions, LLC, received the exclusive right to commercialize MSU’s patented technology involving extracting biocrude from oleaginous microorganisms, which are found in wastewater treatment facilities. The microorganisms accumulate oil similar to vegetable oil or animal fat.
The company plans to build the world’s first commercially viable biocrude plant that uses industrial and municipal wastewaters.
The company is co-owned by Rafael Hernandez and Todd French, who both were Mississippi State chemical engineering faculty members and co-inventors of the technology. French remains at MSU as an associate professor, while Hernandez now is head of the chemical engineering department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Andro Mondala, an MSU senior research associate who previously completed his doctoral degree at MSU and helped develop the technology as part of his dissertation, also is a co-owner.
The project originated under the Mississippi University Research Authority (MURA) Act. The 1992 legislation was designed to spur economic development by linking university researchers with private sector partners to commercialize inventions, innovations and other intellectual property.
The Mississippi State University Research and Technology Corporation will maintain a 5 percent equity interest in the company, per the licensing agreement.
“Unlike other manufacturers of biofuels, biocrude is not made from an expensive food-based feedstock such as soy oil, corn oil or yellow grease, but is made from secondary sewage sludge, which many cities and industries would be willing to pay our company to take from them,” Breland said in a school press release.
Spectrum Solutions is in the early stages of evaluating the feasibility of implementing the biocrude production technology with several U.S. municipalities and major industries, and has started discussions with potential sub-licensees in various countries around the world.
Bio Energy, LLC, is the parent company of Spectrum Solutions, as well as Bio Energy Yazoo, LLC, which has plans for a soybean crushing plant in Yazoo City. The facility plans to sell soy meal to the poultry industry in Mississippi, and perhaps Louisiana. The soy oil will be used for the production of biodiesel when market conditions allow. If not, the oil will be sold to the food industry.
“This arrangement provides our biodiesel operation with the perfect hedge against market fluctuations that result in soy oil being too valuable to use as a biodiesel feedstock,” Breland said.
“The process is scalable and environmentally friendly, which is a great combination. MSU and the Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer are pleased to partner with Spectrum in commercializing this technology,” said Gerald Nelson, director of MSU’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer.
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