Professor wins funding to scale up energy-from-waste system

By Morgan State University | June 25, 2015

Morgan State University professor and lab director for the School of Engineering’s Industrial and Systems Engineering department, Seong W. Lee, and his research team are the recipients of a $100,000 Phase 1 award from the Maryland Innovation Initiative to transition his CycloBurn Combustion System from prototype to commercialization. The innovative new system uses a proprietary methodology to produce energy from waste biomass, particularly poultry litter while protecting the environment. This marks the third Phase 1 MII Award Morgan has received to-date.

For businesses involved in the U.S. poultry industry, a number of which operate along the Chesapeake Bay in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, the CycloBurn Combustion System will provide a cost effective solution to disposing of 100 percent of produced poultry wastes by repurposing it to produce energy. The efficiency of the combustion process will not only reduce capital and operating costs associated with heating barns or providing electricity for facilities, but it also will dramatically decrease the levels of air pollution and eutrophication (e.g. high nitrogen, phosphorus) potentially going into the nation’s largest estuary system. Most farms use this waste for fertilizer or landfills, which may cause aquatic life-killing nutrients to enter the watershed.

“We are very pleased to receive this award which will allow us to continue our research on the conversion of waste biomass to energy while mitigating any negative effects on the environment,” said Lee. “Given that Maryland’s poultry farmers produce approximately 393 tons of waste per year, the Maryland Innovation Initiative recognized the potential commercial application of a full-scale system and provided us with the resources to assist in bringing it to market.”

The next step for Lee and his research team will be to validate a lab-scale prototype and provide a full-scale design for the CycloBurn system. After the fuel characterization, systematic tests, and data analysis are complete, production will begin. To supplement the MII funding for commercializing Lee’s research, the university will seek additional funding from federal agencies and other translational research economic development grants to develop this system for other applications. Additional industries that could benefit from the CycloBurn Combustion System include waste management, energy producers, co-generation industries and environmental groups.

Since 1989, Lee has made significant contributions to development of the efficient combustion process and emissions control technologies for fluidized bed combustion systems, gasification processes, design and testing of biomass and biofuel reactors, renewable energy technologies and related technologies. During his academic career, Lee has developed numerous research proposals, in addition to several outreach and joint educational programs. Lee joined the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department at Morgan in 1991.

Created by the General Assembly and administered by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, MII promotes the commercialization of research conducted by the five qualifying Maryland universities. The initiative encourages these universities to partner on commercialization proposals, strategies, and funding sources. The MII program facilitates technology transfer from university labs to start-up companies and boosts economic development in the state of Maryland. The MII program has successfully incentivized faculty at Morgan to develop entrepreneurial proposals to bring their research to market, and for the University to develop a robust intellectual property portfolio as a springboard for economic development in Baltimore City.

Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie classified doctoral research institution offering more than 60 academic programs leading to bachelor’s degrees as well as programs at the master’s and doctoral levels. As Maryland’s public urban university, Morgan serves a multi-ethnic and multi-racial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information on Morgan State University, visit www.morgan.edu.