2015 Symposium Abstracts - Biosystems Engineering

BAE-01  Engineering At The Tropics: Reclaiming Water Through Constructed Treatment Wetlands

Authors: Ronald Aguilar; Juan Rojas; Alberto Miranda; Carlos Benavides; Dawn Reinhold

Abstract: Access to clean water is essential to guarantee quality of life, though it is not appreciated such as by all. In tropical countries like Costa Rica, hydric resources are abundant, but not correctly protected. As an illustration, many agroindustry activities lack of wastewater treatments or misapply techniques to treat it. For example wastewater from livestock is land applied or simply dumped into water bodies, gravely contaminating it. Inexpensive, easy to install, operate and maintain solutions can be offered to farmers. Constructed treatment wetlands (CTWs), in temperate regions, have been successfully used to treat wastewater since 1950s and are expected to be a great promise in the tropics. With this is mind, a demonstration site with three CTW cells has been constructed and monitored in the Fabio Baudrit Experimental Station, Costa Rica. Working in series and receiving liquid anaerobic digested, a vertical flow CTW, and two free water CTWs have shown an excellent performance. Results indicate that chemical oxygen demand, total solids, volatile solids, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, pH and fecal coliforms have been reduced to concentrations that are below the maximum limits permissible by Costa Rican water Acts. In conclusion, CTWs in the tropics demonstrate that reclaim water is possible if engineered techniques are correctly apply. Further research on site will be focused on comparison of organic carbon and nitrogen removal processes for different wetland configurations, including microbial community analysis, and analysis of the contributions of plants in wetlands, with foci of nutrient cycling and clogging processes.

This work was supported in part by Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau (WHA)’s Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA)


BAE-02  Design Of A Foldable Fresnel Lens Solar Thermal Collector For Power Generation

Authors: Mauricio Bustamante Roman; Wei Liao

Abstract: The study of the geometrical parameters that influence the solar heat collection using Fresnel lens has been investigated. The relationship between the concentration ratio and the absorber area in the receiver have been delineated. Considering the Newton’s Law of cooling and the Stefan Boltzman coefficient for energy loss via convection and radiation, the absorber area represents a design criterion to balance the energy collected from solar radiation and the energy transferred to the working fluid. Three concentration ratios (CR) (256, 576, and 1000) and three square absorber areas (AB) (1.5 in, 2 in, and 2.5 in) were selected for a steady state heat transfer analysis. Built upon the relationship between lens and absorber, a novel and foldable two-axis solar collector was designed to maximize the temperature in the receiver. Results show that there was not a significant difference in temperature for the concentration ratios, obtaining an average of 600°C, 525°C, and 440 °C for the three CRs. On the other hand, temperature changes significantly, when the absorber area varies, the temperatures obtained were 600 °C, 525 °C, and 440 °C using the three ABs for a CR of 576. The appropriate combination of the concentration ratio (considering shading created as depended of the interval of movement of the two-axis tracking system) and the absorber area is an important factor to design Fresnel Lens solar power generation system.

This work was supported in part by U.S. Department of Defense Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (W912HQ-12-C-0020)


BAE-03  Woody Biomass Feedstock Harvesting From A Hybrid Poplar Plantation In Escanaba Michigan: A Case Study

Authors: Zach Carter; Fei Pan; Yingqian Lin

Abstract: Purpose-designed plantation biomass harvesting and processing equipment facilitate increases in operations productivity, but are not commercially available in general. Traditional timber harvesting equipment has been widely used over the decades and can be applied for plantation biomass harvesting when specially designed machinery is not available. The purpose of this research is to conduct a field-based case study in that utilizes a traditional commonly-used whole-tree harvesting system for energy wood plantation harvesting, so that a reference for the current woody biomass supply chain system can be provided. Productivity and cost of the selected harvesting system was evaluated through a time-motion study. Simulations were conducted to test system production rates under the circumstances when the traditional system is designated to follow a certain harvesting pattern and when harvested biomass is immediately processed into wood chips without field drying. An energy analysis was also performed to estimate the fossil fuel inputs from the supply chain versus outputs produced from the woody biomass and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the supply chain.


BAE-04  Observation Method Of Hydraulic Flow With Different Organic Loadings On A Drain Field

Authors: Younsuk Dong; Steven Safferman

Abstract: A drain field is widely used in on-site sanitary wastewater treatment systems to treat contaminants such as pathogens, nutrients, and carbon. This unit, associated with onsite wastewater disposal, uses microbial, physical, and chemical mechanisms. Failure of a drain field is caused by biomat growth or plugging with fats, oils, and grease. The biomat is composed of anaerobic microorganisms that stick to the soil and result in surface overflow and odor problems. Eventually, a drain field will clogg over time. High strength of organic loading will result premature aging of a drain field as it will increase the rate of biomat growth which will restrict the flow. To investigate, simulated drain fields were constructed with moisture sensors to determine if a biomat or solid is forming and preventing flow through the soil. All dimensions of the bench scale soil trench refer to the Michigan criteria for subsurface sewage disposal. Six CS616 volumetric water content sensors were placed at two depths. A CR 1000 datalogger and CS 616 volumetric water content from Campbell scientific were used for data collection Five conditions are being tested including wastewaters from a domestic source, fast food restaurant kitchen, a combination of both and with and a without a commercial pretreatment system.

This work was supported in part by MSU Bioeconomy Network, i6 Green Proof of Concept Center; Michigan Corporate Relations Network, Small Company Innovation Program; Sustainable Environmental Technologies


BAE-05  Lignin To Liquid Fuels Using Fast Pyrolysis And Electrocatalytic Upgrading

Authors: Mahlet Garedew; Aaron Gordon; Bruno Pasquini-Pivesso; Stephen Wilson; Leonardo Sousa; James E. Jackson; Christopher M. Saffron

Abstract: Biomass fast pyrolysis (BFP), which uses heat (400-600°C) without oxygen to convert biomass to bio-oil, biochar and combustible gas, offers an alternative to fossil fuels and a means to alleviate the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels for energy production. The major product, bio-oil, can be further upgraded to liquid hydrocarbon fuels, while biochar can serve as a solid fuel or soil amendment. The combustible gas co-product is typically burned for needed process heat. However, the most valuable of the pyrolysis products, bio-oil is highly oxygenated, corrosive, low in energy content and unstable during storage due to the hundreds of compounds that make up bio-oil. As a means of improving bio-oil properties, electrocatalytic hydrogenation (ECH) is employed to reduce and deoxygenate reactive compounds. This study particularly focuses on the electrocatalytic stabilization of compounds derived from the pyrolytic depolymerization of lignin. As lignin is a component of biomass comprising up to 30% of the mass and 40% of the energy stored in biomass, it offers great potential as feedstock for BFP. Lignin model compounds representative of bio-oil components were subjected to ECH under mild conditions (80°C and 1atm) using ruthenium on activated carbon (Ru/ACC) as a catalytic cathode. To date, model monomers (guaiacol, syringol, syringaldehyde, vanillin, p-cresol, creosol, eugenol and others) have been reduced to simpler compounds such as cyclohexanol and phenol, which have better heating values when compared to the starting substrates. Using this method, model dimers such as 4-phenoxyphenol have also been cleaved and successfully reduced to cyclohexanol and phenol

This work was supported in part by Great Lakes Bioenergy Center (GLBRC)


BAE-06  Assessment Of The Applicability Of Benford’s Law To Detection Of Data Mishandling In Wastewater Treatment Plant Self-Reported Discharge Data

Authors: Pouyan Hatami Bahman Beiglou; Jade Mitchell

Abstract: Environmental monitoring and enforcement relies extensively on regulated entities to self-report pollution discharges. One of the most important areas where this is implemented is in the enforcement of permits for discharges to water resources. The Clean Water Act mandates that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collect data from municipal wastewater treatment plants, which represent a subset of these National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) dischargers. There are cases when regulated plants might not report accurate estimates of their pollutant discharges so the potential for chemical and biological pollution as the result of fraudulence may pose both ecological and human health risk. Furthermore, the limited resources of regulatory agencies limit their capacity to assess the veracity of the data proactively so enforcement relies heavily on other means like the on-site inspection process. The development of a data driven method to evaluate self-reported discharge data is needed to support regulatory enforcement. One method for uncovering fraud and irregularities in data sets is Benford’s Law. Benford’s Law is the empirical observation that the digit 1 to 9 are not equally likely to appear as the leading digit in multi-digit numbers. The frequency of the initial digits of the numbers within these data sets is neither random nor uniform. Benford’s Law is a robust screening tool for evaluation of large data sets and has been applied to a number of environmental data streams. Small deviations of a data set from Benford’s distribution may indicate the introduction of mishandling during data processing or fraudulent reporting. This study will determine if Benford’s Law can be applied to dynamic, auto correlated and bounded parameter values characterizing reported discharges from wastewater treatment plants in one state environmental agency.


BAE-07  Tissue Specific Fractionation, Extraction And Characterization Of Energy Sorghum And The Development Of A Counter-Current Extraction And Alkaline Pretreatment For High-Titer Mixed Sugar Production

Authors: Muyang Li; Dan Williams; Guilong Yan; Lisaura Maldonado; Alicia Martinez; David Hodge

Abstract: Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench) offers much potential as a feedstock for sugar-derived biofuels or biochemical production from both extractable sugars and cell wall polysaccharides. In this work, two “energy” sorghum lines (Della and TX08001) exhibiting a combination of high biomass productivity and high sugar accumulation were evaluated for their potential for integration into an alkaline pretreatment scheme. This includes determination and comparison of cell wall composition of extractable sucrose, fructose, glucose, starch, and pectic polysaccharides as well as tissue-specific (pith parenchyma, vascular bundles, and epidermis as a function of internode) composition and the response of these fractions to enzymatic hydrolysis following either no pretreatment or mild alkaline pretreatment. Additionally, a novel approach was investigated that may be able to integrate with current diffuser-type extraction systems for sugar extraction. This includes combining counter-current sucrose extraction with mild alkaline pretreatment which yields both a clean, pretreated bagasse and a high-concentration mixed sugar. Following hydrolysis, these combined hydrolysates derived from cellulosic sugars and extractable sugars were found to be fermentable to high ethanol titers (>5%) without detoxification using a Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain metabolically engineered and evolved to ferment xylose.

This work was supported in part by NSF CBET Energy for Sustainability, NSF CBET 1336622


BAE-08  Comparing The Effect Of Product Structure On Thermal Resistance Of Salmonella Enteritidis PT30 On/In Almond And Wheat Products

Authors: Pichamon Limcharoenchat; Bradley Marks; Michael James; Nicole Hall

Abstract: Product characteristics of almond and wheat are known to affect Salmonella thermal resistances, which are important to quantify in order to ensure efficacy of pasteurization processes. Therefore, the objective was to quantify the effect of product structure on thermal resistance of Salmonella Enteritidis PT30 on/in multiple almond and wheat products. Raw almonds and whole wheat kernels were surface-inoculated with Salmonella Enteritidis PT30 (~108 CFU/g). ). All inoculated products were equilibrated to ~0.4 water activity (aw) in computer controlled-humidity chambers before raw almonds and wheat kernels were fabricated into almond meal, almond butter, wheat meal, and wheat flour by food processor. The inoculated whole almond and wheat kernels were vacuum-packaged in thin-layer plastic bags, and fabricated samples were packed in aluminum test cells (sample thickness < 1 mm), heated (in triplicate) in an isothermal water bath (80°C), pulled at multiple intervals, cooled in an ice bath, diluted in peptone water, and plated on modified tryptic soy agar to enumerate survivors. Salmonella thermal resistance (D80C) was greater (P < 0.05) on/in all the almond products than on/in the wheat products. The highest D80C values of samples was almond butter. The D80C value in wheat meal was higher (P < 0.05) than for whole wheat kernels and flour. Product structure can affect Salmonella thermal resistance; however, that effect differs by product. The high oil content in the almond products may have caused the greater resistance, as compared to the wheat products.

This work was supported in part by U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Award No. 2011-51110-30994


BAE-09  A Strategy To Optimize Woody Biomass Feedstock Storage In The Supply Chain

Authors: Yingqian Lin; Fei Pan

Abstract: Due to the greater demand in bioenergy and bio-based products, feedstock supply chain optimization is critical to control the logistics costs. As a primary phase in the biomass feedstock supply logistics, the storage of harvested biomass can directly affect biomass quality and system efficiency. A model structured with linear programming was developed to determine an optimized biomass pre-processing, storage, and transportation strategy. The optimization model was applied in a simulated case study for an energy plant in Michigan. The results indicated that lower supply chain logistics costs and higher feedstock quality could be achieved by applying an optimized supply chain strategy while simultaneously meeting the feedstock user’s demand. The sensitivity analysis indicated that transportation distance had a lower level of impact than biomass moisture content (MC) does in the total cost and determining the supply chain logistics strategy. Further studies will be conducted to quantify the benefits of energy plant using drier biomass, as well as to extend the time window of the biomass supply for the whole year.

This work was supported in part by Michigan State University


BAE-10  Integrating Electrocoagulation (EC) And Biological Routes To Convert Organic Residues Into Value-Added Chemicals

Authors: Zhiguo Liu; Wei Liao; Yan Liu

Abstract: Organic residues such as food wastes and animal manure are often treated by anaerobic digestion (AD), which is an effective biological pathway to sequester carbon, control odor, and produce energy (methane). However, the conversion of organic carbon into methane is not thorough, and AD has limitations to remove other nutrients (P and N) in the organic residues. The AD effluent is still an environmental liability that needs to be further processed. Therefore, this study developed an integrated system combining electrocoagulation (EC) and fungal fermentation on AD effluent to produce value-added chemicals of phosphorus fertilizer, chitosan, and organic acids (lactic acid, citric acid, and gluconic acid). A two-stage EC process was developed to treat the liquid AD effluent. The experimental result demonstrated that 90% COD and > 99% total phosphorous (TP) were removed from the liquid effluent, a solid phosphorus fertilizer was produced, and the water was reclaimed. The reclaimed water and solid AD digestate (rich in cellulose and hemicelluse) were mixed as the feedstock and treated by a novel co-hydrolysis process followed by fungal fermentation to produce chitosan, organic acids. Rhizopus oryzae was the fungal strain used by this study for various organic acids production. The experimental results indicated that EC solution has a positive effect on fungal fermentation in terms of accumulating chitosan-rich fungal biomass and co-producing organic acids.


BAE-11  Feasibility Of Utilizing Sugar Beet Residues To Produce Chitosan As A Value Added Product For Food And Agricultural Applications

Authors: Pat Sheridan; Yan Liu

Abstract: This project investigates the feasibility of using sugar beet pulp (SBP), a residue from sugar processing operations, to produce chitosan. Currently, the sugar beet industry in Michigan produces over 200,000 dry tons of SBP. Most of this pulp is sold as an animal feed additive, requiring high energy inputs to both dry and transport. Improving the economic potential of these pulp residues is critical to improve the economic performance of the Michigan sugar beet industry. Chitosan is a natural polymer that exhibits antifungal, antibacterial, and antivirial properties. It has the potential to be used as a natural pesticide treatment to help increase crop resistance to pathogens, and as a food additive to help improve transport, storage, and shelf life of fruits and vegetables. Outside of the food and agricultural fields, chitosan has been shown to exhibit numerous health benefits such as antitumoral and hypocholesteroliemic properties. This study focused on developing a simultaneous saccharification and fungal fermentation process on fresh SBP to produce chitosan, evaluating the pesticidial bioactivity of the chitosan product produced, and conducting an economic analysis of different production scales to technically and economically conclude the feasibility of this production system.

This work was supported in part by Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development


BAE-12  Decision Support Tool Development For Michigan Based Renewable Energy

Authors: Jason Smith; Steve Safferman; Younsuk Dong; Michael Thomas; David Binkley

Abstract: To invest or not to invest? That is quite literally the multi-million dollar question facing many communities, farmers and policy makers across the nation in regard to renewable energy technologies. With rising energy costs, increased focus on nutrient management issues, and the possibility of increased renewable energy portfolio standards, turning wastes into valuable resources is an attractive option for many farms. However one must ask; is it worth the cost and risks of start-up? Since 2009 Michigan State University researchers have been developing a number of free-to-use decision support tools that allow farmers and other business owners to assess the potential energy and economic value of available biomass for renewable energy project development. These include GIS databases of waste biomass resources in the state, decision support checklists for energy developers, and financial calculators for renewable energy projects. Previous project phases focused on mitigating financial risk to farmers when developing biomass based renewable energy projects by leveraging these tools to generate low cost decision support models. These models have helped developers Identify project barriers, locate potential project resources, and estimate price points for financial sustainability. The research group’s ongoing work aims to mine the existing biomass databases for information that will pinpoint areas where environmental benefits are maximized and can be realized for the lowest possible input costs. The goal is for policy makers to target areas that offer the greatest environmental impact with their limited funding.

This work was supported in part by Consumers Energy; MEDC


BAE-13  Multiple-Stage Cultivation To Enhance Motierella Isabellina Lipid Production From Lignocellulosic Materials

Authors: Yingkui Zhong; Yan Liu

Abstract: Our previous study indicated that a filamentous fungus Mortierella isabellina, can directly use acetate, C5 and C6 sugars in lignocellulosic hydrolysates for lipid accumulation. In this study, a multiple-stage cultivation approach was developed to further improve fungal lipid production for advanced biofuel and bioproduct production. The first stage was a nutrient rich stage, which had high biomass yield and productivity. Followed by nitrogen starvation in the second stage, the fungus can accumulate lipid as high as 60%. In the last stage, nitrogen source was added to boom the cell growth and increased the overall lipid production yield. Corn stover hydrolysate was used as the lignocellulosic carbon source for fungal fermentation, and there was no significant difference in biomass and lipid production compared to the synthetic medium cultivation. These results suggested that multiple-stage cultivation was an effective approach to accumulate fungal lipid as a feedstock for biofuel/bioproduct production.


BAE-14  A Self-Sustaining Advanced Lignocellulosic Biofuel Production By Integration Of Anaerobic Digestion And Aerobic Fungal Fermentation

Authors: Yuan Zhong; Zhenhua Ruan; Yingkui Zhong; Steven Archer; Yan Liu; Wei Liao

Abstract: High energy demand hinders the development and application of aerobic microbial biofuel production from lignocellulosic materials. In order to address this issue, this study focused on developing an integrated system including anaerobic digestion and aerobic fungal fermentation to convert corn stover, animal manure and food wastes into microbial lipids for biodiesel production. Dairy manure and food waste were first anaerobically digested to produce energy and solid digestate (AD fiber). AD fiber and corn stover were then processed by a combined alkali and acid hydrolysis, followed by fungal lipid accumulation. The integrated process can generate 1 L biodiesel and 1.9 kg methane from 12.8 kg dry dairy manure, 3.1 kg dry food wastes and 12.2 kg dry corn stover with a positive net energy of 57 MJ, which concludes a self-sustaining lignocellulosic biodiesel process and provides a new route to co-utilize corn stover and organic wastes for advanced biofuel production.