Anaerobic bioprocessing of wastes

  • Improving conversion of carbon and electrons during microbial production of medium-chain carboxylic acids. We are developing methods for improving the transfer of electrons to medium-chain carboxylic acids by improving hydrogen transfer and promoting direct interspecies electron transfer. (Funding: The National Science Foundation, Vermont NASA EPSCoR)

  • Recovery of medium-chain carboxylates from microbiome-based fermentations. The EMERG lab is investigating the use of green solvents to extract medium-chain carboxylic acids from fermentation broth. In addition to extracting the final product for refining, these processes also reduce the toxic effects of the end-products. We also explore the use of solvent toxicity as a selective pressure to control microbiome composition. (Funding: The National Science Foundation, The United States Department of Agriculture )

  • Production of propane from agricultural wastes. Propane is a primary heating fuel in rural parts of the United States where natural gas infrastructure is not available. In this project, we explore the combination of biological and photocatalytic processes to generate propane from organic waste feedstocks. (Funding: The United States Department of Agriculture)

  • Incorporating food waste biorefining into sustainable bioeconomies. States across the US are implementing bans on the landfilling of food wastes. The State of Vermont implemented a ban on landfilling food waste in 2019. We are exploring the role of food waste in a circular bioeconomy to produce fuels and chemicals for agricultural and industrial processes. In addition to the benefits of providing more carbon and electrons, we are also investigating how nutrients and microplastics from food waste can be managed. (Funding: The Environmental Protection Agency)

  • Resource recovery and sustainable management of dairy wastes. We're assessing novel bioreactor technologies and nature-based solutions for treating dairy wastes. (Funding: Agrimark/ Cabot)

  • Anaerobic digestion of agricultural residues. The EMERG lab explores ways to maximize methane production from agricultural wastes while optimizing the production of residual products, including fertilizers and bedding. This work centers on full-scale agricultural digesters (Funding: The University of Vermont College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences)