Exploring New Opportunities for Biobased Chemicals and Materials


Exploring New Opportunities for Biobased Chemicals and Materials

October 17, 2019 • 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Paper Tricentennial Building, First Floor

This workshop provides an opportunity to explore current research and future trends in biobased products. Industry leaders from Corteva, FiberLean Technologies, and Prisma Renewable Composites will share their perspectives on applications and technologies for biobased chemicals and materials. Additionally, research of Georgia Tech faculty and graduate students will be presented as featured presentations and posters.

Please join us for this event which will have presentations in the morning, followed by lunch, and an interactive poster session with graduate student researchers engaged in this space.

The workshop is free, but registration is required.


Speaker Biographies

Krista Bullard
Doctoral Student, Chem - Georgia Tech


Krista is currently a 3rd year Ph.D. candidate in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at Georgia Institute of Technology. She received her B.S. in chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. While at Pitt, she conducted computational research on silyl ketene polymerization and CO2 absorption in ionic liquids with Dr. Daniel Lambrecht. During the summer of 2016, Krista received the Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship through the Department of Energy at the National Energy Technology Lab in Pittsburgh, where she did computational research of the electrochemistry of CO2 with AuNPs. In the summer of 2017, Krista worked in polymer R&D at Sherwin-Williams. She is currently a recipient of the Renewable Bioproducts Institute fellowship, and co-advised with Dr. Gutekunst and Dr. Mohan Srinivasarao with Georgia Tech’s School of Materials Science and Engineering. Krista’s current research is in the chemical modification of cellulose nanocrystals for polymer-CNC composites.


Ejaz Haque
Doctoral Student, MSE - Georgia Tech


Ejaz Haque is a 4th year PhD Candidate in the Materials Science and Engineering department at Georgia Tech. His thesis work focuses on the development of glass fiber coatings for epoxy composites that incorporate CNCs as lightweight reinforcement agents. His past studies have investigated the impact of CNC dispersant, concentration, and surface functionality on the fiber-matrix interphase with the goal of identifying optimized parameters for enhancing interfacial strength. Future work will expand on these findings by determining if they translate to scalable coating processes.


Sean P. Ireland
Vice President Business Development - FiberLean Technologies Ltd.

NanoAlchemy — Converting Nanocellulose to Gold


Sean Ireland is Vice President Business Development for FiberLean Technologies Ltd. He has over 30 years’ experience in electronics, electrical engineering and process control from the military to industrial manufacturing; however, his real desire is in growing new technologies globally through his passion and motivation. Over a decade ago, his interest shifted to the physical and surface sciences of nano-scale technologies with a focus on cellulosic nanomaterials. During the past decade, Sean has delivered multiple keynote presentations on nanotechnology to diverse audiences across the globe, striving to motivate them to work with these new materials. Additionally, Sean has been integral in working with multiple government agencies to obtain federal funding for critically needed nanocellulosics research and development.

Prior to working for FiberLean Technologies, he served in the U.S. military where he earned his officer commission and his wings. He then went on to fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Later, Sean was appointed as the Commander of the 174th Forward Operating Location (FOL) located at 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, New York, until accepting a position within the pulp and paper industry.

Over the past 20 years Sean has worked for Champion International, International Paper and Verso Paper during which he is credited with patents and applications in neural modeling, non-linear systems, control algorithms, specialty paper and coating formulations. He has authored or co-authored several technical papers on non-linear systems and nanocellulose technology and papers on the vision for nanotechnology. Sean is very active in TAPPI’s Nanotechnology and other divisions. He is currently Adjunct Professor in the School of Chemical Engineering, University of Maine, was the first Chair for the TAPPI Nano Division, is on the Scientific Advisory Board for P3Nano.


Cameron Irvin
Doctoral Student, MSE - Georgia Tech


Cameron Irvin is a 5th year Ph.D. student in the Materials Science and Engineering department at the Georgia Institute of Technology and an RBI fellow. He received is B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Techology in 2011. He currently works as a member of Dr. Meisha Shofner’s research group studying the processing of cellulose- and chitin-reinforced tricomponent polymer films, hydrogels, and aerogels. His research focuses on tuning the electrostatic interactions between cellulose- and chitin-based nanomaterials within the polymer matrix and how these high-performance composites can be applied to the packaging and biomedical industries.


Prasanth Maddipati
Fermentation Scientist - Corteva Agriscience

Sustainable Production of Crop Protection Molecules Through Fermentation


Prasanth Maddipati received his B.Tech in Industrial Biotechnology from Anna University, India, in 2006 and masters in Biosystems Engineering from the Oklahoma State University (OSU), Stillwater-Oklahoma in 2010. His research work at OSU on fermentation of biomass generated synthesis gas to produce bio-ethanol using Clostridium strain provided an excellent exposure to biofuels production, bioreactor designs, anaerobic fermentation and process scale up. His industrial career began as fermentation scientist at Genesis Biosciences, a contract manufacturing company, in Atlanta, GA in 2010. Apart from the running the production plant he did work on process development and scale-up of Bacillus fermentation from shake flask to >20000-L fermenter for existing and new strains. Prasanth joined Bioengineering and Bioprocessing R&D (BBRD) group at Dow AgroSciences (now Corteva Agriscience), in 2011 as a Biochemical engineer with major research focused on strain evaluation and process optimization for production of insecticides and fungicides at 2-L fermenter scale. Prasanth has been actively involved in identifying and evaluating micro and mini bioreactor technologies to drive the development of novel strain screening methodologies that could improve predictability and scalability of HTP generated strains in BBRD.


Pamela Peralta-Yahya
Associate Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry - Georgia Tech

Biological Conversion of Lignin to Value-Added Products


Dr. Pamela Peralta-Yahya is an Associate Professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research group works at the interface of biochemistry and chemical engineering and focuses on two research areas:

  1. The engineering of G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR)-based sensors, in particular olfactory receptors, for the detection of chemicals for biotechnology and biomedical applications.
  2. The synthesis of fuels and chemicals in biological hosts that allow their production at higher yields, titers and productivities than the natural systems.

Peralta-Yahya has won several awards including a DARPA Young Faculty Award, a DuPont Young Professor Award, a Kavli Fellowship and more recently a NIH MIRA Award.


Matthew Realff
Professor, ChBE - Georgia Tech
David Wang Senior Faculty Fellow


Dr. Matthew Realff has been at Georgia Tech since 1993, after completing his bachelor’s degree at Imperial College London and Ph.D. in chemical engineering at MIT in 1992. He was National Science Foundation (NSF) Program Director from 2005-2007 and currently serves as an NSF external expert in resilient infrastructure systems. He co-chaired the 2013 American Chemistry Society Green Chemistry Conference. In December 2013 he was appointed Associate Director of the Georgia Tech Strategic Energy Institute and in 2014 as Associate Director of the Renewable Bioproducts Institute to help develop programs in chemicals and fuels. His research interests are in process and sustainable systems engineering. He has current projects in lignocellulosic pretreatment process invention, DoE-sponsored carbon dioxide capture from flue gas streams and bio-based chemical process design sponsored by NSF.


Mike Sanford
Director of Engineering - Prisma Renewable Composites, LLC

Delivering Higher Value from Lignin


Mike Sanford has over 30 years of experience in R&D, product development and market development in polymer materials, performance composites and industrial biotechnology. After completing his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware, Mike joined DuPont as a research engineer. His early R&D work included fiber spinning, “molecular composites”, high temperature carbon fiber composites and polymer materials for orthopedic joint replacements. He held market development and product management roles in ethylene copolymers and ink jet printing before returning to technology as the technology manager for DuPont’s cellulosic ethanol biofuels business. In his cellulosic ethanol role, Mike was responsible for the development and scale up of DuPont’s complete cellulosic ethanol technology package, including development of applications for the lignin byproduct. Upon retiring from DuPont, Mike joined Prisma Renewable Composites in June of 2018, as Director of Engineering where he leads Prisma’s R&D efforts to incorporate lignin into various renewable materials.


Chinmay C. Satam
Doctoral Student, ChBE - Georgia Tech

RBI Fellowship Student Presentations — Nanocellulose Research


Chinmay Satam is a 5th year Ph.D. student in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at Georgia Institute of Technology and an RBI fellow. He received his B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from VIT University in India and went on to complete his M.S in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2011. In 2017, he also completed his M.S in Paper Science Engineering from Georgia Tech. He works in Carson Meredith’s research group on novel ways to produce sustainable barrier materials using chitin and cellulose based nanomaterials. His broad research interests include design of green bio-based materials and composites as well as process systems engineering for production of bio-based materials and green chemicals.


Meisha Shofner
Associate Professor, MSE - Georgia Tech
Interim Director - RBI


Meisha Shofner is the Interim Executive Director of the Renewable Bioproducts Institute and an Associate Professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in Materials Science from Rice University. At Georgia Tech, her research interests include structure-property and processing-performance relationships in polymer nanocomposites, processing and mechanical properties of hierarchical structures, auxetic materials and structures, and new materials development for additive manufacturing. Her research has been recognized with the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associate Universities and the Solvay Advanced Polymers Young Faculty Award.


Vladimir V. Tsukruk
Regents Professor, Dean’s Professor of Engineering, and Director of Microanalysis Center,
MSE - Georgia Tech

Robust Photonic Materials from Cellulose Nanostructures and Corresponding Nanocomposite


Vladimir V. Tsukruk is a Regents Professor, Dean’s Professor of Engineering, and Director of Microanalysis Center at the School of Materials Science and Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA. He received MS degree in physics from the National University of Ukraine, PhD and DSc degrees in polymer science from the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. He carried out his post-doctoral research at the U. Marburg, Darmstadt TU and U. Akron. He serves on the Editorial Advisory Boards of five professional journals and as an Associate Editor at ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. He has co-authored more than 480 refereed articles in archival journals and five books. He has organized ten professional symposia and has trained about 90 graduate students/post-docs.

His research in the field of nanomaterials, surfaces and interfaces, directed assembly of synthetic/natural polymers and nanostructures, biomimetic designs, and bioinspired hybrid nanomaterials has been recognized by Fulbright Award, Regents Professorship, GT Outstanding Research Author Award, Humboldt Research Award, and the National Science Foundation Special Creativity Award, among others. He is an elected Fellow of American Physical Society, Materials Research Society, and American Chemical Society.

Poster Presenters


  • Banerjee, Manali, MSE: Organogels of surface-modified cellulose nanocrystals from pharmaceutical crystallization — Blair Brettmann
  • Bullard, Krista, CHEM: Mild modification of cellulose nanocrystal surface chemistry with nucleophiles — Will Gutenkunst Mohan Srinivasarao
  • Chang, Chaoyi, ChBE: Classification of biomass reactions and model compound through machine learning — Andrew Medford
  • Chen, Junhe, MSE: Melt processible biocomposite from lignin — Donggang Yao & Yulin Deng
  • Chiang, Ya Dong, ChBE: Separation and purification of bioderived furanic molecules with metal-organic frameworks — Sankar Nair & Ryan Lively
  • Dudick, Sumner, ChBE: Fabrics with three-dimensional wetting gradients for improved dewatering — Victor Breedveld & Dennis Hess
  • Fu, Qiang, ChBE: Recovery and fractionation of organic compounds from Kraft Black Liquor — Sankar Nair & Scott Sinquefield
  • Gong, Xuejian, ME: Big-data driven predictive analytics for energy and water flow modeling in factory loading planning and optimization — Jianxin (Roger) Jiao & Nagi Gebraeel
  • Haque, Ejaz, MSE: Lightweight composites: The role of nanocellulose-based glass fiber sizing — Kyriaki Kalaitizidou & Robert Moon
  • Irvin, Cameron, MSE: Understanding the impact of cellulose-and chitin-based nanomaterials in various polymer matrix constructs — Meisha Shofner
  • Khan, Nasreen, MSE: Association of nano-cellulosic material with polyelectrolyte complexes — Blair Brettmann
  • Kim, Jinhyeun, ChBE: Machine learning methods for analysis of streaming big data to improve pulp and paper production systems — Kamran Paynabar, Fani Boukouvala & Christopher Luettgen
  • Kruyer, Nicholas, ChBE: Microbial production of adipic acid from lignin-derived monomers — Pamela Peralta-Yahya & Andreas Bommarius
  • Kunnumpuram, Jacob, ME: The effect of surface tension variation due to additives on wet pressing in paper manufacturing — Cyrus Aidun
  • Lang, Augustus, MSE: Enhanced photostability of electrochromic displays from bioderived barrier films — John Reynolds
  • Le, Luc H., ChBE: Recyclable bio-based thermostat furan epoxy networks via reversible Diels Alder crosslink — Karl Jacob & Kyriaki Kalaitzidou
  • Liao, Jianshan, ChBE: Rheological characterization of nanocellulose materials for quality control — Victor Breedveld
  • Liu, Wei, ChBE: High strength cellulose long fibers fabricated by wet-spinning of nano-cellulose fibrils — Yulin Deng
  • Paluskiewicz, Sarah, MSE: Double Edge Notch Tearing (DENT) exhibits three zones of deformation in paper at steady state — Christopher Muhlstein
  • Peng, Xirui, ME: 3D printing high-performance CNC-reinforced thermoset composites — Yulin Deng & Jerry Qi
  • Ringania, Udita, ChBE: Energy efficient nanocellulose drying using ultrasonic transducers — Saad Bhamla & Ari Gleezer
  • Ronaghi, Nima, CHEM: Utilization of carbohydrates to access higher value chemicals and fuels — Christopher Jones & Stefan France
  • Satam, Chinmay, ChBE: Chitin and cellulose blends: Structure and properties — Carson Meredith
  • Stellato, Michael, ChBE: Understanding the role of water in the deactivation of lignin upgrading catalysts — Carsten Sievers & Andreas Bommarius
  • Tricker, Andrew, ChBE: Mechanocatalytic valorization of lignin — Carsten Sievers & Matthew Realff
  • Wang, Zhongzhen, ChBE: Tunable Graphene Oxide Membranes for Energy-Efficient Black Liquor Concentration — Sankar Nair & Meisha Shofner
  • Wong, Helen, ChBE: Incorporation of cellulose-based materials onto flexible energy devices for smart packaging and the internet of things — Elsa Reichmanis, Bernard Kipplenlen & Joe Perry
  • Yu, Jiwoo, MSE: Low cost, large-scale manufacturing of cellulose-based hollow core/shell microspheres for water treatment — Zhiqun Lin
  • Zhang, Mingyue, MSE: Cellulose-based nanocomposites with ambient-light-activated biocidal properties for food packaging — Zhiqun Lin & Yulin Deng