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7/3/13 - Jackson company gains MSU biocrude commercialization license

Mississippi State has granted a commercialization license to a Jackson-based company to utilize a university developed and owned technology that 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.

With plans to build the world's first commercially viable biocrude plant utilizing industrial and municipal wastewaters, the company's mission includes reducing U.S dependence on petroleum, creating quality jobs and protecting the environment.

Darryl Breland, president of Spectrum Solutions, said biocrude is the world's latest and most promising alternative energy source because it is more cost effective than any other biofuel.

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 faculty members were able to embark as entrepreneurs with Spectrum Solutions under the Mississippi University Research Authority (MURA) Act. The 1992 legislation promotes economic development in the state by linking university researchers with private sector partners to commercialize inventions, innovations and other intellectual property.

The Mississippi State University Research and Technology Corporation maintains a 5 percent equity interest in the company as part of the licensing agreement.

Bio Energy, LLC, is the parent company of Spectrum Solutions, as well as Bio Energy Yazoo, LLC, which operates a soybean crushing plant.

"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.

Interest in commercializing this technology is widespread domestically and internationally, he explained.

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.

Gerald Nelson, director of MSU's Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer, said Spectrum Solutions offers not only an excellent business model, but also is helping to meet the world's growing energy needs.

"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," Nelson said.

Allison Matthews | University Relations

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