Awarded in 2018
Home Department: Civil & Environmental Engineering
Faculty Advisors: Craig Criddle (Civil & Environmental Engineering) and Eric Appel (Materials Science & Engineering)
Research Title: Transformation of Greenhouse Gases into Sustainable, Biodegradable Microbial Plastics
Research Description: Reducing adverse effects of plastic pollution and climate change requires transitioning away from our global fossil fuel-based economy. Safe and effective utilization of greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) is increasingly important, as they are ubiquitous and reliable sources of feedstock for bioplastic production. Type II methane oxidizing bacteria (MOB) can use CO2 and CH4 to produce environmentally-safe bioplastics. While growth substrates are widely available, current designs limit growth efficiency and pose explosion risks from mixing combustible gases. Jorge will combine the fields of environmental biotechnology and materials science to develop the innovative reactor design and process engineering required to increase safety and maximize biomaterial yield and reduce climate change effects.