The mission of the Laboratory is to educate students to become future engineers and scientists in the emerging field of industrial biotechnology for transforming renewable resources into value-added bioproducts. The Laboratory seeks to combine education, fundamental research, scale-up, and demonstration at industrial conditions of bioprocesses that yield low carbon footprint and value-added molecules which impact people in their daily activities. While LORRE’s work is defined through its research, its impact is based on productivity made possible by the diversity of disciplines and people that make up the Laboratory’s environment.
The Laboratory is committed to excellence in cross-disciplinary graduate student-driven research that addresses the molecular science and fundamental engineering for transforming renewable resources into products with a low carbon footprint that address markets with global impact. Underlying this work is the systematic translation of the Laboratory’s work into commercial products that will benefit both society and the university, coupled with publication of scholarly work in the appropriate refereed journals. The products of LORRE’s research are educated students, publications that communicate a deep knowledge of the Laboratory’s research areas, and prototypes (both molecular and macro-scale) that translate the Laboratory’s research into useful products.
Research in The Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering includes studies that add to our understanding of the transformation of cellulosic biomass into sugars at a molecular level. The research has evolved to encompass catalytic conversion of renewable resources using non-protein catalysts under high temperatures and/or pressures, as well as bioprocessing that utilizes biocatalysts – enzymes, and microorganisms – for transforming biomass materials into value-added molecules. The methods and the knowledge generated have found application for a broad range of products ranging from human therapeutics to high volume bioproducts.
The fundamental research platform in LORRE is organized to combine the biology and molecular biology of renewable resources with a fundamental understanding of mechanisms by which biological catalysts might be modified in order to maximize their activity and direct renewable precursors into value-added bioproducts in a highly selective manner. This knowledge has been extended to include selective catalysts for thermochemical processing. Examples include the recovery of microorganisms from food matrices in order to probe them for pathogens, the use of renewable low-carbon footprint separations media in order to fractionate value-added products from fermentations or enzyme catalyzed reactions, with minimal addition of chemicals.