(08/03/22) Baton Rouge, La. — The Louisiana Board of Regents has awarded the LSU AgCenter Louisiana Institute for Bioproducts and Bioprocessing (LIBBi) a grant of nearly $1 million to upgrade equipment for the state-approved institute.
LIBBi and the scientists that work with it are dedicated to expanding and strengthening Louisiana’s role in developing novel bioproducts and new technologies from the state’s forestry and agricultural industries, said Qinglin Wu, professor in the AgCenter School of Renewable Natural Resources and the lead scientist on the grant.
“Louisiana has a lot of biofiber resources,” Wu said. “The wood products industry is one of the largest industries in the state, and the agricultural industry produces a lot of fibers such as sugarcane fibers.”
Wu said the institute’s work would add value to forestry and agriculture while creating sustainable products.
The LIBBi team also includes Gillian Eggleston and Giovanna Aita with the Audubon Sugar Institute; Dorin Boldor, Cristina Sabliov and Todd Monroe with the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering; and Achyut Adhikari with the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences.
Wu said researchers across the LSU campus would have access to the 12 pieces of state-of-the-art equipment tied to the grant, allowing the institute to support other programs such as engineering and chemistry. Some of the equipment includes an advanced imaging device for chemical structures, extraction devices for chemical compounds, nanomaterial fabrication and characterization equipment, and advanced tools to assist the industry with process improvement.
The scientists will build on the successes they have already had with bioproduct development. Wu is looking to create new sustainable products such as his TigerBullets-Nano, which is a plastic-free composition that prevents lost circulation in oil-drilling wells.
Work at the Audubon Sugar Institute provides the Louisiana sugar industry new tools for quality and process control in its sugar manufacturing process. Boldor is developing biomass fractionation technologies for advanced chemicals and material using microwave energy. Sabliov is using lignin, a byproduct of the paper industry, to create nanoparticles that can target fungicides to soybean seeds in an efficient and environmentally safe method.
“We are looking at more sustainable ways to replace some single-use plastics with these bioproducts, or we can use these sustainable nanofibers to build new batteries to advance energy storage materials,” Wu said.
Other research includes working with biomedical products and materials with Monroe’s team and functional foods with Adhikari’s team.
The long-term goal for this project is to develop LIBBi as a centralized facility within the LSU AgCenter and LSU Baton Rouge campus for coordinating research, teaching and technology transfer efforts in biocompounds, biopolymers, functional foods and nanomaterials from sustainable resources in Louisiana.