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MS Thesis Defense: Galen D. Moynihan



11:00am - 12:00pm ET


For info on how to attend this videoconference, please email

“Development of a Laboratory Scale System for Semi-continuous, Aseptic, and High Solids Fermentation of Lignocellulosic Substrates”


Anthropogenic climate change presents an existential crisis to humanity that cannot be addressed without significant changes to our global energy supply towards reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In order to decarbonize industries such as aviation, ocean shipping, and long-haul trucking—which are reliant on liquid fuels, and unlikely to be electrified in the near future—biofuels will be a necessary portion of the global energy mix [Lynd et al 2017]. Cellulosic ethanol is the most promising form of biofuel for large scale adoption due to the diverse, renewable, and widely available biomass that can be used as a starting substrate for the conversion process. There does not currently exist, however, a system for producing cellulosic ethanol in a sustainable way that is also inexpensive enough to compete with fossil fuels and other liquid fuels.

This thesis aims to push forward CBP research by developing a brand-new kind of system for conducting laboratory CBP fermentations under challenging, but promising conditions that were previously impossible to test. The combination of semi-continuous, aseptic, and high solids conditions operation has never been achieved in the context of CBP, but techno-economic analysis has suggested that these are industrially relevant conditions worth testing and exploring. The system created for this project was designed with an iterative process based on 3D CAD models with real sourced parts. After a nearly complete model of the system was created, fabrication began. The project required extensive metal fabrication to modify the purchased parts into their final form. Upon completion of fabrication, the system was mechanically tested and modified when necessary. As of the completion of this thesis, the system has been mechanically validated under realistic fermentation conditions and is ready to proceed with biological testing.

Thesis Committee

  • Lee R. Lynd, PhD (Chair)
  • Mark S. Laser, PhD
  • Laura E. Ray, PhD


For more information, contact Daryl Laware at