Morgan Professor Produces Energy from Waste and Receives $100,000 Maryland Innovation Award


Morgan State University professor and lab director for the School of Engineering’s Industrial and Systems Engineering department, Dr. Seong W. Lee, and his research team are the recipients of a $100,000 Phase 1 award from the Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) to transition his CycloBurn Combustion System™ from prototype to commercialization. The innovative new system uses a proprietary methodology to produce energy from waste biomass, particularly poultry litter while protecting the environment. This marks the third Phase 1 MII Award Morgan has received to-date.

For businesses involved in the U.S. poultry industry, a number of which operate along the Chesapeake Bay in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, the CycloBurn Combustion System will provide a cost effective solution to disposing of 100 percent of produced poultry wastes by repurposing it to produce energy. The efficiency of the combustion process will not only reduce capital and operating costs associated with heating barns or providing electricity for facilities, but it also will dramatically decrease the levels of air pollution and eutrophication (e.g. high nitrogen, phosphorus) potentially going into the nation’s largest estuary system. Most farms use this waste for fertilizer or landfills, which may cause aquatic life-killing nutrients to enter the watershed.

“We are very pleased to receive this award which will allow us to continue our research on the conversion of waste biomass to energy while mitigating any negative effects on the environment,” said Dr. Lee. “Given that Maryland’s poultry farmers produce approximately 393 tons of waste per year, the Maryland Innovation Initiative recognized the potential commercial application of a full-scale system and provided us with the resources to assist in bringing it to market.”

The next step for Dr. Lee and his research team will be to validate a lab-scale prototype and provide a full-scale design for the CycloBurn system. After the fuel characterization, systematic tests, and data analysis are complete, production will begin. To supplement the MII funding for commercializing Dr. Lee’s research, the university will seek additional funding from federal agencies and other translational research economic development grants to develop this system for other applications. Additional industries that could benefit from the CycloBurn Combustion System include waste management, energy producers, co-generation industries and environmental groups.

Since 1989, Dr. Lee has made significant contributions to development of the efficient combustion process and emissions control technologies for fluidized bed combustion systems, gasification processes, design and testing of biomass and biofuel reactors, renewable energy technologies and related technologies. During his academic career, Dr. Lee has developed numerous research proposals, in addition to several outreach and joint educational programs. Dr. Lee joined the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department at Morgan in 1991.

Created by the General Assembly and administered by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), MII promotes the commercialization of research conducted by the five qualifying Maryland universities. The initiative encourages these universities to partner on commercialization proposals, strategies, and funding sources. The MII program facilitates technology transfer from university labs to start-up companies and boosts economic development in the state of Maryland. The MII program has successfully incentivized faculty at Morgan to develop entrepreneurial proposals to bring their research to market, and for the University to develop a robust intellectual property portfolio as a springboard for economic development in Baltimore City.