MDA officials present a large check for $5,000 to winners of the V-Quad competition.
Mississippi Development Authority representatives current a test to MSU’s Jilei Zhang following the inaugural “Pitch in the V-Quad” competition. Pictured, from left, is MDA Director of Business Research and Workforce Development Bill Ashley; MDA Director of Energy and Natural Resources Sumesh Arora; MSU Warren S. Thompson Professor of Wood Science and Technology Jilei Zhang; and MDA Director of Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Joe Donovan (Photo courtesy of MDA)

Contact: Vanessa Beeson

STARKVILLE, Miss—For a workforce of Mississippi State researchers, concrete design isn’t set in stone.

Jilei Zhang, Warren S. Thompson Professor of Wood Science and Technology, and a workforce of MSU Department of Sustainable Bioproducts researchers have rethought the materials’s design and cemented their product’s standing by taking part in the Mississippi Development Authority’s inaugural V-Quad competition, a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored initiative to spice up innovation in the state’s power and agriculture sectors. Last month, Zhang’s workforce gained $7,500 throughout the “Pitch in the V-Quad” competition along with his patented know-how utilizing bio-based waster materials to supply graphene for concrete manufacturing.

The workforce’s winnings, supported by the DoE’s Energy Program for Innovations Clusters prize, might be used for the workforce to finish an industrial scale trial run with a Columbus-based masonry producer to conduct utilization, testing and certification of the product on a industrial scale.

The catalytic thermal conversion course of makes biomass-graphene utilizing the authentic polymer lignin as a carbon supply. The know-how avoids the use of harsh chemical substances and might probably cut back cement utilization in concrete manufacturing by as much as 20 %. Cement manufacturing alone contributes to eight % of world carbon emissions yearly. The know-how considerably lowers manufacturing prices, improves energy and reduces the materials’s carbon footprint.

“The idea is to reduce cement consumption in concrete while maintaining or improving its strength. By replacing a portion of cement with graphene, we can save money while reducing the carbon footprint. We use graphene—a high tech, advanced material—to solve a traditional problem. Meanwhile, we use traditional material—biomass waste from the paper industry—to create the high-tech material. We’re taking waste, reducing what would be traditional mining of graphene and solving the problem of the environmentally-intensive production of concrete,” Zhang stated.  

The workforce obtained a $5,000 Stage 1 Venture Development Grant this spring, in addition to entry to a 10-week V-Quad accelerator coaching course, whereas MDA offered mentoring and market evaluation as the workforce accomplished a enterprise improvement report. The preliminary grant helped researchers validate the know-how in a lab trial.

Sumesh Arora, director of MDA’s Energy and Natural Resources Division and V-Quad workforce co-leader, stated the program promotes collaboration between analysis universities like MSU and the private and non-private sectors.

“V-Quad is a unique opportunity for Mississippi to tie together our existing assets and create a cohesive network of exemplary stakeholders from our research universities and public and private sectors. We’re excited MDA is leading this effort to encourage new technology development in energy and agriculture. Dr. Zhang’s technology can help meet the needs of the industry on a global scale by using waste materials to improve the material properties of concrete production, while also lowering its environmental impact,” he stated.

Jeremy Clay, director of the MSU Office of Technology Management, introduced the V-Quad alternative to Zhang’s consideration and is happy to see how the second spherical of funding will additional develop the know-how.

“The proof of concept with a commercial provider is the gold standard, and if everything goes smoothly, the patented technology is ready for market. Currently, we’re actively looking for commercial partners to bring it to market,” he stated.

Clay famous that the V-Quad program is a good alternative for MSU researchers whose know-how could also be near market.

“This program helps researchers better understand the process and see if their ideas are ready for market and if not, what it takes to get there,” he stated.

In addition to Zhang, MSU researchers on the know-how embody Xuefang Zhang, assistant analysis professor, and Jason Street, affiliate professor, each in the Department of Sustainable Bioproducts in the Forest and Wildlife Research Center. Collaborators embody the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory.

To be taught extra about the Department of Sustainable Bioproducts, go to To be taught extra about licensing the know-how, contact Jeremy Clay by way of electronic mail at [email protected] or name 662-325-8222.

MSU is Mississippi’s main college, out there on-line at


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