Making fuel from trash: Innovative MSU technology put to use in new Missouri facility

Leaders of Circular SynTech and the local government of New Madrid, Missouri, are marking the beginning of a new facility that uses technology developed by Mississippi researchers to create liquid fuels from solid waste. (Photo sent)

Contact: James Carscadon

Mark White, pictured in the laboratory of the Dave Swolm School of Chemical Engineering at MSU
Mark White, Honored Director of the Dave S. Swolm School of Chemical Engineering at MSU along with his former colleagues has developed a process to convert synthetic gas derived from solid waste into liquid fuel. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss. – The new technology, developed at the University of Mississippi, will be used at a new industrial plant that converts solid waste into liquid fuel.

Circular SynTech opened on Friday [Feb. 18] at its new recycling waste plant in New Madrid, Missouri. The company uses a patented process developed by researchers at the Dave S. Swolm School of Chemical Engineering at MSU.

Mark White, Honorary Director of the Professor, collaborated with the MSU Department of Technology Management on the licensing of Circular SynTech technology. In addition to White, the method of waste conversion was co-invented by former graduate student Sheqian Liu, MSU graduate in 2012 Samantha A. Ranavira and the late William P. Henry, a former lecturer in chemistry.

A new industry in southeastern Missouri, located along the Mississippi River, will collect solid waste from major communities and use White’s method to convert synthetic gases from waste to liquid fuel, providing a cleaner source of energy on an industrial scale.

“This groundbreaking path marks another milestone in the market for technology with enormous social benefits,” said Jeremy Clay, MSU’s Director of Technology Management. “Doctor. White worked for years to develop, patent, and ultimately license this technology for commercial use. This is an exciting achievement for everyone involved in this study, Circular SynTech, and the many people who will benefit from this new facility. ”

White served as director of the Swalm School of Chemical Engineering in 2006-2010 and a research professor at the MSU Institute of Energy from 2010-2012 until his retirement. Prior to entering MSU, he was a professor of chemical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The technology, developed by White, uses cobalt and / or molybdenum as a catalyst to convert synthetic gases generated from wastes such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid fuels.

“There are now strong incentives to replace some of the modern fuel technologies used in the energy industry with fuels derived from renewable resources such as timber and some waste streams,” White said. “We are excited to play a role in addressing one of the many challenges facing our culture in the 21st century.”

Circular SynTech plans to eventually expand facilities in Missouri and develop similar sites nationwide. For more information, visit

The MSU Department of Technology Management works on the assessment, protection and management of intellectual property (IP) developed by MSU faculty, staff and students. For more information, visit

MSU is a leading University of Mississippi, available online at

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