Todd Shupe Explains Hydrothermal Processing Used On Chinese Tallow Tree

todd shupeIntroduction

Biomass, including degraded and partially-transformed wastes, has residual energy that can be recovered and used for human needs. Biomass transformation into chemical feedstock, product, or mixture requires that some energy be invested into the system to 1) render the physical characteristics of the material amenable to the operating parameters of the treatment, and 2) to perform chemical reactions that provide desired end products (Catallo and Todd Shupe 2003; Catallo et al. 2004). In the many approaches to biomass conversion, these can include mechanical processing, heat, catalysts, and/or special chemicals (solvents, reactants), which can be expensive, toxic, or otherwise hazardous. Hydrothermal (HT) refers to near- and supercritical water systems (e.g., 350°–450°C, 200–500 bar) under anoxic and reducing conditions.

HT conditions are achievable in many settings, including field deployable units, modest in terms of energy required, and require abundant and recyclable materials/reactants (i.e., water and inorganic salts). HT treatments of all types of biomass (i.e., protein, cellulose, chitin, starch, DNA, bacteria cells, yeast cells, diatom cells, decommissioned preservative-treated wood wastes, grass (Spartina alterniflora), pond weeds (Lemna sp.), and municipal sewage slurry) have resulted in transformation of the bio-molecules to mixtures of gas and liquid phase aromatic and aliphatic chemicals (Catallo and Junk 2001; Catallo and Shupe 2003; Catallo et al. 2004). Previous research on HT treatment of decommissioned waste wood containing residual preservatives showed that (1) wood biomass can be transformed into useful hydrocarbon mixtures, and (2) HT conditions can be achieved that allow for recovery or destruction of residual preservative chemicals (Catallo and Shupe 2003; Catallo et al. 2004).

Chinese tallow tree

Woody crops hold great potential for biomass production (Hansen 1992). Short rotation woody crops are mainly used as a fiber source for the pulp and paper industry. According to Todd Shupe, fast-growing woody crops are also beneficial because they lessen the harvest demand on public and private forests. This is particularly important in the U.S. South because federal regulation and forest land ownership have caused a shift in fiber production from the Pacific Northwest to the South. The primary factor contributing to this shift is concern over endangered species and other possible adverse environmental impacts. (USDA FS 1997). There is a huge global demand for wood fiber. The U.S. domestic consumption of wood fiber is equivalent to the consumption of a 6-ft. (1.8-m) long 2- × 4-in. (5- × 10-cm) piece of lumber per person per day. Globally, this consumption is equivalent to 2-ft. (0.6-m) of a 2- × 4-in. (5- ×10-m) piece of lumber per person per day (McLain 2001). Coincident with the increased demand for wood products, a major change has occurred in the species composition of the forests of the southeastern U.S. In particular, Chinese tallow tree (Triadica sebifera [syn. Sapium sebiferum]) is widespread and noxious (USDA NRCS 2004). The species is extremely well adapted to numerous environments (Conner 1994; Donovan et al. 1988; Jones and McLeod 1989; 1990), and there are no known diseases that debilitate it (Scheld et al. 1980). Also, it produces above-ground biomass at a significantly faster rate than most other tree species (Harcombe et al. 1993; Rockwood et al. 1993) and is able to establish a dense stand quickly.

As a result of its inherent chemical properties and its proliferation in the landscape, tallow tree is an excellent candidate for biomass conversion using HT treatment. The objective of this research was to examine the potential of Chinese tallow trees for HT chemical conversion. The goals included (1) product chemical analysis and comparison of HT-treated ground leaves, bark, and whole seeds; (2) identification of structural and ultra structural features of HT-treated versus untreated whole seeds (effect of substrate surface area size on products); and (3) an evaluation
of the energy value btu/lb (J/kg) of untreated seeds as compared to the seeds following HT treatment.


This work explored the potential of Chinese tallow tree (wood/bark, leaves, and seeds) as a raw material for bio-based chemical and energy production using hydrothermal (HT) conversion. Seeds were HT-treated in the whole and ground states. Ground wood/bark, leaves, and seeds yielded similar aromatic compound assemblages after HT treatment. Ground seeds yielded unique minor by-products and did not contain naphthalene, which was present in the other tissue types. Whole HT-treated seeds yielded a material that resembled asphalt in appearance, odor, and chemical properties but did not produce any phenol. In contrast, ground seeds did not yield any particulate matter and had substantial amounts of phenol. In terms of elemental analysis of the ground and whole seed HT samples, the residues had increased C:H weight ratios. With regards to the energy input/output of this work, the HT treatment had a fairly neutral effect on energy content of the tallow seeds. The energy values of the tallow seeds are much higher than those typically reported for hardwood stemwood.

Condensed from: Todd Shupe, T.F. and W.J. Catallo. 2006. Wood Fiber Sci. 38(1)55-63.

Todd Shupe Explores Frequently-Asked Question: ‘Are Wood Preservatives Safe?’

todd shupe lsuI have worked on wood durability R&D for over 20 years and one of the more frequent questions I receive from the public regards safety. The public is interested in two-fold safety: The first, “Is this product safe for myself and my children?” and the second, “Is this product safe for the environment?” The EPA has always been concerned with wood preservative safety and all preservatives must carry an EPA label. The labeling process is lengthy, expensive and includes a wide array of testing to determine if the preservative is toxic to vertebrates, marine organisms, and the environment.

The initial concern was focused on chromated copper arsenate (CCA)-treated wood. In 1998, the Florida Center for Solid & Hazardous Waste Management (FCSHWM) sponsored CCA research at the University of Florida and the University of Miami. The following year, arsenic was discovered in the soil at a Gainesville, Florida-area elementary school playground. This discovery led to several newspaper articles throughout Florida and eventually in USA Today.

“In 2001, the treated wood industry agreed to new voluntary warning labels on CCA-treated wood,” Todd Shupe, LSU’s former wood sciences lab leader who is also an authority on the subject, said recently. The environmental group Beyond Pesticides, Communication Workers of America, BANCCA.ORG and others joined together to sue the EPA to ban all forms of toxic treated wood, including creosote, pentachlorophenol and CCA treated wood in 2002. Their efforts were unsuccessful. The controversy came to a head when the EPA announced the finalization of the voluntary ban on residential uses of CCA, to take effect on Dec. 31, 2003. “It should be noted that the EPA did not require or suggest that any existing structures, including children’s playground equipment, should be removed from service. CCA continues to be used for non-residential uses such as poles, pilings, and posts,” Todd Shupe said.

My experience has shown me that CCA is a cost-effective effective with excellent efficacy against most organisms with the exception of mold fungi – which do not impact the structural integrity of a wood member. The metals in CCA-treated wood are generally resistant to leaching when the wood is placed in service. The leach-resistance of CCA is a result of the chemical “fixation” reactions that occur to render the toxic ingredients insoluble in water. The fixation of CCA is a complex process, but the essence of CCA fixation is the reduction of chromium from the hexavalent to the trivalent state, and the subsequent precipitation or adsorption of chromium, copper and arsenic complexes in the wood substrate. Some of the these reactions, such as the adsorption of copper and chromium onto wood components, occur within minutes or hours while others are completed during the ensuing days or weeks.

The length of time needed for fixation is greatly dependent on temperature, and the reactions may proceed slowly when the treated wood is stored out-doors in cool weather. So, yes, Todd Shupe believes that CCA is safe for people and the environment and is a much better environmental choice than steel or concrete.

Todd Shupe’s Take On Christian Leadership at Home

todd shupe lsuMen have been appointed by God as the head of the home. I understand that many women find this troubling and the Bible is full of stories of courageous women that have served the body of Christ. The truth is that many men have done a terrible job of leading their house in any capacity, particularly spiritually. Many men are not even physically present in the home or if so, they do not recognize Jesus as their Lord and savior and will not even attend church on Sunday.

“A real man should be a provider. He provides identify to his family. It is his responsibility to let children know that they belong,” says Todd Shupe, who has spent years serving Christian ministries and helping groups in need.

According to LSU’s Todd Shupe, where he was previously a wood sciences lab director, a man who is also head of household gives direction and also serves as the spiritual head of the family. A man should also be a protector. This is not simply physically protecting the family from harm, but also setting boundaries to safeguard the family from evil. The man is the professor of the family. He professes over the family and professes his faith.  He teaches life skills to children on how to endure hardship and builds up their confidence.  A real man will teach his son how to respect and love women. Finally, according to Todd Shupe, a man is the priest of his house. He is called to be the spiritual leader in the family. The grandfather should always be the priest at a family fathering. This means leading the family in prayer, scripture and blessing his children and grandchildren.

St. Paul detailed his instructions for Christian households in Ephesians 5:21-33.

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

“I feel that this scripture has often been taken out of context and has been used to make wives feel subordinate to women,” comments Todd Shupe, whose LSU wood sciences lab was responsible for wood science research and product development. “God has indeed appointed men as the head of the house but that does not make women subservient.”

God wants husbands to “love your wives as Christ loved the church.”  I had a woman tell me recently, “if my husband were to love me as Christ loved the church, then I could submit to that all day long.” What I heard from this woman is that her husband is not honoring her. Honor is critical for a marriage and it must be freely given by both.  Husbands must love their wives “as they love their own bodies.” A husband who is not loving his wife is not loving himself because upon marriage, “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” So, if your wife has a problem, you have a problem. If she needs love, you need love, says Todd Shupe.

Marriage is a Holy Sacrament from God and every Christian marriage contains a husband, wife, and God. The husband must respect his wife but he must show her and his family that his primary responsibility is to God. When anything or anyone else becomes our primary focus, we are worshipping a false god and not adhering to the first Commandment in Exodus 20.

Husbands: you have been given much responsibility, says LSU’s Todd Shupe. “I urge you to recall the words of Luke 12:48, ‘to whom much is given, much will be required.’” You will be held accountable for your leadership of your house. In order to lead like Jesus, you must be a servant like Jesus.  A wife is to be honored, respected, and loved.  I want every husband when he joins the cloud of witnesses to be greeted by “well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

Todd Shupe Explores ‘Sheep and Goats’ Passage, Significance

todd shupe lsuI have talked to many Christians who believe they are destined for heaven because they have been a good person, attended church, contributed money and even helped their neighbor a few times and participated in committee meetings at church. They are essentially saying that they have “earned” their way into heaven. They may admit to believing in some sort of “higher power” and call themselves “spiritual.” They may even know some scripture regarding God’s love and the miracles performed by Jesus. “My heart goes out to these people because they are deceived,” Christian ministries volunteer Todd Shupe said recently.

This notion that Jesus will accept everybody into heaven is false. On Earth, He calls us into a relationship with him. He offers his yoke to carry our burden. He offers the living water from Jacob’s well. “He even offered his own body for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus told us that no one comes to the Father except through Him,” former LSU wood sciences lab instructor Todd Shupe said.

The Bible instructs us in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” I believe the life that He is referring to is a life in Christ in which He dwells in us and we in Him. We no longer seek earthly pleasures but rather seek to build His kingdom on earth.  We find a peace that surpasses all understanding and are content in all circumstances.  To truly accept Jesus we are called to “die to self.”  This means our old self-centered desires are gone and we now have an outward focus to our desires, commented Todd Shupe. “We are seeking His face and acting as His hands and feet,” he said.

In my opinion, the heart of the Gospel is Matthew 25. This contains three parables and all are warnings to us. The last parable is that of “The Sheep and the Goats.”  This parable is rarely preached in church, but is essential for those seeking to enter His kingdom. Some may argue that all they have to do is proclaim their allegiance to God as Paul writes to the Romans in 10:9, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Paul is correct that we must confess our belief in God to be saved. As a “saved” person we do not have automatic access to Heaven.  Please consider James 2:14-17: What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

Now, some of you may be thinking, “I thought that we could not earn our way into heaven.” That is exactly correct, says LSU’s Todd Shupe.  Your good deeds for your church and neighbor will not earn your way into heaven. Heaven is reserved for those that (1) have accepted Jesus as their Lord and (2) have headed His call to feed His sheep.  Jesus told his disciples in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We know from scripture that God is love so if we love one another we truly have the Holy Spirit in us and are living in Christ. We feed the poor, clothe the naked, and visit the imprisoned not to curry favor with God but as a natural manifestation of our love for Christ and therefore our love for our fellow man.

Next is the heart of the gospel and Todd Shupe asks that you pay close attention to this passage. Listen, all of you that have ears to the parable of the sheep and the goats from Matthew 25:31-46.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?’38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’”

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’”

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”