Date of Award


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Paper Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Ellsworth H. Shriver

Second Advisor

Dr. Roman Rabiej


The objective of this Senior Thesis Project was to determine if thermophilic (heat loving) bacteria are capable of producing enzymes to break down lignin. Currently known ligninases produced by white-rot fungi are destroyed by high temperatures, and are only useful for pre-treatments in refiner mechanical pulping. Thermophilic lignin-degrading enzymes could potentially be useful in a high temperature pulping process.

Milled wood lignin was isolated from birch to be used in bacterial cultures. The lignin would serve as the only source of carbon for the bacteria, so their growth would depend on their ability to utilize the lignin for food. Standard cultures containing glucose as a carbon source were used to determine if the bacteria could grow in our apparatus.

After several attempts, it became clear that our methods could not determine conclusively if the bacteria were growing or not. If more sophisticated techniques and equipment are used to grow thermophilic bacteria, a better understanding of their enzymatic activity can be obtained.