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Sunkyu Park

Professor & University Faculty Scholar

Pulp & Paper Labs 3207


– Biorefinery and Pulp&Paper process integration (mass and energy balance) and its techno-economic analysis
– Process development for biomass biochemical treatment (pretreatment, mechanical refining, enzymatic hydrolysis)
– Process development for biomass thermal treatment (pyrolysis, torrefaction)
– Dissolving pulp characterization and application

  • 2021 ~ current Professor, North Carolina State University
  • 2017 ~ 2021 E.J. Woody Rice Associate Professor, North Carolina State University
  • 2015 ~ 2017 Associate Professor, North Carolina State University
  • 2011 ~ 2017 Adjunct Professor, Seoul National University
  • 2009 ~ 2015 Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University
  • 2006, Ph.D., Pulp and Paper, North Carolina State University
  • 2001, M.S., Pulp and Paper, Seoul National University, Korea
  • 1997, B.S., Forest Products, Seoul National University, Korea



  • FB 760 Engineering Unit Operations for Biomass Conversion
  • FB 595 Special Topic: Bioenergy Science and Engineering
  • PSE 425 Bioenergy and Biomaterials Engineering
  • PSE 417 Pulp and Paper Process Simulation

Research Interests

Growing concerns over climate change and the desire to stimulate a sustainable economy have renewed the urgency for developing substantial replacement of fossil feedstocks with renewable resources.  Chemical and other commodity industries are gradually shifting from relying on petroleum to lignocellulosic biomass as feedstocks.  To make biorefinery financially attractive, it is critically important to co-produce high-value chemicals and materials in addition to biofuel production.  This lesson is clear from the petroleum industry in which petro-based chemical production generates similar cash value to fuel production, while only ~16% of crude oil is used for chemical production.

Our research at NC State University covers a broad spectrum of biorefinery development and is focused on the fundamental understanding of lignocellulosic biomass reactivity and engineering process development for both biochemical and thermochemical conversion processes into biofuels, biochemicals, and biomaterials. Please check our publications to follow research trends.

Area(s) of Expertise

Biorefinery development for biochemical and thermochemical conversion processes into biofuels, biochemicals, and biomaterials.


View all publications 


Date: 07/01/21 - 6/30/26
Amount: $238,500.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)

Interdisciplinary Doctoral Education Program will be created to focus on Renewable Polymer production using Forest Resources to Replace Plastics. PDs from three colleges will work together to train three Ph.D. students.

Date: 06/30/20 - 12/31/24
Amount: $27,222.00
Funding Agencies: VentureWell (formerly know as National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance)

Abstract: With the inevitable coming of the Green Economy, biomass valorization, use of renewable and bio-based materials and development of high-performance, recyclable, biodegradable and biocompatible products are nowadays’ challenges and opportunities to welcome a more sustainable society. Yet, to hasten its arrival, we must answer the daunting question of how we transform these challenges to opportunities? By educating new generations of students to the multiplicity of opportunities or “multiverse” of biomass, from a scientific and engineering perspective to an entrepreneurial vision. The Department of Forest Biomaterials has decades of expertise in conversion and valorization of biomass into new fuels/energies and high-performance biomaterials that offer solutions to greenhouse gas emissions, environmental and aquatic pollution and waste accumulation.We propose to leverage our graduate curriculum by adding an entrepreneurial and business competency to its strong scientific and engineering core. Our envisioned integrated program aims at educating Master and PhD students from NC State University, and others (via an online version) by training them in the principles, practices and methodologies of biomass valorization, conversion, and usage.

Date: 11/15/18 - 11/14/23
Amount: $238,500.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)

The objective of this proposal is to develop an education program for a new generation of researchers who understand the entire spectrum of biomass oligosaccharide production, animal production, and its analysis through a life cycle approach. Faculty members from two departments are proposing to create joint doctoral education program to address this Targeted Expertise Shortage Area (Animal Production) with Relevant Disciplines of (A) Animal Science, (B) Biotechnology, and (C) Renewable Natural Resources.Five focus areas are (1) Biomass oligosaccharide production; (2) Purification of xylose oligosaccharide; (3) Manufacturing and processing of animal feed; (4) Animal feeding and management; and (5) Life cycle Analysis. This program incorporates cross-disciplinary teamwork/advising, coursework in multiple disciplines, Preparing Future Leaders program, internship at a commercial farm, and exposure to biotechnology experts in industry.

Date: 10/01/18 - 9/30/23
Amount: $1,250,807.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Energy (DOE) - Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)

The objective of this project is to demonstrate catalytic processes for upgrading carbohydrates to hydrocarbon biofuels using two low-cost wet organic waste streams: Papermaking sludge and Post-sorted municipal solid waste. The work is based on the previous success of hydrocarbon production from corn stover in a bench scale via dilute-acid and enzymatic deconstruction followed by dehydration to furans, condensation, and hydrodeoxygenation to hydrocarbons. The project team will develop (1) a sugar production process and a removal strategy of non-carbohydrates that could poison catalysts during the conversion process, (2) isomerization and dehydration processes necessary to convert both glucose and xylose to furans in a single reactor, (3) an upgrading process of furans via aldol condensation with ketone and hydrodeoxygenation to diesel range hydrocarbons, and (4) a detailed techno-economic analysis to integrate and optimize the overall process. The developed process in this project will be demonstrated in a relevant pilot-scale and life cycle assessment will be evaluated.

Date: 06/15/17 - 6/14/23
Amount: $2,750,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)

The project will prepare a diverse group of college students and high school teachers with the knowledge and interdisciplinary tools necessary to advance the future of America’s bioenergy, bioproducts, and the bioeconomy. Distance courses will be developed and taught by faculty in the Departments of Forest Biomaterials & Environmental Resources, with guidance from the College of Education, undergraduate students are recruited from historically underserved institutions (HBCU, women’s college, community college), as are teachers from rural, high poverty NC high schools. Undergraduates will complete three of the five online courses in bioenergy & bioproducts, and complete an industry internship, and earn a certificate. Bioproducts and bioenergy industrial and research organization partners provide hands-on internship projects in the industry or in a research setting. Rural high school science teachers will complete three of the five online courses, earn a certificate, participate in professional development workshops, carry out lessons with their students during the school year, and conduct a career fair in bioproducts and bioenergy.

Date: 01/01/20 - 2/21/23
Amount: $70,000.00
Funding Agencies: Cotton, Inc.

We are proposing to develop fundamental research on the effect of physico-chemical deconstruction of recycled textiles to facilitate enzymatic digestibility and optimize the production of bio-based building blocks as feedstock to manufacture value-added chemicals. This project is in the heart of the circular economy promoting the use of waste and recycled materials and thus reduce overall carbon footprint. Preliminary studies carried out by Cotton Inc. and North Carolina State University on the pre-treatment of recycled textiles show important synergy in the interaction of chemical pretreatments and mechanical defibrillation in bleached cotton textiles. In order to apply these preliminary findings to more complex textiles matrixes (i.e., dyed cotton and cotton blends with synthetic materials), it is crucial to understand the underlying mechanism affecting the enzymatic hydrolysis. Additionally, to improve the economics of the conversion process (and further reduce carbon footprint), the recyclability of residual materials (after enzymatic hydrolysis) and its possible use as feedstock in another conversion process will be considered. With the aim to develop a profitable process suitable for pilot demonstration, capital expenditure and operational costs will be monitored by conducting techno-economic assessments at the early state.

Date: 08/01/21 - 1/31/23
Amount: $549,107.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Energy (DOE) - Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)

We propose an integrated technology of low capital intensity that will capture, utilize and sequester carbon dioxide in wood pulping processes. CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) will be utilized by converting two waste streams to mineral carbonate fertilizer. The carbon in the mineral carbonates is derived from carbon dioxide generated in recovery boilers and lime kilns. Excess carbon dioxide that is not utilized as fertilizer will be pumped deep underground into suitable geological reservoirs for permanent sequestration. Retrofitting lime kilns to oxy-fuel will enable low-cost generation of high purity carbon dioxide. If fully implemented at every large chemical pulp mill in the United States, approximately 14 million metric tons of carbon dioxide will be captured, utilized, and sequestered per year.

Date: 01/01/22 - 12/31/22
Amount: $82,038.00
Funding Agencies: Siontech co., Ltd.

Development of graphite foil for water membrane application. Biomass will be graphitized, exploited, and then pressed into a foil structure. Key properties will be tensile strength, electric resistance, and thickness.

Date: 01/01/22 - 12/31/22
Amount: $87,202.00
Funding Agencies: Cotton, Inc.

The overarching goal of this project is to develop a chemical platform based on cottonseed oil to produce functional finishes for cotton apparel. We will evaluate cottonseed oil as the basis for the development of bio-based finishes as an alternative to petroleum-derived fabric finishes such as softeners, cross-linkers, and water repellents. The developed chemistry will be designed to maximize a strong affinity to a cotton substrate and not to hinder the fabric properties such as colorfastness, softness, or strength. This will provide a novel use for cottonseed oil and thus increase its value to the cotton producer and the cotton industry. Cottonseed oil (CSO) is projected to be an excellent starting material to produce softening and durable press (wrinkle resistance) finishes for cotton fibers. This is because refined cotton oil is almost completely composed of triglycerides of polyunsaturated fats (e.g., linoleic acid), which are an ideal platform for derivatization. This proposal proposes routes for converting CSO to reactive species that can be used in functional finishes along with an analytical platform to evaluate the performance of the finishes.

Date: 06/01/20 - 12/31/22
Amount: $182,614.00
Funding Agencies: Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology (KEIT)

Techno-economic analysis of biorefinery process to produce functional food/cosmetic ingredients and biocomposites.

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