Tom Richard


Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Bioenergy and Bioresource Engineering


  • Sustainability & Environment
  • Agriculture
  • Earth Science

Focus Areas:

In The Media:


  • Richard's areas of expertise include lignocellulosic biomass conversion, bioenergy, manure conversion and sustainable agriculture
  • Current sponsors include the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture

Tom Richard is a professor of agricultural and biological engineering bioenergy and bio resource engineering. Richard’s work applies fundamental engineering science to microbial ecosystems, developing innovative strategies for a more sustainable agriculture and emerging bio-based economy.

A particular emphasis in Richard’s research is on microbial processes that occur in three-phase porous media, where solid, liquid, and gas phases all play critical roles. These porous media systems are referred to variously as: solid-state fermentation in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and food processing industries; composting in the manure management and solid waste realms; ensilage on dairy and beef cattle farms; and soils in agroecosystems. The complexity of these systems lies not only in their immediate physical, chemical and biological dimensions, but also in the human and natural systems within which they are embedded.

In The Media

Berks cheesemakers explore ways to turn whey into dough

from Reading Eagle October 2, 2018

"Whey as biofuel: 'Fermentation of whey to ethanol is more expensive than corn ethanol, even though the feedstock is a 'free' milk processing byproduct,' says professor Tom Richard, director of Penn State's Institutes of Energy and the Environment."

"Indeed, natural gas production is viewed as a step in the right direction for the environment, said Tom Richard, professor of agricultural and biological engineering and director of Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment. 'The current proposed regulations for electricity — carbon emission reductions, the Clean Power Plan — those are fairly easily met in Pennsylvania by shifting … from coal to natural gas without any significant increase in renewables,' Richard said."

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