Dr. George Philippidis

Dr. George Philippidis
Director of Sustainable Energy

(813) 974-9333

Dr. George Philippidis is Associate Professor at the Patel College of Global Sustainability (PCGS) at the University of South Florida (USF). He is a Fulbright Specialist Scholar and an expert in biofuels and bioproducts. He holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from the University of Denver. He has authored numerous publications and 11 patents in clean technologies and has developed graduate courses in renewable energy and sustainability.

Dr. Philippidis has 25 years of experience leading strategic business units in the private sector and directing applied research and development in the public sector. He started his career at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Denver before moving to Thermo Fisher Scientific in Boston, a Fortune 500 company. He then joined the Applied Research Center at Florida International University in Miami, where he created and directed the Center’s energy business.

At USF Dr. Philippidis directs applied research, scale-up, and technology commercialization in the conversion of algae and biomass to sustainable bioproducts, fuels, and power in partnership with industry. He has worked in venture capital and managed energy and environmental projects in the US and Latin America. He has advised the US State Department, the US Department of Agriculture, the US Department of Energy, the Organization of American States, and the Florida Office of Energy and is a member of the advisory board of companies.


IDS 6235 – Economics and Finance for Sustainability

IDS 6207 – Renewable Transportation Fuels

IDS 6208 – Renewable Power Portfolio


Energy production and use are strong indicators of economic prosperity and high living standards. Global energy demand is projected to grow dramatically, but at the same time the public is concerned about energy security, climate change, and environmental pollution. Clearly, our country needs policies and technologies that enhance energy conservation and promote renewable energy production from sustainable natural resources.

Given the critical nature of energy in the economy and society, we have made renewable energy R&D and education top priorities at the Patel College of Global Sustainability. We focus on technology development for biofuels (ethanol, biodiesel, and aviation fuel), bioproducts (cosmetics, nutraceuticals, aquaculture), and biopower from sustainable resources, such as algae, cellulosic biomass, and inedible vegetable oils. Moreover, we conduct research in energy policy and the integration of renewable power into the existing infrastructure.

Focus Areas

Algae Technology

Algae represent a promising source of renewable fuels and products, but with the added benefit of serving as a sink for carbon dioxide and wastewater. Using our experience in algae engineering for the production of chemicals and fuels, we use native Floridian algae strains in our lab and at outdoor facilities to test the production of algal products under real-world conditions. Algal lipids can be converted to biodiesel using transesterification or can be thermally treated to produce jet fuel for commercial airliners and military jets. Algal sugars can be used to produce numerous chemicals, whereas algal protein can serve as animal feed and fish food. Our applied research closes the gap between innovative ideas and the marketplace.

    Projects Include:Research photo
  • Design of cost-effective cultivation systems
  • Scale-up and operation of algae production systems
  • Optimization of productivity
  • Water, nutrient, and energy management
  • Co-product development
  • Intellectual property management

These technical capabilities are supplemented with business experience in assessing the economic feasibility of algal technologies and projecting the financial return to investors.

Biofuels & Bioproducts from Biomass

Research photo

Biomass is an abundant and inexpensive local resource for biorefineries designed to produce value-added products and clean power. Florida generates significant amounts of biomass annually: sugarcane bagasse and yard waste in South Florida, citrus peel and agricultural residues in Central Florida, and woody biomass in Northern Florida.

We research and optimize the conversion of various biomass species to sugars in scalable and cost-effective ways through biochemical conversion. First, biomass is pretreated using mild conditions and green chemistry principles. Then, cellulase enzymes are employed to convert cellulose to simple sugars. Those sugars can form the basis of a sustainable green economy, as they are readily convertible via fermentation (or thermochemical processing) to chemical precursors for the manufacture of biofuels, plastics, resins, films, and other renewable products. In essence, biomass can replace oil as the source of chemicals needed for consumer products.

A biorefinery pilot plant has been designed and operated in partnership with a major sugar company in Florida. It provides USF and its collaborators with unique process development and scale-up capabilities in a real-world environment.


Fuel diversification is needed for diesel and jet engines. The United States consumes 57 billion gallons of diesel, 21 billion gallons of aviation fuel, and 5 billion gallons of military fuels annually, hence depending significantly on foreign oil. Such dependence makes the United States vulnerable to political instability around the world.

We have technical and business expertise in biodiesel production with a focus on sustainable technologies and resources:

    Research photo
  • Biodiesel production using supercritical fluid technology
  • Biodiesel from inedible and used vegetable oils
  • Biodiesel from algal lipids

Production of biodiesel is conducted in batch and continuous modes.

We are available to assist entrepreneurs, companies, and communities in the production, distribution, and marketing aspects of their biodiesel business.

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