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Cellulosic Revelation

Sept 2017  | BIOFUELS JOURNAL

Snippet of Biofuels Journal cover, Second Quarter 2017Researchers at Washington State University Tri-Cities and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington have discovered that newly combined spectroscopy processes can reveal the differences between the inside and the outside of the molecular structure of cellulosic biomass.

view pdf of article in Biofuels Journal]

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CSANR, BSE researchers seek sites to grow tomorrow’s produce

Chad Kruger, director of CSANR; Claudio Stöckle, Biological Systems Engineering professor; and Kirti Rajagopalan, assistant research professor with CSANR,Thanks to a changing climate, production of fruits and vegetables may be more challenging in some regions of the country in the future.

To help ensure tomorrow’s fruits and vegetables, researchers with the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) and Department of Biological Systems Engineering are on a four-year, $3.4 million research project to find more places to grow produce, led by the University of Florida.

At WSU, Chad Kruger, director of CSANR; Claudio Stöckle, Biological Systems Engineering professor; and Kirti Rajagopalan, assistant research professor with CSANR, received more than $490,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“The fruit and vegetable industries make very significant investments in infrastructure and logistics to produce, process, pack and distribute products,” said Kruger. “Having better information to understand future risks to these investments is critical to the sustainability of fruit and vegetable production in the U.S.”

“The Pacific Northwest has growing advantages and opportunities that we want to explore,” added Rajagopalan. “We’re excited to help chart new strategies to sustain the fruit and vegetable value chain, while maintaining our nutritious, reliable and environmentally-sound food supply.”

WSU Faculty, Dr. Lav Khot, Presents at 2017 APS Annual Meeting in San Antonio

Dr. Lav R. Khot
State-of-the-art on Sensing Technologies for Plant Disease Detection

Lav Khot, Assistant Professor,
Department of Biological Systems Engineering
IAREC, Washington State University

APS Annual Meeting 2017 website headerBrief description: Site-specific disease detection is one of the key aspects of effective crop (loss) management. Recent advances in detectors (optical, chemical) have improved feasibility of development and use of rapid non-contact/nondestructive sensing techniques in plant diseases detection. Advances in versatile ground-, aerial-platforms, and internet of things (IOT)-enabled data acquisition, in-field onboard processing, and near-real-time delivery techniques have also helped in easing logical concerns, about time and labor, of field level crop scouting. This talk will thus focus on state-of-the art in the field of chemical and optical sensors, platforms (e.g. small and mid-sized unmanned aerial systems), and IOT based technologies that could be an aid in rapid disease detection. Through case studies in specialty crops, the talk will discuss the feasibility of the technology in field level disease detection as well as challenges that need further research before its commercial use.

[ more information about the Annual Meeting ]

 

Biological Systems Engineering supports international meeting

50 graduate students and faculty members representing the Department of Biological Systems Engineering in SpokaneNearly 50 graduate students and faculty members represented the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at the Annual International Meeting (AIM) of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), held July 16-19 in Spokane.

Thirty-four BSE graduate students volunteered at the meeting, which was coordinated by Jonathan Lomber, BSE Scientific Laboratory Manager.

Attended by more than 1,700 students and professionals, the meeting helps expand awareness of current industry trends, promote and acknowledge innovations in design and technology, and provide opportunities for professional development.

Qin Zhang, BSE professor and director of the Center for Precision & Automated Agricultural Systems (CPAAS), received the John Deere Gold Medal Award in recognition of his engineering contributions. Two BSE graduate students were recognized for excellence in conduct and presentation of agricultural and biological engineering research, receiving the Boyd-Scott Graduate Research Awards. The competition includes a written competition and an oral presentation for the top three finalists in the masters and doctoral categories.

Abhisesh Silwal, advised by Manoj Karkee, received second place in the doctoral student category for his presentation, “Design, Integration, and Field Evaluation of a Robotic Apple Harvester.” Chongyuan Zhang, advised by Sindhuja Sankaran, received third place in the master’s student category for his presentation, “Development of Automated High-throughput Phenotyping System for Controlled Environment Studies.”

BSE leads workshops on graduate education, collaborations

Prior to the ASABE Annual International Meeting, BSE led a workshop to promote graduate education and research. Chairs of peer departments from Iowa State University, Purdue University, Cornell University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Illinois participated in this brainstorming workshop. Representatives from ASABE and USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) program leaders also took part.

Following the ASABE conference, BSE hosted a forum to highlight its ongoing advanced research and encourage international collaborations. In addition to USDA-NIFA program leader, Hongda Chen, research experts from China, Spain, Ireland, Brazil, and Mexico, took part.

BSysE 512 – Poster Competition Awards

On behalf of Dr. Wu and Dr. Tang, we would like to congratulate the winners of the BSysE 512 – Poster Competition.

1st Place: Yaqoob Majeed – “Mechanical/Automatic Solution for Labor Intensive Branch Training in Trellis Trained Apple Trees”

2nd Place: Momtanu Chakraborty – “Evaluation of Vineyard Growth Using NIR and Thermal Images under Different Irrigation Treatments”

3rd Place: Santosh Bhusal – “Bird Deterrence in Fruit Crops Using Unmanned Aerial Systems(UAS)” and Evan Terrell – “Primary Reactions in Pyrolysis of Milled Wood Lignin: The Effect of Vacuum on Product Distributions”

Honorable Mentions: Kapil Khanal – “Red Raspberry Cane Identification Using Spectral Signature” and Lin Chen – “A Prototype of Leveling System for Weeding Robot”

WSU Research Gets Closer to Cost-Effective BioFuels

June 5, 2017 | ENVIRONMENTAL MOLECULAR SCIENCES LABORATORY  [ full article ]

June 6, 2017 | PHYS.ORG [ full article ]

Molecular-level understanding of cellulose structure reveals why it resists degradation and could lead to cost-effective biofuels.

A major bottleneck hindering cost-effective production of biofuels and many valuable chemicals is the difficulty of breaking down cellulose—an important structural component of plant cell walls. A recent study addressed this problem by characterizing molecular features that make cellulose resistant to degradation.

 

 

WSU Tri-Cities team earns CleanTech Big Picture prize at UW business competition

May 26, 2017 | by Maegan Murray

WSU Tri-Cities Lignin Biotech team

RICHLAND, Wash. – A team from Washington State University Tri-Cities took home the Wells Fargo “CleanTech” Big Picture prize during the University of Washington’s Business Plan Competition this week.

With the award, the team, which includes Libing Zhang, a recent doctoral alumna, and Manuel Seubert and Taylor Pate, who are master’s in business administration students, was presented with a $5,000 check.

“We believe that we performed very well,” Zhang said. “We received extremely positive feedback regarding our business plan and presentation. Each team had a great product and were very convincing. We felt fortunate to be a part of it all.”

[ full article ]

WSU Tri-Cities team in UW business competition ‘sweet 16’

April 28, 2017   |  WSU News

RICHLAND, Wash. – A team from Washington State University Tri-Cities whose business plan is to commercialize a WSU-patented jet fuel technology has advanced to the University of Washington Business Plan Competition’s “sweet 16” round.

The sweet 16 round of the UW Business Plan Competition kicks off May 25.

full article on WSU News ]

 

Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge

April 3, 2017  |  WSU News

Manuel Seubert, master’s of business administration student, and Libing Zhang, postdoctoral researcher standing at table with presentation postersRICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities technology and a business plan for converting the plant material lignin into biojet fuel won third place among 21 teams at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge finals last week.

The team of Libing Zhang, postdoctoral researcher, and Manuel Seubert, master’s of business administration student, worked regularly with researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to prepare for the competition. They won the Starbucks $5,000 prize.

[ full article at WSU News ]