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Biological Systems Engineering News: Garcia-Perez

Residents Hope to Prevent Wildfire With BioChar

September 23, 2021  |   NWPB

Photo of Manuel Garcia-PérezHow Residents In The Methow Valley Are Hoping To Prevent Wildfire By Creating BioChar.

Residents in the Methow Valley are applying pyrolysis to reduce an overabundance of small-diameter trees and woody debris, which has built up over decades in the surrounding forests. Pyrolysis takes this excess biomass and heats it beyond typical combustion temperatures in a low-oxygen environment. From this, the forest fuel load is reduced and carbon from the biomass stays stored in the by-products.

Dr. Manuel Garcia-Pérez, professor in the Biological Systems Engineering and Department Chair at Washington State University, says pyrolysis would allow for taking excess carbon burning mostly on the east side of the Cascades and using it to make soil across the state more fertile. He’s excited that there are citizens who are taking action to try and address this problem in their community. Garcia-Pérez is optimistic about the potential of this technology to benefit the environment, while also being profitable through the use of its by-products, which can contribute to society in a number of ways. There’s potential for biochar to be used in asphalt and building construction.

Source: Northwest Public Broadcasting

New chair encourages discoveries in Biological Systems Engineering

July 23, 2020  |   WSU Insider

Photo of Manuel Garcia-PérezManuel Garcia-Pérez, Professor, New Chair of Biological Systems Engineering, Encourages Discoveries.

Manuel Garcia-Pérez is excited to lead faculty and students as they make discoveries for a healthy environment, renewable energy, productive and sustainable agriculture, and safe and nutritious foods. “I am a big believer in the magic of committed individuals and teams,” said Garcia Pérez, a BSE professor since 2013. Garcia-Pérez takes over as chair of BSE from Juming Tang, who has been chair for four years, on Nov. 1.

The native of Cuba came to WSU after earning degrees in Cuba and Canada, then completing post-doctoral fellowships in the state of Georgia, and in Australia. “WSU is my first job,.. 

Source: Press Release: WSU Insider

Research Corner: Dr. Manuel Garcia-Pérez

September 24, 2018  |  Pullman, WA


Dr. Manuel Garcia-PérezOur world’s dependency on fossil fuels is one of the biggest challenges facing society today. The planet’s fossil fuel reserves are declining and the side effects of extracting and using these fuels are damaging our environment. Thus, a top priority amongst researchers is finding a cleaner, sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. At Washington State University, one researcher is taking a unique approach to this global challenge. [Continue Reading on the WSU Research Page]



Read more on the WSU Research Page: Research Corner: Dr. Manuel Garcia-Pérez

WSU researchers develop material that could save honey bees

April 10, 2018 KREM 2, by Luke Morand

Researchers have developed a new material that attracts pesticide residue in bees and, when ingested, the particles absorb the pesticide toxins.

PULLMAN, Wash. — Researchers at Washington State University have developed a new material that could help save honey bees.

It is all thanks to a microscopic particle that attracts and gets rid of pesticides, according to new research.

[ read full article at ]

April 9, 2018 WSU Insider, by Scott Weybright

PULLMAN, Wash. – Honey bee colonies could be saved from collapse in the future thanks to a microscopic particle that attracts pesticides, as created by Washington State University researchers.

Consider this: A grain of salt weighs 58,500 nanograms. It takes only 15 nanograms of pesticide to kill a bee.

Researchers at Washington State University have developed a new material that attracts pesticide residue in bees. Over time, pollen tinged with itsy bitsy amounts of pesticides accumulates in a bee’s body, reducing the lifespan of each bee in a colony.

[ read full article at the ]


WSU Among the Winners

Honey Bee Health Coalition Congratulates Winners of Nutrition Competition

The Honey Bee Health Coalition announced today that it has awarded $40,000 to four innovative projects aimed at improving honey bee nutrition and supporting honey bee and pollinator health. The awards, announced today at the 2018 American Bee Research Conference, are part of the Coalition’s inaugural Bee Nutrition Challenge. [ read full article ]

Biofuel technology goes mobile

WSU On Solid Ground | June 2014

If you’ve ever enjoyed the summertime taste of fish, chicken or steak grilled over charcoal, you have benefited from pyrolysis. The very same technology that produces charcoal is also a cornerstone for making the vision of a commercial, wood-based biofuels industry in the Pacific Northwest a reality.

Scientists like Manuel Garcia-Perez and his graduate students, who study biosystems engineering at WSU, are helping to nurture the emerging biofuels industry by developing pyrolysis technologies.

Bio-Oil-ProcessThrough pyrolysis, biomass like wood, grass, and other organic material is exposed to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen. The result is bio-oil, a precursor to biofuel, as well as other useful products like charcoal, or biochar.

“The low-hanging fruit for commercializing the technology to convert biomass to energy comes from sources like construction debris, for example, that are concentrated in one location,” Garcia-Perez said. “But in cases where the biomass is spread out over a large region, as with forestry waste, transportation to a processing facility can be expensive.”

Pyrolysis road show

One solution the wood fuels industry is exploring is the development of mobile pyrolysis units, or reactors, which can process the raw material right where it’s collected in the forest before transporting the resulting bio-oil to a refinery.

Nine WSU graduate students in Garcia-Perez’s lab were invited to share their knowledge of pyrolysis and evaluate the products of two different mobile pyrolysis units developed by Amaron Energy and Western Renewable Technologies during a recent demonstration in Bingen, Washington. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources sponsored the event in order to offer the public and industry a chance to learn about the technology.

In addition to providing background and sharing information about their research projects with more than 120 visitors, the students also collected samples of the bio-oil and biochar for testing back at the lab in Pullman, Washington. How much oil versus biochar did the two units produce? What was the quality of the products, how did the two units compare in terms of pollution? They will share these answers with the Department of Natural Resources and the two companies later this year.

Students, society benefit

In one day, the students collected bio-oil and biochar samples that would otherwise take days or weeks to produce in a lab. Perhaps more valuable, however, was the opportunity for students to meet people in the industry who build pyrolysis systems as well as policymakers who are interested in how the technology might serve society.

“Because we’re usually working on our projects in the lab, it’s hard to get perspective of what the industry wants,” said Brennan Pecha, a doctoral student in Garcia-Perez’s lab. “It was really nice to get a feel for who is actually producing reactors and using research like ours.”

The mobile technology shows promise but Garcia-Perez cautions that it’s not a solution for all types of biomass and situations. Although the mobile units are much larger than those Garcia-Perez has in his lab, their size is a limiting factor for achieving an economy of scale. Another limitation is that the technology to refine bio-oil is not yet at a stage where it is ready for commercialization.

But Garcia-Perez remains hopeful. Ultimately, a wood-based biofuels industry is intended to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. And when used as a soil amendment in agriculture, biochar can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by sequestering carbon in the soil.

“Mobile pyrolysis units are not yet commercially viable and the technology to refine bio-oil is still developing, but it has the potential to be a great benefit to society,” he said.

—Sylvia Kantor

CougsCARE design team places second in Hydrogen Education Foundation Competition

Brennan Pecha (ChemE), Jacob Bair (ME), Eli Chambers (ChemE), Cale Levengood (ME), and Shi-Shen Liaw(BioSysE); members of the WSU CougsCARE team avised by Jacob Leachman, Su Ha, and Manuel Garcia-Perez took 2nd place in the annual Hydrogen Education Foundation Competition with a “Combined Heat, Hydrogen and Power (CHHP) system design for WSU using local resources.