November 11, 2017 | U.S. Dept. of Energy, Office of Science
A major bottleneck to producing cost-effective biofuels and many valuable chemicals is breaking down cellulose. Cellulose is an important structural component of plants. Scientists addressed this bottleneck by characterizing those molecular features that make cellulose resistant to degradation. The findings reveal—for the first time—structural differences between surface layers and the crystalline core of the two types of cellulose found in plant cell walls.
Biological Systems Engineering faculty members, Dr. Troy Peters, Dr. Bin Yang, and Dr. Lav Khot, recently traveled to China to collaborate with faculty, students, and scientists at the Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University in Yangling, China. This is part of an international cooperation partnership that the Department of Biological Systems Engineering Department has with this university. The primary objectives of this visit were to strengthen international exchange and cooperation with this university and encourage additional Chinese Scholarship Exchange students to come do research with WSU in the future. They met with the Dean of the College of Mechanical and Electronic Engineering, Dr. Shaojin Wang, toured the college and gave presentations to almost 200 students and faculty there. Dr. Peters gave a presentation titled “Irrigation Issues and Advances in the Pacific Northwestern United States,” Dr. Khot gave a presentation titled “Precision Agriculture of Specialty Crops,” and Dr. Yang gave a presentation titled “Overcoming the Challenges of the Next Generation of Biofuels and Bioproducts Production.” In addition, each faculty member met individually with researchers from their specific areas to discuss plans for future collaboration and exchange of ideas.
On the way home, Dr. Peters and Dr. Khot also visited Hebei University in Baoding (hosted by Dr. Yongsheng Si). They similarly met scientists and engineers there, gave presentations and discussed plans for cooperation and collaboration for future grant proposals and research.
Researchers 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.
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.
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.”
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.
RICHLAND, 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.
RICHLAND, Wash. – Researchers at Washington State University Tri-Cities and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have found a new way to define the molecular structure of cellulose, which could lead to cheaper and more efficient ways to make a variety of crucial bioproducts.
For the first time, researchers revealed the differences between the surface layers and the crystalline core of cellulose by combining spectroscopy processes that use infrared and visible laser beams to analyze the structure of molecular components. The findings appear this month in Scientific Reports, an online open-access journal produced by the Nature Publishing Group (http://www.nature.com/articles/srep44319).
December 1, 2016 | WSU News, by Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities
RICHLAND, Wash. – Researchers at Washington State University Tri-Cities have been awarded a National Science Foundation I-Corps grant to explore the market potential of their biojet fuel research.
The team has successfully demonstrated a new, water-based process for deconstructing and recovering lignin from biomass and converting it into jet fuel-range hydrocarbons. These could be certified as jet fuel in the future.
Bin Yang, WSU Tri-Cities professor of biological systems engineering and principal investigator for the grant, holds a patent on the process.
In Elmar Villota’s home country of the Philippines, as much as 15 percent of households do not have electricity. Villota, a doctoral student in biological systems engineering at Washington State University Tri-Cities, is motivated to close that gap with renewable energy.
“A simple light bulb could make a world of difference,” he said. “Without a sustainable source of electricity, students can’t have light or read comfortably at night. Imagine how much knowledge they would miss.”