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Researchers produce jet fuel compounds from fungus

May 5, 2015 | by Tina Hilding, Voiland College of Engineering & Architecture

Dr. Ahring with studentRICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University researchers have found a way to make jet fuel from a common black fungus found in decaying leaves, soil and rotting fruit. The researchers hope the process leads to economically viable production of aviation biofuels in the next five years. [read full article]

Global Case Competition

Six students at Washington State University were crowned champions of WSU’s Fifth Annual Global Case Competition, Friday, April 10, 2015.

The victorious group, under the name Team Verde, consists of a pair of graduate students from the WSU Spokane campus, team captain Emma Henselbecker and Sara Dumit, as well as four undergraduates from Pullman, Brandon Hernandez-Cantu, Emelia Stephan, Kimberly Rogers and Ivan Valdovinos. The faculty advisor is Grant Norton of the Honors College.

This year’s case centers on plastic waste in Manaus, Brazil with over 120 participants. Five finalist teams were selected to present their solutions to a panel of judges. Team Verde members will now have the opportunity to travel to Brazil for further study.


The second place team, Cougar Cogeneration, consisted of Sergio Baravalle (BSE), Annalise Miller (CAS, Math), Stephanie Gardiner (NURS, Nursing) and Philip Behrend (CAS, Math), and advised by Chuck Pezeshki (Voiland College of Architecture and Engineering) not pictured.

Slide 1:  Briefly, while thinking about the challenge, we wanted to make sure to involve and align the main stakeholders in the community, including the poor class, middle class and industrial sector in order to solve the serious problem of plastic waste in Manaus Brazil.

Slide 2:  Manaus is a remote area in the middle of the Amazonas that relies on expensive energy from fossil fuels to feed its growing industry sector. This situation creates a suitable environment for the development of sustainable and profitable solutions since relatively cheap raw materials are available to produce energy from non-recyclable plastic waste.

Based on that situation and leveraging on technologies and concepts in the BSE Department, we developed a solution that is technically feasible and profitable. It considers social aspects, taking scavengers out of the landfill and providing them with a sustainable income, managing a sorting facility. We also considered a sanitary program developed by a member of our team who is studying nursing.

The practical solution considers the gasification of the nonrecyclable plastic in a cogeneration plant. This plant has the capacity to produce electric power while distilling polluted water for poor people that are currently drinking contaminated water.

Slide 3:  While we were developing the project we were aware that the scope was too large for a group of students to manage. However, we wanted to consider the situation holistically, perhaps one day working with WSU as ambassadors to Brazil. Numerous resources are available at WSU to support this endeavor.

The electricity would be sold to the grid and according to our calculation and benchmarking studies, the project is profitable.

Click here to find out about past Global Case Competitions

Cuts to Manure Gas Earns Student Kudos

George NeerackalPh.D. student, George Mathew Neerackal, won 2nd place at the Ron Sheffield Memorial Student Poster competition at the Waste to Worth conference, Seattle, WA; March 30-April 03, 2015.

Poster Title: Manure pH Management for Mitigating Ammonia Emissions from Manure Flush Dairy Barns

Advisor: Dr. Pius Ndegwa

Poster-HeaderGeorge
click to see full research poster

Dairy cows produce lots of manure. A WSU student’s research on cutting the environmental impact of all that waste won him second place in a poster competition at Seattle’s annual Waste to Worth conference.

George Neerackal, who graduates later this year with a doctorate in Biological Systems Engineering, took second in the Ron Sheffield Memorial Student poster contest, held March 31 to April 3.

[read full article from CAHNRS]

Warmest winter since 1992

March 2015 | by Seth Truscott, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

markerstation1-300x222PROSSER, Wash. – The last time Prosser experienced a month as warm as February 2015, relative to normal, some people were still using typewriters and cordless telephones.

According to Washington State University’s AgWeatherNet, the February monthly anomaly was up 5.9 degrees overall and up 6.7 degrees for the mean monthly high.

[read full article]

Robots Picking Apples

Feb 2015 | The rise of the apple picking robot, by David Kroman

Robots Picking ApplesThree out of five apples in the United States come from Washington. That’s 10-12 billion apples if you’re doing the math – enough to wrap around the earth 29 times. The $2.25 billion earned in 2012 was nearly double the revenue of wheat, the state’s second most lucrative crop. The 100 million crates totaled 4 billion pounds of Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady and Cameo. The amazing thing is that every apple in Washington, in fact every apple worldwide, is hand-picked. Researchers at Washington State University are working to change that.

[read full article]

Feb 2015 | The State Of Mechanical Apple Harvesting, by Richard Jones

The era of fully automated robotic harvesters navigating orchard rows is still years away. But as we head into the 2015 season, there have been some really impressive developments in orchard mechanization, some of which are available to growers this season.

Washington State University assistant professor Manoj Karkee is part of another team working on robotics, but with a bit of human-machine collaboration.

“We’re working on techniques where people can help the robotics a little to make the technology more adaptable and affordable,” Kankee says.

[read full article]

Roving cameras see the big picture for wheat breeding

Feb 2015 | WSU News, by Seth Truscott, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

Tractor-drives-500-300x176PULLMAN, Wash. – Wheat breeders at Washington State University are sizing up experimental crops from a new perspective: cameras that see far better than the human eye.

Scientists deploy tractor- and cart-mounted multi-spectral cameras to see how new wheat varieties handle challenges like drought, heat and disease. Results will help breeders and growers choose the best varieties.

“For thousands of years, people have been looking at plants in a field and saying, ‘that one grows well,’” said WSU spring wheat breeder Mike Pumphrey. But there’s a lot our eyes can’t see that a new generation of cameras can.

[read full article]

WSU Tri-Cities prof receives grant to study high-energy biofuels

August 28, 2015 | WSU News

RICHLAND, Wash. — Hanwu Lei, Washington State University Tri-Cities associate professor in biological systems engineering, was awarded a $494,000 grant this fall to research catalysts, which will be used to increase the energy output and performance of biofuels.

Lei said he will use the biomass-derived catalysts to produce aromatic hydrocarbons, which are high-energy organic compounds that are largely responsible for the octane number, or performance rating, of a fuel.

[full article]

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