Biological Systems Engineering

Seminar Archive Fall 2011

Place holder image 
BSysE-598 Coordinator(s): Dr. Hanwu Lei & Dr. Shyam Sablani
Friday, December 2, 2011 at 4:00 PM in FSHN 101T

Please join us for a graduate seminar titled “Hot Water Extracted Hardwood Biomass for Wood Composites” that will be presented by Vikram Yadama, Assistant Professor & Extension Specialist in the Department of Civil Engineering. 

Hot-Water Extracted Hardwood Biomass for Wood Composites
Vikram Yadama, Assistant Professor & Extension Specialist, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
MDF for exterior applications, such as flooring and trimming, is an attractive opportunity to expand its market potential. For these applications, however, it is critical to improve dimensional stability and durability of MDF. As moisture resistance is the means to achieve this goal, in this study use of hot-water extracted maple chips as a source for MDF fiber was investigated. As hot-water extraction aides in the removal of hemicelluloses and amorphous cellulose, the resulting fiber will be less hydrophilic in nature. Laboratory MDF panels (average target density of 42 lb/ft3 and thickness of 0.5 inch) were made from treated chips and untreated chips. Liquid urea-formaldehyde resin (10% dry fiber weight basis) was used as a binder. Flexural properties, internal bond strength, moisture absorption, thickness swell, and density profiles were investigated.  Hot water extraction had a significant effect on moisture resistance of the resulting
product. Presentation will focus on affect of pretreatment on fiber and MDF properties.

Friday, November 18, 2011 at 10:00 AM in LJSmith 259

Please join us for a seminar titled “Effects of Surface Coal Mining on Soil Hydraulic Properties:  Rosebud Mine, Eastern Montana, USA” .  The seminar will be presented on Friday, November 18, 2011 at 10:00am in LJ Smith Hall, Room 259 by Xiangdong Liu, MS Candidate, in partial fulfillment of the MS in Biological and Agricultural Engineering degree. 

Friday, November 18, 2011 at 4:00 PM in FSHN 101T

Please join us for a graduate seminar titled “Experimental and modeling study of two-stage pilot scale high solid anaerobic digester (HSAD) systems”.  The seminar will be presented by Liang Yu, candidate for the PhD degree in Biological and Agricultural Engineering on Friday, November 18, 2011 at 4:10pm in FSHN 101T.

Experimental and modeling study of a two-stage pilot scale high solid anaerobic digester (HSAD) system
An increasing attention has been paid to anaerobic digestion (AD) for converting the organic fraction of municipal solid wastes (OFMSW) to renewable energy and reducing environmental impact. Since OFMSW is easily degradable but tends to acidify quickly inhibiting the digestion process in conventional digester designs, a new two-stage AD technology was developed to stabilize this process and enhance bio-methane productivity. Bench-scale and pilot-scale experiments have been done to treat food wastes operated within a total solids range of 15-20%. Effluent recirculation is critical to realize this process for providing mixing, pH control, and seeding of anaerobic microorganisms to the high solid digester. Therefore, a model involving transport and reaction kinetics is needed to understand and assess the effect of the effluent recirculation on the digester performance.
In this study, the model concept was developed from the IWA Anaerobic Digestion Model No.1 (ADM1). So far, the ADM1 model contains the most complex biochemical reaction kinetics in anaerobic digestion such as hydrolysis, equilibrium, substrate uptake and inhibition. We put this model into the two-stage AD system which includes a high solid digester and a liquid digester. The effluent was recirculated from liquid digester to high solid digester. The high solid digester was assumed to be a combination of continuous stirred-tank reactor (CSTR) and dispersed plug flow reactor (DPFR). The liquid digester was assumed to be a DPFR where upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor (UASB), a high rate digester, was used to retain more methanogens and maintain pH at the range of 6.0-8.0 in the whole system. The model was verified by the data from the pilot scale experiments and parameters in the kinetics models were corrected.

Friday, November 11, 2011 at 4:00 PM in FSHN 101T

Jing Ke, Graduate Student, Biological Systems Engineering

Friday, November 4, 2011 at 4:00 PM in FSHN 101T

Please join us for a graduate seminar titled “WSU Wine Research Program and the Washington Wine Industry” that will be presented by Dr. Thomas E. Henick-Kling, Director of the Viticulture & Encology Program, Washington State University, Richland. 

This seminar will describe the exciting outlook for growth for the Washington wine industry and the role of WSU’s research and education programs in this development.  The WSU Viticulture & Enology provides trained personnel and the research foundation for the technologies that that will allow this industry to grow in a competitive world market.  Key to success is to produce premium wines with flavor profiles that can be easily identified as Washington State and also show the diversity of our wine growing areas.  Examples of research that focus on distinctive wine flavor profiles and sustainability of production will be presented.

Friday, October 28, 2011 at 4:00 PM in FSHN 101T

Please join us for a graduate seminar titled “Bio‐Oil Upgrading and Stabilization at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory” that will be presented by Dr. Valenzuela Olarte  from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  The seminar will be presented on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 4:10pm in FSHN 101T.  An abstract is below. 

Valenzuela Olarte MB, Zacher AH, Elliott DC, Santosa DM, Neuenschwander GG, Hart TR, Rotness LJ

In the face of dwindling petroleum sources, biomass has been tapped to supply part of the world’s requirement for transportation fuel. Flash pyrolysis and subsequent upgrading of the bio‐oil product has been identified as one of the feasible ways to produce liquid fuels. The aim is to produce a drop‐in liquid fuel that has similar properties as conventional gasoline, diesel or jet fuel cuts through thermochemical and catalytic means.  Flash pyrolysis requires the rapid heating of size‐reduced biomass to temperatures between 400‐600°C for 1 – 2 seconds. This process produces a vapor product and solid char. The char is collected and
separated from the vapors, typically through the use of cyclones. The vapors, on the other hand, are condensed and are collected as bio‐oils. At this point, the oxygen content of the liquid is still too high for direct transportation fuel applications. The subsequent catalytic upgrading of the bio‐oil, through hydrotreatment in the presence of H2, reduces this to as low as 0.1%, which has good potential for fractionation and blending into the fuel pool.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has been at the forefront of this research. This talk will touch on some of the challenges inherent in this field and the results that have been achieved so far.

Friday, October 21, 2011 at 4:00 PM in FSHN 101T

Please join us for a graduate seminar titled “ Douglas fir pellet catalytic microwave torrefaction and pyrolysis to improve biofuel quality” . This seminar will be presented by Shoujie Ren, candidate for the PhD in Biological and Agricultural Engineering degree. The seminar will be presented on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 4pm in FSHN 101T and will also be available by viodeconference in Puyallup, Prosser and Tricities.

Friday, October 14, 2011 at 4:00 PM in FSHN 101T

Please join us for a graduate seminar titled " Initial Physical, Chemical and Hydraulic Characteristics of Mesocosm-Scale Bioretention Systems with Various Media Blends that will be presented by Curtis Hinman, Professor with Washington State University Extension, Puyallup Research and Extension Center. 

Managing stormwater and implementing low impact development (LID) stormwater controls are national and regional priorities for protecting streams, lakes, wetlands and marine waters. In Washington State, LID will be required in the next National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit for local jurisdictions (Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board, 2009). Recently, WSU completed one of the largest and most sophisticated LID research facilities in the world (funded in part by Washington Department of Ecology) located at the WSU Research and Extension Center in Puyallup (WSUP). 

The LID research facility includes:

  • Thirty-nine, full-scale replicated bioretention cells to test: the pollutant management capabilities of various soil mixes; long-term pollutant concentration trends in soils; plant growth and evapotranspiration performance; detailed hydraulic characteristics; and long-term infiltration rates influenced by various plant types and sediment loading regimes. 
  • Seventeen, full-scale, replicated permeable asphalt and concrete installations to test: pollutant removal performance at various depths; accumulation of pollutants in sub-grade soils over time; and flow control performance. 

The LID Research Program will support extensive testing of plant soil systems (bioretention) and permeable pavement, and from the results, development of scientifically defensible performance and design guidelines. The seminar presentation will provide background on the facility design and then focus on the initial testing to determine nutrient, metal and hydrocarbon leaching and hydraulic characteristics of bioretention systems with various compost and aggregate ratios and additives to capture phosphorus (see descriptions below).

Of the 39 bioretention test cells, 20 are located in 152 cm diameter tanks filled with various soil media (61 cm deep) and planted with the same plant species.  Each tank has an under-drain, flow monitoring instruments and water quality sampling equipment.  There are five soil media treatment replicated four times.  The four media blends include:

  • 60% mineral aggregate and 40% compost by volume.
  • 80% mineral aggregate and 20% compost by volume. 
  • 60% mineral aggregate, 15% compost, 15% shredded cedar bark, and 10% water treatment residuals by volume.
  • 60% mineral aggregate, 30% compost, and 10% water treatment residuals by volume.

The soil media are experimental blends designed to optimize stormwater pollutant capture with particular attention to phosphate and nitrate management, plant growth and infiltration capability.  Natural and blended stormwater is distributed to the mesocosms.  The presentation will focus on the base-line testing of the bioretention media. 

Friday, October 7, 2011 at 4:00 PM in FSHN 101T

Please join us for a graduate seminar titled Polymeric-Based Multilayer Food Packaging Films for Pressure Assisted Thermal Processing and Microwave Sterilization that will be presented by Sumeet Dhawan, PhD candidate in the Biological Systems Engineering department. 

In recent years, advanced thermal processing technologies of foods have become commercially important and have attracted great attention from consumers. These processes have the advantage of decreasing processing times and the detrimental effects on food quality.  Microwave processing (MW), high hydrostatic processing (HHP) and their combination of heat treatment are two sterilization technologies that have received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe technologies for preserving low-acid foods. However, these processes require food to be processed inside their packaging. Hence, it is important to study the interaction between packaging material and food-processing techniques to ensure consumer safety. Polymeric-based multilayer food packaging films are increasingly becoming the choice of packaging for advance thermal processing of foods.
The above sterilization processes alter the structure of polymeric package and the barrier properties, and hence, limit the shelf-life of oxygen-sensitive foods packaged in these structures. Gas barrier, mechanical, thermal, electrical, visual integrity and morphological properties are critical packaging characteristics that determine packaging selection for the advanced thermal processes. Selecting the appropriate packaging material will extend the shelf-life of foods processed with such technologies.     
This presentation will focus on the influence of MW treatment on oxygen transmission rate (OTR) of two multilayer polymeric pouches one of which is coated with nano particles. The objectives and results of the study will be presented as well as the future research objectives will be discussed.

Friday, September 30, 2011 at 4:00 PM in FSHN 101T

Please join us for a graduate seminar titled "Incorporation of a baseflow component in the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) model" that will be presented by Anurag Srivastava, Biological Systems Engineering Graduate student at Washington State University.  The seminar will be held on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 4:10pm in FSHN 101T.

Assessment of water yields from watersheds into streams and rivers is critical to manage water supply and protect aquatic life. Surface runoff typically contributes to peak discharge of a hydrograph occurring from overland flow. Subsurface flow dominates the falling limb of hydrograph that occurs when water flows laterally through soils, and baseflow dominates streamflow from shallow unconfined aquifers during dry seasons.

The Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) model is a physically–based continuous simulation model. Recent improvements to WEPP include enhanced computation of deep percolation and subsurface lateral flow by using a restrictive layer and manipulation of the anisotrophic ratio. These additions have significantly improved the performance of the WEPP model in forested watersheds. In order to further enhance model applicability, a baseflow component needs to be incorporated to adequately represent hydrologic conditions where significant quantities of groundwater supply flow to perennial streams. Hence, the specific objectives of this study are to develop a methodology to incorporate baseflow component into the WEPP based on a linear reservoir model and to evaluate the performance of the improved WEPP model by applying it to selected watersheds.

WEPP discretizes a waterhshed into hillslopes, hydraulic structures, and channel network.  Currently, WEPP simulates daily water balance with the following components: surface runoff, subsurface lateral flow, evapotranspiration, total soil water, and percolation. For the proposed baseflow model component, percolation will replenish the ground-water reservoir and then be partitioned into ground-water baseflow and deep leakage using a linear reservoir model that assumes outflow from a reservoir is a linear fraction of the ground-water storage in an unconfined aquifer. A subroutine for linear reservoir will be developed in Fortran language and incorporated in WEPP. The developed code will be verified and tested by applying the modified WEPP to selected watersheds. The following watersheds have been selected for model performance assessment:  Priest River Experimental Forest, Bonner, Idaho, Asotin Creek Watershed in Asotin, Washington, and Johnson Creek Watershed near Houston, Texas. Users of the modified WEPP with a baseflow component will be able to simulate and predict streamflow from watersheds with substantial amount of baseflow and will help in promoting informed and sound management of water quality and quantity.

Friday, September 23 2011 at 4:00 PM in FSHN 101T

Please join us for a graduate seminar titled "Atmospheric Pressure Weakly Ionized Plasma (APWIP) For Materials Processing" that will be presented by Dr. Patrick Pedrow, Associate Professor and Associate Director of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Washington State University.  The seminar will be held on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 4:10pm in FSHN 101T. 

Atmospheric Pressure Weakly Ionized Plasma (APWIP) is being evaluated globally for many new materials processing applications. The high collision frequency that accompanies atmospheric pressure offers unique challenges but in many cases the freedom from vacuum pump systems will likely outweigh drawbacks. Similarly, there are applications such as deep well etching that will likely not be possible with the APWIP reactor. In this presentation there will be a survey of existing APWIP literature followed by specific examples of interdisciplinary collaborative research at Washington State University. Reactor types that will be surveyed include dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) which has filamentary and glow modes; RF planar electrodes without dielectric barrier; streamer reactors using line frequency high voltage applied to a needle array-to-screen electrode assembly without dielectric barrier; plasma jets; and the microwave-energized APWIP reactor. Applications to materials processing that will be surveyed include corrosion control with thin films;  control of surface wettability (surface energy);  flexible electrochromic devices for solar cells;  surface decontamination;  grafting;  enhanced adhesion; immobilizing micro- and nano-particles at a surface;  coatings for biomedical implants;  food processing;  and control of gas permeability properties of membranes. Knowledge gaps that are impeding progress in this field will be identified. Prospective future revolutionary plasma-assisted materials processing technologies associated with APWIP will be contemplated.

Friday, September 16, 2011 at 4:00 PM in FSHN 101T

Please join us for a Biological Systems Engineering graduate seminar titled Positron Annihilation Spectroscopy and its Potential Applications in Biological Engineering Research  presented by Dr. Farida Selim, Department of Physics and Astronomy at Washington State University.  The seminar will be held on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 4:10pm in FSHN 101TAn abstract is below.

Positron, the antiparticle of electron, provides an interesting research tool in fundamental and applied science. Positron and its bound state with an electron “postronium” have been very useful to study atomic interactions and test quantum theories. In the area of condensed matter and materials science, positron annihilation has been developed to a powerful research tool for metals, semiconductors and polymers. 

In this talk, I will explain the principles of positron annihilation spectroscopy, demonstrates why it can provide a unique tool in engineering and biological engineering research. Then I will discuss how we can enhance its capabilities, make it more accessible and easier to use in a wide range of biological and engineering applications.  

Friday, September 9, 2011 at 4:00 PM in FSHN 101T

Please join us for a seminar titled “Approaches to produce Hydrocarbon Fuels form Biomass” that will be presented by Dr. John E. Holladay.  

Through the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium (NABC) and the National Alliance for of Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB) PNNL and our partners are working on new routes to hydrocarbon-based biofuels that fit into the fuels infrastructure used today. Dr. Holladay will provide an overview of different approaches for producing such fuels and provide a update on the advancement of the technologies.
Dr. John E. Holladay is responsible for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s $18 million research portfolio including biofuels, products and energy. The portfolio ranges from sustainable utilization of terrestrial biomass and marine systems to fuels and chemicals via chemical and biological catalysis.

Dr. Holladay has overseen significant growth in the research volume at PNNL during his tenure, particularly in catalyst capability at the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory, and in sustainability analysis as PNNL seeks to improve the science base for conversion of biomass with respect to understanding water and land use impacts. Prior to his current assignment, Holladay’s research focus was in developing new catalysts and processes for conversion of a variety of biomass feedstocks to chemicals, with a focus on condensed phase heterogeneous catalysis. He also played key roles in multiple assessment activities examining potential uses for sugars, lignin, and lipids.

In FY2010 alone, Dr. Holladay received six patents for work in diverse areas, all unified by the use of renewables as feedstocks for the creation of value-added chemicals. Four of these patents were for work to convert sorbitol—available from corn—to isosorbide for creation of novel polymers that are sought after for hot fill beverage containers, replacements for beer bottles, and engineered thermoplastics. The patents are exclusively licensed to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, CRADA partner on this work. In addition to other recently issued patents, Dr. Holladay is named on several pending patent applications.

Dr. Holladay’s current research is directed at catalysts and process development. More recently this has included utilizing combinatorial techniques to solve problems in the area of condensed phase heterogeneous catalysis. He has been a driver for bringing the combinatorial capabilities on-line at the Laboratory and, working with other scientists at PNNL, is developing research programs supported by the facility.

Dr. Holladay is also the chief technology officer for the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium and chief operations officer for the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts, both consortia that include collaboration among national laboratories, industry, and academia.

Friday, September 2, 2011 at 4:00 PM in FSHN 101T

Please join us for a graduate seminar titled “Effects of Forest Cover and Environmental Variables on Snow Accumulation and Melt” that will be presented by PhD candidate, Mariana Dobre.  

In arid and semiarid landscapes, such as the western United States, mountain snowpack represents a seasonal water storage reservoir that is the primary source of streamflow during the melt season.

Both snow accumulation and melt processes are influenced by the interactions among topography, climate, and forest cover. A good understanding of these interactions is a challenge for forest hydrologists and water resource managers. Ideally, we need to manage watersheds so that sufficient snowpack would accumulate during the winter and melt slowly when temperatures increase, yielding a long-duration runoff hydrograph with a low peak flow. Currently, the processes that control snow accumulation and melt are well known, yet their interactions across varied terrain present modeling and prediction difficulties.

This presentation will focus on the field investigation and data collection over a period of six years within ten small watersheds at the Priest River Experimental Forest, Idaho. The objectives of the study will be presented as well as the partial results and future research.


Mariana Dobre received a Bachelor degree in Environmental Sciences, and a Master degree in Natural Landscape Assessment, both from the University of Bucharest, Romania. Mariana also obtained a Master degree in Land and Water Conservation from the University of Bologna, Italy. Prior to her arrival at WSU, she spent seven years as an Undergraduate/Graduate Research Assistant at the Center for Environmental Research and Impact Assessment, University of Bucharest.
Mariana joined WSU in Fall 2009 and is currently working on her PhD in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering.

BSysE is one of the best....[more]

Department News

Shyam Sablani is Cocharan Fellowship Program
Training Lead... .[more]
Dr. Shyam Sablani
Manoj Karkee Recieves USDA Tree Fruit Harvesting Grant ....[more]
Manoj Karkee
Qin Zhang named ASABE fellow....[more]
Qin Zhang Fellow
Ogderel Bumandalai in WSUNews ...[more]
Ogderel Bumandalai with Wheat Farmer
BSysE sends 25 Students to ASABE
Dr. Craig FrearDr. Craig Frear talks about
WSU Anaerobic Digestin Systems
Field Day
New Faculty Members Lav R. Khot and Sindhuja Sankaran join BSysE. [more]
Dr. Sankaran & Dr. Khot



H3 Heading

Additional Information Goes Here.

Biological Systems Engineering, PO Box 646120, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6120, 509-335-1578, Contact Us