Biological Systems Engineering

Seminar Archive Spring 2013

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Coordinators for this Semester: Drs. Pius Ndegwa & Qin Zhang

FINAL EXAM SEMINARS are listed (here)

Previous seminars...

Previous seminars for this semester are listed below. Seminars for the last five years are kept in our Seminar Archive.

BSYSE 598 SEMINAR - Friday April 26, 2013 - 4:10PM FSHN T101

"Biomechanical Energy Harvesting for Implantable Medical Devices”

Presented by Changki Mo, Ph.D., and Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University.

Dr. Changki Mo is Assistant Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University Tri-Cities. He received his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 1996. Before joining WSU, Dr. Mo was Visiting Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA and Associate Professor in Automotive Engineering Department at Kyungpook National University (Sangju, South Korea). His research interest includes vehicular and structural vibration control, energy harvesting: self-powered medical implants and self-powered structural health monitoring, micro actuators and sensors, adaptive structure technology, and smart structures for sustainable buildings. Much of his current research focuses on morphing systems using shape memory polymer and piezoelectric systems for actuators, resonators, sensors, or energy sources. He has published about 50 peer reviewed journal and conference articles and one book chapter. (more)

BSYSE 598 SEMINAR - Friday April 19, 2013 - 4:10PM FSHN T101

"Modeling of Hydrologic Processes and Assessment of Climate Variability Impacts on Streamflow in the Upper Cedar River Watershed”

Presented by Anurag Srivastava, PhD candidate BSysE and...

"Studies in Energy Efficiency of Food Sterilization using Microwave Technology at 915MHz"

Presented by Rajat Tyagi, Ph.D. candidate BSysE

BSYSE 598 SEMINAR - Friday April 12, 2013

"Evaluation of new concepts for palm oil mill biorefineries: Methodologies to design pyrolytic reactors and engineered biochars”

Presented by Alberto Garcia Nunez, Ph.D. candidate BSysE and...

"Thermochemical pretreatment of low value woody biomass for manufacturing wood composites"

Presented by M.R. Pelaez-Samaniego, Ph.D. candidate BSysE

Friday April 5, 2013 - 4:10PM FSHN T101
“Pharmaceuticals in the Environment:  Implications for Ecological and Human Health Risks”

The seminar will be presented by Dr. Jeffrey Ullman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Florida.

Significant amounts of pharmaceuticals administered to humans and livestock are excreted and ultimately reach the environment. Although concentrations of hormones, antibiotics and other drugs are typically found at trace levels, these compounds are bioactive by design and consequently present a range of potential ecological and human health risks. Among other effects, pharmaceuticals have been shown to lead to the feminization of fish, impact reproduction and development in wildlife, and promote antibiotic-resistance. This growing concern warrants engineered solutions to mitigate pharmaceuticals from entering the environment through better waste management practices. This presentation will present some of the current problems associated with these compounds and potential solutions to minimize their ecological and human health risks. 

Dr. Ullman received a B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University and a M.S. in Environmental Science from Duke University, followed by a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering and a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering at Texas A&M University. He joined the Biological Systems Engineering faculty at Washington State University in 2006 and currently serves as an assistant professor and extension specialist at the University of Florida. His research group consists of an interdisciplinary team that follows a comprehensive approach to solve water quality issues, drawing on facets of chemistry, biology, hydrology and land-use management. Results from his research are directly applied to the development and evaluation of engineered mitigation, remediation and treatment technologies, and outcomes are aimed at the implementa­tion of improved best management practices (BMPs) to help improve water quality. His current work considers a variety of pollutants, including pathogens and nutrients, but his primary interest continues to focus on trace organic contaminants in the environment. Ongoing projects involve irrigation management, pathogen fate and transport, and wastewater reuse. 


Monday April 1, 2013 - 1:00PM LJS263
"Biological Conversion of Pyrolytic Products to Produce Ethanol and Lipd"

This final exam seminar will be presented by Jieni Lian, Ph.D. Engineering Science degree candidate, Biological Systems Engineering. This seminar is open to the public.

Friday March 22, 2013 - 4:10PM FSHN T101 - 2 seminars for this week.
Seminar 1: “Computer-simulation analyses to improve radio frequency (RF) heating uniformity in dried fruits for insect control"

Prresented by Bandar Alfaifi, Ph.D. candidate Biological Systems Engineering.

Postharvest control of insects in agricultural commodities is essential for quarantine regulations in many countries. Chemical fumigation has been used as a quarantine method for many years due to its inexpensive cost, rapid processing, and ease of use. Concerns about the health and environment hazards of chemical fumigants raised the interest of non-chemical alternatives. Radio frequency (RF) heating has been proposed as a possible alternative for controlling insects in agricultural commodities. However, non-uniform heating is one of the most important challenges during the development of RF heat treatments for pest control. In this study, a validated computer simulation model based on finite element method was used to investigate the effects of different sample shape, electrodes configuration, and treatment condition with forced hot air on the RF heating uniformity of raisins. The configurations with acceptable heating uniformity were validated experimentally and compared to forced hot air 60 ºC treatment. Higher simulated temperatures (60–76 °C) were observed in the edge and corner areas of the RF treated samples packed in the rectangular and cylinder shaped containers, while lower temperatures (40 °C) were observed on the center areas. The heating uniformity in the samples was improved when using shapes with rounded edges and corners; maximum temperature difference was about 12 °C. Using RF heating with electrode configurations followed by forced hot air at 60 ºC also improved the heating uniformity and minimized temperature difference in the sample to 5 ºC. In both, simulation and experiment, about 356 min was needed to heat the sample from 22 ºC to 55 ºC using forced hot air at 60 ºC. About 6 min RF heating followed by 10 min forced hot air at 60 ºC was needed to reach sample temperature >55 ºC in simulation, while more time (about 0.5-1 min) will be needed to reach sample temperature >55 ºC in the experiment. This RF heating uniformity improvement technique can be used to develop a postharvest treatment protocol to control insects in dried fruits.

Seminar 2: "Bio-prospecting Extremophilic Microalgae for Biodiesel"

Prresented by Pierre Wensel, Ph.D. candidate Biological Systems Engineering.

A multi-instrumental approach was used to isolate and characterize an oleaginous, halo-alkaline tolerant, and multi-trophic green microalgae from a soda lake in Grant County,WA., U.SA. as candidate for a biorefinery’s robust large-scale, two-stage cultivation strategy for biofuel: This strategy involves an open-pond phototrophic 2nd-stage featuring NaHCO3 inorganic carbon, high pH, high salinity, and high inoculation cell density (from a fermentor heterotrophic 1st-stage) to maximize lipid productivity, minimize outdoor contamination, and facilitate harvesting. Carbon/nitrogen source and level, trophic mode, temperature, and pH were optimized for high biomass and lipid productivity. Short and long-term effects of levels of nitrogen, pH, and NaHCO3 on cellular dimensions and photosynthetic parameters were evaluated to obtain greater insight on response under extreme 2nd-stage conditions. Low urea (0.133g/L), high NaHCO3 (17g/L), and a high HCl-adjusted pH 9 limited contamination and resulted in 77.61 mgL-1day-1 lipid productivity in 0.250-L flask. The two-stage cultivation was also demonstrated at larger scale with 1-L fermentor and 40-L open-tank PBR.

Friday March 8, 2013 - 4:10PM FSHN T101
"Bioproduct development from lignocellulosic biomass"

Presented by Dr. Mike Lilga, Ph.D., from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA.

Dr Lilga will present a holistic overview on opportunities for bolstering the biorefining value chain with lignocellulosic bioproducts and chemicals. PNNL’s “Top 10 Report” will be highlighted and discussed in terms of a short list of bioproducts derived from both sugars and lignin using biochemical and thermochemical and catalytic means that have significant market potential. Platform chemicals from biomass will also be discussed as intermediates that can be used in conventional refining and chemical methods to produce a wide variety of finished products including polymers, plastics, specialty chemicals and addititives. Finally, he will discuss the use of furan derivatives as one such platform molecule in a case study from a cooperative research and development agreement between PNNL and Archer Daniels Midland.

Friday March 1, 2013 - 4:10PM FSHN T101
"A Cloud-Based Information System for Data Analysis and Decision Suport in Precision Agriculture"

Prresented by Li Tan, Ph.D. Assistant Professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Washington State University TriCities.

Recent advances in information technology and other engineering fields provide new opportunities for research and practices in precision agriculture. Using these technologies, farmers can collect a large volume of data quickly from a heterogeneous network of devices, and these data carry real-time and multiple-factor measurement of field conditions. A major challenge in precision agriculture today is how to analyze these data efficiently and deliver results in a way accessible for farmers. In this talk I will discuss a cloud-based information system for data analysis and decision support in precision agriculture. I will discuss research questions in developing a scalable information system for data intensive precision agriculture operations. To address these questions, we developed an extensible data-driven software architecture with support for data integration. I also will discuss our implementation on a cloud-based computing platform that provides the scalability and efficiency needed for precision agriculture applications.

Friday February 22, 2013 - 4:10PM FSHN T101
"Publications Ethics"

Prresented by John Nilson, Ph.D. Edward Meyer Distinguished Professor and Director of the School of Molecular Biosciences at Washington State University.

Friday February 15, 2013 - 4:10PM FSHN T101
"Understanding the Effect of Cellulose Crystallinity During Pyrolytic Reactions"
Presented by Zhouhong Wang
"Sediment and Nutrient Reduction in Irrigation Return Flows by Vegetated Filter Strips on Surface Irrigated Fields"
Presented by Brian Bodah

Brian Boday and Zhouhong Wang are Biological and Agricultural Engineering Ph.D. candidates in the Biological Systems Engineering department. 

Friday February 8, 2013 - 4:10PM FSHN T101

Please join us for two seminar presentations presented by Yang Jiao and Xiaochen Yu. Both are PhD candidates in the Biological Systems Engineering department. 

"Microbial oil production from lignocellulosic biomass by Cryptococcus curvatus"
Presented by Xiaochen Yu

Taking into account the fundamental problems around the world: hunger, the lack of energy and the deterioration of the environment, biodiesel production from lignocellulosic biomass has increasingly attracted much attention, since it decreases the potential to spark conflicts between food and energy issues by using non-starch, non-food biomass, and additionally it emits less green house gas to the environment than conventional fossil fuels. Generally lignocellulosic biomass is firstly hydrolyzed either chemically or biologically to fermentable sugars derived from cellulose and hemicellulose, which will be then converted to single cell oil by oleaginous microorganisms, as the feedstock for biodiesel production.

Our work comprehensively explores the use of the hydrolysate from the dilute sulfuric acid pretreatment of wheat straw for microbial oil production. In this study, we investigated the performance of the oleaginous yeast on both detoxified and non-detoxified hydrolysate.

The results showed that all the strains could use the hydrolysate to produce lipids and detoxification of the hydrolysate was not necessary for optimal cell growth and lipid production by the fungus and yeast strains. Among all the tested strains, the yeast Cryptococcus curvatus achieved 34% lipid content on the non-detoxified hydrolysate with up to 20% lipid yield. The overall mass balance indicated that lipid yield using the hydrolysate from dilute sulfuric acid pretreatment of wheat straw was 4.7 g lipids/ 100 g initial dry biomass.

Our finding is quite significant as (1) it elucidates the feasibility of microbial oil production from lignocellulosic materials and suggests an alternative strategy for biodiesel production, (2) it provides the possibilities for the further scale-up and demonstration, which will accelerate the development of biodiesel production towards the commercialization, (3) it simplifies the hydrolysate fermentation process and could probably reduce the cost since the detoxification step is not required.

Improvement of Heating Uniformity in Peanut Butter during Radio Frequency Pasteurization using Polyetherimide ‘Ultem’
Presented by Yang Jiao

The multistate outbreaks of salmonella in low moisture food have created a huge food safety concern these days. The high heat resistance of food borne pathogen in low moisture food product limited the application of traditional pasteurization methods, e.g. hot air heating, hot water heating, etc. Radio frequency (RF) heating could be potentially applied on low moisture food pasteurization to eliminate the bacteria without damaging the food quality. However, the non-uniformity heating is the major obstacle for RF pasteurization applications.

In this study, peanut butter in a cylinder jar was used as an example of low moisture food to study the heating uniformity under RF treatment. Ultem polyetherimide (PEI), a kind of polymer which has similar dielectric properties of peanut butter, was chosen to replace the air in the RF applicator and provide a better heating uniformity. A mathematical model was developed to describe the peanut butter subjected into RF systems, and preliminary computer simulation was conducted with COMSOL Multiphysics® to show the temperature distribution. Experiments, accordingly, were performed with a 27.12 MHz RF unit to validate the effectiveness of the ultem assisting method. In the experiments, peanut butter in jar was treated in RF with/without the ultem medium for heating uniformity comparison. In both designs, the top surface and cross section surface temperature of peanut butter sample was obtained from an infrared camera and the overall temperature distribution was measured by a designed thermocouple board at 18 locations in the jar as soon as the center temperature approaches 70 ºC.

The results showed that the ultem assistance largely improved the overall heating uniformity in RF treated peanut butter. The average temperature obtained from thermocouples was reduced from 86.7 to 78.6 ºC, and the standard deviation is reduced from 1.0 to 0.7 ºC. Also, the difference between maximum and minimum temperature of surface and cross section temperature was reduced from 13 and 27 ºC to 10 and 18 ºC, respectively. This RF heating uniformity improvement method can be scaled up to industrial applications and provide high quality commercial low moisture foods.

Friday February 1, 2013 - 4:10PM FSHN T101
“Harvest Management Information System for Specialty Crops”

Presented by Yiannis Ampatzidis, Ph.D., Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems, WSU.

Managing harvest personnel and progress in orchards is of vital importance due to their complexity and significance in production budgets. Herein we present a Harvest Management Information System (HMIS) that combines a novel real-time Labor Monitoring System (LMS) with a cloud-based harvest management software. The HMIS can be used as a management tool (decision support system) to help growers, orchard managers, and packing house managers by providing real-time access to harvest data (e.g. trace the picking crews in the field, know the number of collected bins from each orchard) that will facilitate informed decisions and harvest planning.

Friday January 25, 2013 - 4:10PM FSHN T101
“Study on Photosynthetically-Active Radiation Interception Acquisition and Visualization in Modern Training Tree Fruit Orchard”

Presented by Jingjin Zhang, Candidate for the PhD degree in Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

“Mechanical Harvest Technologies for Fresh Market Sweet Cherries”

Presented by Jianfeng Zhou, Candidate for the PhD degree in Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

Friday January 18, 2013 - 4:10PM FSHN T101
"R" - A Programming and Statistical Analysis Tool

Dr. Thorsten Knappenberger, Dept. of Crop and Soil Sciences, WSU. “R” is a programming language and a statistical analysis tool. It is becoming more and more popular as it is a free ware and easy to use. It's extendability via packages allows to craft very individual tools, both for modeling and analysis. “R” also has excellent graphical capabilities and hence analysis and visualization can be done with the same program.

Dr. Knappenberger currently holds a post doctoral research position sponsored by the German Research Foundation with Dr. Markus Flury's research group located at the Puyallup Extension and Research Center. Dr. Knappenberger earned his Ph.D. from the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart where he studied transport processes of heat and water to germinating seeds with an emphasis on corn.


*Note: Seminars are posted as soon as they are received by the web developer. If you would like to be notified directly by electronic mail send your request to the coordinator(s) for the current semester. You will either receive the complete semester schedule or your electronic mail address will be added to the internal announcement list.
Updated: April 11, 2013 (VSH)
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