Bioproducts experts at Washington State University are unlocking the secrets of turning crops into jet fuel.
Read more in “Wood Takes Wing.”
Video by Washington State University Communications
When the leaves disappear from the hardwoods and the last fruits of fall shrivel away in the cold, I’m tempted to call the winter a despondent time. Yet, when it seems like all color has drained away under the snow, a second, more hopeful thought occurs that winter quietly renews the plants. Irish poet and novelist Edna O’Brien summed it up nicely: “In a way Winter is the real Spring—the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature.”
So, too, do our communities face their winters, times when they struggle in the face of economic uncertainty. Like the towns around Grays Harbor, dependent … » More …
As snowstorms gather in the Cascades, highway safety crews traditionally turn to salt and chemical deicers to clear the roads. The corrosive arsenal keeps traffic moving but is damaging to both vehicles and the environment. Now, thanks to the culinary genius of a Washington State University engineer, deicers are getting a green makeover with a distinctive local flavor.
Apple, grape, and cherry skins—waste products from Washington’s fruit and wine industries—are being reborn as sustainable ice melt in an effort to reduce the amount of salt used for snow and ice control.
The transformation is taking place in a basement laboratory where associate professor of civil … » More …
The most complex chemistry lab on the planet is growing in your neighborhood. There might be a tree in your own backyard, cranking out chemicals as it converts sunlight to food, wards off pests, and circulates water and nutrients through it roots, branches, and leaves.
So diverse is the chemical compendium produced by trees that we get aspirin (willow bark is a natural source of salicylic acid and has been used to treat pain since ancient times), the ink Leonardo used in his notebooks (from leaf galls produced by wasp larvae), and natural antibacterials (the fiber in cedar chips is used to make hospital gowns).
… » More …
Flushing the toilet stirred up a good idea in four young women from Walla Walla High School. They recognized that families use hundreds of gallons of water per day, a real problem in places faced with water shortages. To ease that, Karen Maldonado, Edlyn Carvajal, Sandra Escobedo de la Cruz, and Ruth Garcia developed a trapping system using an inexpensive charcoal filter to recycle wastewater back to the toilet tank.
The Walla Walla teens took their plan to the Alaska Airlines Imagine Tomorrow competition, an annual problem-solving challenge at Washington State University that encourages high school students to propose and present ideas … » More …
Traveling to the stars is one thing. Living there is another.
Washington State University is tackling challenges that could enable future astronauts to survive indefinitely on Mars and other extraterrestrial locations.
At the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, for example, a team of students designed a domed habitat that could be built robotically from Martian or Lunar soil with a special 3D printer. Dubbed the WazzuDOME, it was selected by NASA as a finalist in a design competition last year and earned the team a trip to the world’s largest science fair, the annual Maker Faire, in New York City.
“We took … » More …
Rahul Panat, an engineering professor at Washington State University’s Voiland College, and his colleagues Professor Indranath Dutta and graduate student Yeasir Arafat, recently demonstrated a significant advance in flexible electronics by showing that the metal indium, deposited as a thin film on a polymer substrate, can be stretched to twice its length without breaking—“a quantum improvement,” Panat says, over current methods.
Read about wearable electronics and flexible conductors in “Smart Couture.”
A new touchstone for virtual reality
On its own, the gleaming silver skeletal hand looks like a disembodied limb from The Terminator. Strap it on a human and it becomes a glove to grasp things within virtual, computer-generated worlds.
Hakan Gurocak, the mechanical engineering professor at Washington State University Vancouver who designed the glove with his former graduate student Randy Bullion, says the haptic interface can be used in conjunction with virtual reality headsets and position sensors to add a new sense of touch to the experience of being in a digital environment.
More than just immersive computer games or movies, virtual reality and … » More …