A brief video featuring this month’s
Innovators lecturers is available online at

SEATTLE, Wash. – Thanks to aggressive efforts at Washington State University to support the increased production of renewable biofuels, the day when airplanes, cars, boats and even laptop computers will run on crops grown in the Pacific Northwest may be closer than you think.
The cultivation of local sources of renewable energy for transportation and the development of a new fuel-cell technology for efficiently converting complex biofuels into energy are promising energy strategies. They can start us on a path towards energy independence while simultaneously improving our soil, air and water quality so we can produce more food and fewer greenhouse gases.
At WSU, researchers William Pan and Su Ha are combining proven methods and novel approaches in agriculture and engineering to dramatically boost yields of oilseeds and other biofuel crops and to convert biofuels into clean electric power in a single step.
The pair will present a lecture entitled, “Growing a Clean Energy Future: The power of renewable biofuels takes flight,” at noon Thursday, April 28, in the Congress Room of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, 411 University Street, Seattle. The presentation is part of WSU’s continuing “Innovators” lecture series, which highlights the university’s research achievements and promotes informed discussion about matters of vital importance in the 21st century through lectures and panel discussions by faculty experts and industry leaders.
Pan, professor and researcher with the WSU Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, works with state and federal agencies and Washington farmers to improve agricultural practices and to promote diverse, sustainable growing of biomass and oilseeds, such as canola and camelina.
An assistant professor with the WSU Department of Chemical Engineering, Ha works with government and industry partners, including the Boeing Company, to improve technology for cleaner and safer transportation.
Together, they’re helping reduce our carbon footprint and dependence on petroleum, create new jobs in clean technology and sustainable agriculture, secure our region’s economic and environmental health, and meet global energy needs.
A member of WSU faculty since 1984, Pan has endeavored to improve sustainability of agronomic cropping systems across Washington and the Pacific Northwest. He has been active in research, teaching, extension and program administration.
Pan directs the Washington State Biofuels Cropping Systems Program and leads the cropping systems team of a new USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture project to affect PNW climate change mitigation and adaptation.
He has published 45 journal articles and nine book chapters on soil-plant nutrient cycling and agronomic management.
Ha’s research seeks to address energy challenges by improving the process efficiency of converting alternative fuels into clean electrical energy. His research interests include low- and high-temperature fuel cell catalysts, fuel cell diagnosis, nanobiocatalysts for biofuel cells, and hydrogen production.
Ha is investigating technological approaches to convert transportation fuels directly into electrical energy and more efficiently than now possible through conventional internal combustion engines. He is also working to develop a portable fuel cell capable of producing electrical power from sugars using enzymatic electrodes.
After earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Ha joined the faculty at WSU as an assistant professor in 2005. He has published more than 25 papers about topics in alternative energy research.