Five WSU “waste-to-resources” research projects have been awarded grants by the Washington State Department of Ecology totaling $586,000.
The five WSU projects are among six research and two demonstration proposals to receive funding under the department’s “Organic Waste to Resources” program, which awarded a total of just under $730,000 in grants.
The competitive grants are part of the department’s Beyond Waste Plan that envisions being able to reclaim all waste materials through industrial and organic recovery systems in 30 years. The plan aims to create sustainable organic reclamation systems statewide, eliminate the need for fossil-based fuels and fertilizers, generate fuels and fertilizers from biomass and reduce carbon impacts.
The WSU projects receiving funding are:
Using Bio-refineries to convert softwood bark to transportation fuelsBiological Systems Engineering assistant professor Manuel Garcia-Perez was awarded $119,905 to evaluate a process to use the 14.2 million tons of woody biomass waste generated in the state annually by logging and mill operations to produce crude bio-oils. Refineries could further convert these materials into transportation fuels, chemicals and biochar, a potentially valuable soil amendment to create higher soil health and fertility.
Treating solid food wastes to generate biohydrogen and biodiesel Biological Systems Engineering professor Shulin Chen and research associate Zhanyou Chi were awarded $119,877 to develop a two-step process to produce biodiesel from a biological treatment of food waste. The first step of this process uses bacteria to ferment glucose derived from the organic waste to produce hydrogen and volatile fatty acids (VFA). One-third of the carbon is converted to carbon dioxide in the first-step process, while two-thirds of the carbon is converted to volatile fatty acids. In the second step, the remaining carbon in the form of VFA is used to feed carbon to algae or yeast to produce biodiesel.