Innovative and potentially marketable research projects to develop a new fertilizer, anti-bed bug pesticide, farm equipment and waste-to-fuel technology have received grants from the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences
The Research Applications for Innovation (RAIN) Grants aim to stimulate economic development through transfer of technologies to the marketplace, says Gary Thompson, associate dean for research and graduate education.
Nina Jenkins, a senior research associate in entomology, is leading a research group developing a biopesticide for long-term control and prevention of bed bug infestations. Jenkins has filed patent applications for the technology, which has garnered strong interest from the hotel industry. The grant will be used to collect data needed for eventual approval of the project for in-home use.
Corey Dillon and Agronomy Professor Greg Roth are working to commercialize "the Penn State Interseeder" developed by research technologist Chris Houser. The equipment can seed a cover crop into no-till corn, while also applying fertilizer and post-emergent herbicide, saving growers time and money and making cover crops more economically feasible.
Cover crops are gaining favor for their ability to reduce soil erosion, take up excess nutrients, suppress weeds and provide forage and biofuel feedstock.
The grant will be used to market the equipment for licensing to potential suppliers and manufacturers.
Nicole Brown, associate professor of wood chemistry, is investigating a value-added use for lignin and silica-rich rice hull ash, which are wastes from bioenergy, and pulp and paper production. Brown's team has applied for a patent for technology that incorporates these low-value products into bricks that substitute for coke, the fuel source in the metal casting industry.
Industry trials have shown that these innovative solid-fuel bricks can reduce the energy and carbon dioxide footprints of steel and iron foundries by 20 to 25 percent, while providing additional value for several waste or low-value materials.
Another team, led by Associate Professor Mary Ann Bruns, is studying cyanobacterial biofertilizers and will work with a company that plans to produce low-carbon liquid fuels by capturing carbon dioxide to grow cyanobacteria.
Source: Penn State
Writer: Elise Vider