In June 2003, WTC awarded R&D funding to five company-university research teams through its Research & Technology Development (RTD) program. This round of projects is supporting advances in environmental wind forecasting, processing manure as a fuel source, improving power toothbrushes, developing light weight wood-plastic lumber, and devising a novel fruit processing technique. A summary of these research collaborations is featured below.
3TIER Environmental Forecast Group, Seattle
Researcher: Dr. Tilmann Gneiting, UW Dept. of Statistics
3TIER Environmental Forecast Group is a technology company that uses advanced weather and environmental forecasting techniques and computer-based modeling strategies for forecasting renewable energies. The company is researching more accurate methods of short-term forecasting wind energy, the world’s fastest growing energy generation source. In conjunction with Dr. Gneiting, 3TIER is developing an algorithm for short-term wind forecasting using multivariate time series and geostatistical space-time techniques.
Andgar Corp., Ferndale
Researcher: Dr. Shulin Chen, WSU Dept. of Biological Systems Engineering
Livestock producers are under increasing pressure, including legal action, to manage manure and process water in a way that controls odors and protects environmental quality. Livestock and livestock products are a $1.5 billion industry in Washington. Anaerobic digesters, also known as biogas recovery systems, are one possible solution to better management of manure and process water.
Anaerobic digesters use bacteria to breakdown the manure in a chamber while capturing methane, one of the by-products that can be used to generate heat or electricity. Andgar Corporation, based in Ferndale, has expertise in fabrication of components and construction of digesters. Andgar is collaborating with Dr. Shulin Chen to refine development of an enzymatic pretreatment to enable smaller more efficient reaction chambers that put anaerobic digestion within financial reach of more livestock producers.
Second Act Partners, Inc., Sammamish
Researcher: Dr. Pierre Mourad, UW Applied Physics Laboratory
Power toothbrushes have proven to offer clear clinical advantages over manual brushing. Some models have bristles that move at a sonic speed — i.e., a frequency that can be heard. Dr. Mourad and his investigators are working to develop a power brush using a technology that they believe will improve the ability to clean the teeth and gums. Their research will test a prototype using various combinations of bristle motions. Second Act Partners, a startup company, will draw upon their considerable experience to define the technical requirements of the product for market success.
Shoreline Industries LLC, Sedro Woolley
Researcher: Dr. Karl Englund, WSU Wood Materials and Engineering Lab
Wood plastic composites (WPCs) continue to be an attractive alternative to chemically treated wood and plastic lumber due to their dimensional stability and resistance to bio-deterioration. However, current WPCs are heavy, which has prompted the development of hollow foamed composites to reduce the weight. Dr. Englund and his colleagues at WSU’s Wood Materials and Engineering Lab (WMEL) have worked to develop such structural and foamed WPC products. Shoreline Industries, a manufacturer of vinyl-based composite lumber, is using WMEL’s resources to develop and test new composites and extrusion methods for PVC/wood flour foamed composites specifically for the residential decking industry.
Washington Farms, Inc., Tacoma
Researcher: Dr. Barry Swanson, WSU Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Washington Farms produces 100% fruit pies sold in the Seattle area. The company’s ability to market their products outside the state will be made possible by using ultra high pressure technology that pasteurizes fruit products to extend shelf life and maintain a desirable “fresh-like” flavor. In this project, the company will work with Drs. Barry Swanson and Dong-Hyun Kang at WSU’s Dept of Food Science and Human Nutrition to develop a process of fruit processing that will inactivate harmful bacteria such as E. coli, inactivate enzymes that “brown” fruit, and maintain “fresh-like” appearance, flavor and texture.
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