In a handful of food science labs around the country, people who talk about food in terms of microbes and polymers have been turning the natural pathogen fighters found in everyday food into edible films and powders. If their work pans out, thin films woven with a thyme derivative that can kill E. coli could line bags of fresh spinach. As shoppers demand safer food, they’re also demanding healthier food made with ingredients they can pronounce. “We’re working on consumer-friendly antimicrobials, so people will read the package label and not freak out,” said Mark Daeschel, a professor of food science at OSU, who teamed up with the food scientist Yanyun Zhao to engineer an
edible film made from a fiber found in crab and shrimp shells.
Envision an economical and simple wastewater treatment system that provides both clean water and generates electricity for people in countries with limited access to both.
Such a system is possible thanks to revolutionary research by OSU biological and ecological engineering professor Hong Liu and her colleagues. Liu’s team specializes in microbial fuel cells (MFCs), devices that convert biodegradable materials, such as pollutants in wastewater, into electricity using bacteria. As the bacteria consume the pollutants, they shed excess electrons, which flow through a circuit and generate electricity. In the process, pollutants are broken down, resulting in clean water.
Kaichang Li, the Oregon State University professor who invented a non-toxic
adhesive for production of wood composite panels, has been recognized
with a 2007 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.
Changing a baby’s diaper is one of the least inspiring activities imaginable. However, when Hong Liu changes her 1-year-old son, Joshua, she finds herself imagining a cleaner, brighter future, in which biological waste becomes a source of electricity for houses and hydrogen for cars. Rinsing out a diaper (and flushing gallons of water to a distant treatment plant) or tossing out a disposable (and shipping it to a landfill), Liu thinks about a different kind of waste, about the inefficient use of resources. "I think about all this wastefulness," she says. "It is my hope that we can make use of biological waste, collect energy from it, and not send it to some central place for disposal."
For Liu, extracting energy from wastewater is no pipe dream. She is developing a microbial fuel cell as a way of harnessing electricity from wastewater.
OSU wood science professor Kaichang Li combined an exotic form of an amino acid - used by mussels to
stick to rocks - with soy flour to make a new, high-strength adhesive.
The new glue helps in manufacturing natural-looking plywood without
cancer-causing chemicals such as formaldehyde.
What do you get when you cross an egg white with a crabshell? You get a thin film that prevents food from spoiling and can be eaten along with the food that it wraps. No joke. It can even be fortified with vitamins and minerals so the food and the film together make a more nutritious fare.
This super packaging is the latest technology from OSU's Department of Food Science and Technology. The film combines two key ingredients: a fiber from shellfish (chitosan) and a protein from egg whites (lysozyme). Its discovery combines the ingenuity of two OSU researchers: Yanyun Zhao, a food technologist and specialist in value-added products, and Mark Daeschel, a microbiologist and specialist in food safety.
Many of researcher Lia Danelishvili’s American counterparts only know her native Georgia as a country because the recent conflict with Russia made news here. For the rest, the mention of Georgia conjures up the American state of Georgia, a place she has never been. On Monday, Danelishvili presented OSU with a Georgian flag to hang along with the others displayed in the Memorial Union concourse. The flag will be the 128th national emblem placed there.