OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

engineering and technology

New type of cement could offer environmental protection, lower cost

CORVALLIS, Ore. – If widely adopted, a new approach to making cement could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, help address global warming, produce a more durable concrete, and save industry time and significant costs.     

The findings of a recent study show great potential for a type of cement that gains strength through carbonation, rather than the use of water. Concrete made with this cement also appears to better resist some of the most common de-icing salts that can lead to failure and dramatically reduce the lifespan of roads.

The research was published in Construction and Building Materials, by engineers from Oregon State University, Purdue University and Solidia Technologies. This work was supported in part by Solidia Technologies, which licensed core technology from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. 

“Instead of water reacting with cement, this carbonated cement reacts with carbon dioxide and calcium silicate,” said Jason Weiss, the Miles Lowell and Margaret Watt Edwards Distinguished Chair in the OSU College of Engineering.

“This new product at first blush looks like conventional concrete, but it has properties that should make it last longer in some applications,” Weiss said. “In addition, use of it could reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which is an important goal of the cement industry.” 

Crude cement was used by the Egyptians to build the pyramids, improved during the time of the Roman Empire, and reached its modern form around 180 years ago. When used to make concrete – a combination of cement, sand and crushed rock - it’s one of the most proven building materials in human history.

This is actually part of the problem – concrete works so well, for so many uses, that 2-4 tons per year are produced for every person on Earth. It’s popular, plentiful, cost effective, and research is continuing to reduce its environmental impact. Production of the cement used in concrete is believed to be responsible for 5-8 percent of the global emissions of carbon dioxide, largely just because so much concrete is used. 

The cement industry has committed itself to the goal of cutting those emissions in half, and this new approach might help. Beyond that, the new research shows the ability of this “carbonated calcium silicate-based cement,” or CCSC, to be far more resistant to degradation from deicing salts such as sodium chloride and magnesium chloride.

“In places where deicing salts are routinely used, they can cause damage to roadways that cost about $1 million a mile to fix, and can reduce a 40-year lifespan of a surface to as little as 8-10 years,” Weiss said. “By using a type of cement that requires carbon dioxide to make, and in turn greatly extend the lifespan of some roads, the environmental benefits could be enormous.” 

These products are just now being developed and tested, Weiss said, and some obstacles exist to their widespread, global use. New construction codes and standards would need to be developed. However, the new approach has already been adapted to existing raw materials, formulas and equipment.

Some of the first uses of these products, Weiss said, will be in pre-cast concrete products that can be created in a factory and transported to where they are needed. More ambitious and widespread use of the new approach may take longer. Other technologies, such as topical treatments to resist deicing salts, or the use of waste products to produce supplemental cements, may gain earlier use to address some of these issues. 

In the latest research, the new CCSC concrete was shown not to react with deicing chemicals in the way that conventional concrete does. Such chemicals can cause a serious and premature deterioration in concrete pavements, even if the concrete does not experience freezing and thawing.

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Jason Weiss, 541-737-1885 or Jason.weiss@oregonstate.edu

Culture, crowding and social influence all tied to aggressive driving behavior

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A study of angry, competitive and aggressive driving suggests that these dangerous behaviors are becoming a worldwide phenomenon of almost epidemic proportions, and are a reflection of a person’s surrounding culture, both on the road and on a broader social level.

The research was done with drivers in China where competitive driving is very common. It concluded that such behavior is more pronounced in men than in women, and is partly a reaction to overcrowded road networks. The study also implies that different social conditions might ultimately translate into better drivers. 

The findings have been published in Procedia Engineering by researchers from Oregon State University, the Beijing University of Technology, and the Ministry of Transport of the People’s Republic of China. It was supported by the Beijing Municipal Education Commission.

At its worst, aggressive driving can be seen as “road rage” leading to serious or fatal accidents. In lesser forms it is viewed as “competitive” behavior that includes speeding, crowding or lane-hopping that drivers often use to gain a few minutes in an urban rush hour. In all its variations, this behavior is a problem that appears to be increasing. The American Automobile Association estimated that 56 percent of accidents involve aggressive driving. 

“China is a good place to study competitive driving because it’s very common there,” said Haizhong Wang, an assistant professor of transportation engineering in the OSU College of Engineering. “Roads are overcrowded, there’s less traffic control, and many drivers are younger or have little training or experience.”

The problems in China as it becomes increasingly crowded with drivers, however, reflect similar concerns at varying levels around the world, Wang said. Urban areas and road networks are becoming more crowded and congested. Research such as this may help to better understand the underlying human and psychological behaviors that come into play. 

In this analysis, the researchers concluded that drivers in congested situations generally believed that the chaotic traffic state was responsible for their competitive behavior, and they had no option other than to compete for space, the right-of-way, and gain advantages through speed and spacing. In simple terms, it was right and proper that they should try to keep up with or get ahead of traffic; that was the example being set for them, and they drove that way because everyone else did.

However, the study also suggested that “personality traits draw on and are influenced by aspects of one’s social environment.” The researchers said in their report that this indicates some countries and cultures may be more susceptible due to their social environment, and that improvements in that arena would also be seen in driving behavior. 

“The choice to be competitive versus cooperative always starts with culture, by the influences around us and the way other people behave,” Wang said. “And it’s clear there’s a role for education and experience, where studies have shown the value of young drivers participating in driver education programs and receiving positive guidance from their parents and peers.”

Part of the concerns in China at the moment, Wang said, may evolve from many new drivers just in the past 20 years who drive in a very challenging environment. But, as a developing nation which until recently had comparatively few automobiles, China doesn’t have generations of experience and support systems to draw upon. The result is a high level of accidents, injuries and fatalities. 

As more areas around the world see increasing traffic congestion, Wang said, part of the psychological challenge will be to retain a sense of personal responsibility, avoid mimicking dangerous behaviors of other drivers, and strive for a level of tolerance, courtesy and personal cooperation essential for safe driving.

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Haizhong Wang, 541-737-8538 or Haizhong.wang@oregonstate.edu; Jianjun Shi, +86-13801380862, jjshi@bjut.edu.cn

School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science names new head

CORVALLIS, Ore. – V. John Mathews, an expert in biomedical signal and information processing with a track record for growing research funding and student enrollment, has been selected as the new head of the Oregon State University School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).

Mathews comes to Oregon State after 30 years with the University of Utah, where he has been a professor since 1995 and served as chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering for four years. Under his leadership, the department's research funding tripled, the state-funded departmental budget grew more than 40 percent, three advanced teaching laboratories were created with industry funding, the number of graduate students nearly doubled and the undergraduate student enrollment increased by 50 percent.

"We're excited to have Professor Mathews join Oregon State’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,” said Scott Ashford, dean of OSU’s College of Engineering. “His leadership will build on the school's national reputation as a center of teaching and research excellence and innovation.

“We also will grow the school’s unique approach to collaboration with industry and our college's growing emphasis on precision health and bioengineering,"

Mathews said he is committed to help create a strategic vision and sustain an environment within the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science that attracts and retains the highest-quality faculty, students and staff.

"Great faculty members bring about great teaching, research and relationships with industry – all of which raises a school's reputation, draws top students and produces successful graduates, who not only contribute to industry and society, but who also ultimately give back to the school in powerful and positive ways,” Mathews said.

Mathews' research is in nonlinear and adaptive signal processing and the application of signal processing techniques in audio and communication systems, biomedical engineering and structural health management.

His research has led to development of tools for understanding the evolution of the placental circulation system and relationships between maternal and fetal circulation systems. These tools include a system for early detection of preeclampsia, a disease that affects between six and eight percent of all pregnant women and is one of the major causes of maternal and fetal death.

Research by Mathews' group at the University of Utah is also focused on the functional electrical stimulation of nerve fibers to evoke motor activity in patients with diseases of the central nervous system and neural prosthetic controllers for patients with limb loss.

Mathews has published more than 150 technical papers and is the inventor on seven patents.

He was elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 2002 for contributions to the theory and application of nonlinear and adaptive filtering, and has held numerous leadership positions with the IEEE Signal Processing Society, including vice president of finance and vice president of conferences, dating back to 2003.

Mathews holds master's and doctoral degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Iowa, and a bachelor's of engineering in electronics and communication engineering from the University of Madras, India.

Source: 

Steve Clark, 541-737-4875 or steve.clark@oregonstate.edu

OSU to expand collaboration, outreach on UAVs, sensing technologies

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has formed a new group to organize and expand its work and collaboration with unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, as well as marine and terrestrial technologies, sensing and imaging systems.

This Autonomous Systems Research Group will help facilitate work on campus, but also conduct public outreach and collaborative work with private industry and government agencies.

“Advanced aerial, terrestrial and marine systems are all being developed with highly sophisticated technologies for a wide variety of uses,” said Ronald Adams, interim vice president for research at OSU.

Those uses can include assuring safe and secure sources of food through precision agriculture; tracking and responding to changes in ocean and coastal systems; understanding the impacts of climate change and natural disasters; applications in natural resources and forest management; and deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies in industry.

“These are all areas of traditional OSU research impact and consistent with our commitments as a land, sea, space and sun grant institution,” Adams said.

“Membership in this research group will be open to all researchers interested in advancing and applying these technologies,” he said. “We hope it will help us build new connections while we pursue learning, research and problem-solving opportunities provided by these tools.”

A five-member steering committee has been named to represent the primary colleges and entities at OSU that will be involved in this initiative.

Goals of the research group include:

  • Support Oregon’s designation as an FAA-approved test site to study the academic and commercial use of UAVs in the national air space.
  • Share knowledge and collaborate with a large group of Pacific Northwest industries and government bodies.
  • Facilitate safe flight operations and respond to required legal and liability issues.
  • Help obtain the certificates of authorization required by the FAA for university flight operations.
  • Develop or certify an airborne operations group to simplify safe airborne access.

Communications programs and quarterly campus meetings will be conducted to help facilitate all these goals, officials said.

Media Contact: 

Ann Schmierer, 541-737-1180

Source: 

Ronald Adams, 541-737-7722 or Ronald.lynn.adams@oregonstate.edu

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Aerial monitoring

Unmanned aerial vehicle

Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator accepting applications

CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator program is seeking participants for its next cohort, which begins in January 2015 and runs for five months.

Applications from innovative and high-growth traded sector companies that produce goods and services used outside the region are encouraged. Eligibility information can be found on the website.

The program offers an opportunity for entrepreneurs to expand their businesses, connect with industry professionals, gain access to OSU venture development funds, and work with an advisory team to accelerate company development.

“We are taking advantage of the many resources available for clients, and thanks to the accelerator our business is now ready to take off,” said client Stan Baker, with Baker Seed Technologies. “The accelerator is a proven springboard to success.”

The five-month curriculum uses a proven methodology to guide emerging enterprises from infancy to independence, officials say. More information and an application is available on the website, at www.oregonstate.edu/accelerator, and applications will be followed by an interview with the co-directors and a formal presentation to the entrance committee.

Source: 

Betty Nickerson, 541-368-5205

OSU to celebrate Johnson Hall construction on Sept. 15

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will celebrate the construction launch of its newest engineering building on Monday, Sept. 15, and the public is invited.

A ceremony and reception will begin at 1:30 p.m. to honor the donors who made this facility project possible and celebrate the impact it will make on OSU’s education and research programs, especially in the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering. The events will take place at the building site at S.W. Park Terrace Place and Monroe Avenue, just north of Kelley Engineering Center.

Speakers include Julia Brim-Edwards, an OSU alumna and senior director for Global Strategy & Operations for Nike Corporation’s Government and Public Affairs team. She serves on the Oregon Education Investment Board.

The state-of-the-art, 58,000-square-foot engineering building is designed to be a place of collaboration and innovation in education and research for faculty, students and industry professionals. It will include labs for interdisciplinary research and a center focused on improving recruitment and retention of engineering students.

The building bears the name, and will continue the innovative legacy, of Peter and Rosalie Johnson. A 1955 Oregon State chemical engineering graduate, Peter Johnson revolutionized battery manufacturing equipment with his trademarked invention for making battery separator envelopes.

The Johnsons committed $7 million to begin construction on the new facility, leveraging an earlier gift of $10 million from an anonymous donor and $3 million in additional private funds, matched by $20 million in state funds.

In addition to being the lead donors for the facility initiative, the Johnsons previously created the Pete and Rosalie Johnson Internship program, which provides opportunities to at least two dozen Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering students annually. They also established the Linus Pauling Chair in chemical engineering to support a faculty member with industry experience who mentors students. The position currently is held by Philip Harding.

“We are so pleased that this new facility will honor the Johnsons and be a place dedicated to supporting the same areas they have always emphasized: collaborative research and hands-on learning for students,” said Scott Ashford, dean of the College of Engineering and Kearney Professor.

“Their investment, and that of our other generous donors, will have a powerful impact on Oregon and our world,” added Ashford, a 1983 OSU alumnus.

Johnson Hall follows two other major facility projects for the College of Engineering during The Campaign for OSU: construction of the $45 million, 153,000-square-foot Kelley Engineering Center, completed in 2005; and the $12 million complete renovation of historic Kearney Hall, completed in 2009. The university will celebrate donors to The Campaign for OSU during Homecoming Week on Friday, Oct. 31, at a public showcase and reception.

Source: 

Molly Brown, 541-737-3602

Walmart and The Walmart Foundation award OSU grant to help boost U.S. manufacturing

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has been chosen for one of the first seven grants from the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund created by Walmart and The Walmart Foundation to help accelerate manufacturing in the United States.

The $590,000 grant will support the development of innovations in plastics injection molding – one of the most common manufacturing processes for making consumer products – in which melted plastic resins are injected into a shaped cavity made by two metallic molds.

“Current practices for fabricating these molds are labor-intensive and costly, and much of the mold material is wasted as metal chips,” said Sundar V. Atre, OSU associate professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering. “We estimate that mold-making costs can be reduced by 40 to 50 percent.”

“That will give U.S. manufacturing an edge,” Atre added.

The Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, in collaboration with the Conference of Mayors, will provide a total of $10 million in grants over the next five years. The first $4 million in grants were announced Thursday (Aug. 14) at the 2014 U.S. Manufacturing Summit in Denver.

“Researchers at many of America’s best universities are hard at work on tough manufacturing challenges,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of The Walmart Foundation. “We are excited to support the development of innovative solutions, which we hope will unlock new opportunity for manufacturing in this country.” 

Mayor Julie Manning of Corvallis noted that her city has earned a national reputation for innovation, ranking fourth last year in a report of patents per capita.

“A manufacturing renaissance is taking place in our region,” she said. “This project builds on the steps taken in recent years to more closely align the economic development strategy of Corvallis and Benton County with the growing success of Oregon State University and other local employers in fostering innovation and job creation.”

Over the course of the three-year project, Atre and his co-principal investigator, Oregon State mechanical engineering assistant professor Rajiv Malhotra, will work with three industrial partners – Metal Technology, Inc., in neighboring Albany, Ore., plus Arburg and North American Höganäs – to develop and test their manufacturing innovations. Part of the work will take place at the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute, collaboratively managed by OSU and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The team will work with the OSU Advantage Accelerator to develop a commercialization plan. This program helps move promising ideas out of the laboratory and into the marketplace, strengthening the economy.

Atre’s and Malhotra’s project is a prime example of the university’s leading-edge research that creates a better future for Oregon and the nation, said Robert B. Stone, head of OSU’s School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering.

“Making U.S. manufacturing more competitive globally is something all of us can relate to,” Stone said. “When we shop, we know the ‘Made in the USA’ label signifies jobs and stronger communities. This support from Walmart, The Walmart Foundation and the Conference of Mayors represents a vote of confidence in our track record at Oregon State of doing research with real-world impact, as we work in partnership with industry.”

In 2010 alone the U.S. plastics industry produced an estimated 16 billion pounds of injection-molded products for applications in packaging, electronics, housewares and biomedical areas.

The grant to Oregon State is part of The Campaign for OSU, which has raised more than $1.06 billion to support university priorities, including more than $140 million in private faculty research grants. The university community will celebrate the campaign’s impact Oct. 31 during Homecoming.

 

Media Contact: 

Michelle Williams, 541-737-6126

Source: 

Sundar V. Atre, 541-908-1483; Rajiv Malhotra, 541-737-5621

Phillips named director for OSU Office of Research Development

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Mary Phillips has been named director for the Office of Research Development, a new unit within the Research Office, effective Dec. 1.

Phillips is associate director for the Office for Commercialization and Corporate Development, where she oversees the management of intellectual property and licensing of OSU inventions. In her new role, Phillips will work with faculty and academic units to identify and pursue major funding opportunities, including federal, non-profit and corporate sources.

The creation of the Office for Research Development is a proactive step by the Research Office that addresses the challenge and goals articulated in the OSU research agenda by providing strategic institutional support for successful proposal development, Phillips said.

"What excites me about this position is the role I will play in developing new approaches that will enable our faculty to be highly competitive in securing grant funding in these times of dwindling federal funding and sequestration," Phillips noted. "This in itself is a grand challenge."

Vice President for Research Rick Spinrad said there is a lot of untapped potential for building OSU’s capacity and reputation.

“By establishing an Office of Research Development, we have created the structure to engage in strategic positioning of our research enterprise, long before specific solicitations for research are issued,” Spinrad said. “As part of OSU’s research agenda we are striving to diversify our sponsorship base.  We’ve done this very successfully with our industry engagement (40 percent increase in two years), now we have the staff and organization to start doing the same with other sponsors, notably federal agencies.”

Spinrad anticipates that OSU will dramatically increase the number of federal agencies supporting its research, and that OSU will take a much more forward-leaning posture in driving the research interests of traditional sponsors. 

“In addition, Mary’s role will allow us to be much more effective in strengthening our proposal efforts - for example by being more strategic in how we address ‘broader impacts,’” Spinrad said. “This is particularly important as general decreases in federal funding for research make for an even more competitive environment.”

Phillips will be supported by an advisory group that will consist of senior faculty representing each of the divisions within the university.

Prior to joining OSU in 2006, Phillips began her career in university technology transfer in 2001 at Oregon Health and Science University. She has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of London’s Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine and gained postdoctoral experience in the areas of laser spectroscopy and molecular biology at the University of Oregon. 

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Mary Phillips

541-737-4437

Electronics advance moves closer to a world beyond silicon

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University have made a significant advance in the function of metal-insulator-metal, or MIM diodes, a technology premised on the assumption that the speed of electrons moving through silicon is simply too slow.

For the extraordinary speed envisioned in some future electronics applications, these innovative diodes solve problems that would not be possible with silicon-based materials as a limiting factor.

The new diodes consist of a “sandwich” of two metals, with two insulators in between, to form “MIIM” devices. This allows an electron not so much to move through materials as to tunnel through insulators and appear almost instantaneously on the other side. It’s a fundamentally different approach to electronics.

The newest findings, published in Applied Physics Letters, have shown that the addition of a second insulator can enable “step tunneling,” a situation in which an electron may tunnel through only one of the insulators instead of both. This in turn allows precise control of diode asymmetry, non-linearity, and rectification at lower voltages.

“This approach enables us to enhance device operation by creating an additional asymmetry in the tunnel barrier,” said John F. Conley, Jr., a professor in the OSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “It gives us another way to engineer quantum mechanical tunneling and moves us closer to the real applications that should be possible with this technology.”

OSU scientists and engineers, who only three years ago announced the creation of the first successful, high-performance MIM diode, are international leaders in this developing field. Conventional electronics based on silicon materials are fast and inexpensive, but are reaching the top speeds possible using those materials. Alternatives are being sought.

More sophisticated microelectronic products could be possible with the MIIM diodes – not only improved liquid crystal displays, cell phones and TVs, but such things as extremely high-speed computers that don’t depend on transistors, or “energy harvesting” of infrared solar energy, a way to produce energy from the Earth as it cools during the night.

MIIM diodes could be produced on a huge scale at low cost, from inexpensive and environmentally benign materials. New companies, industries and high-tech jobs may ultimately emerge from advances in this field, OSU researchers say.

The work by Conley and OSU doctoral student Nasir Alimardani has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute.

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John Conley, 541-737-9874

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MIIM diode

MIIM diode

Pass the salt: Common condiment could enable new high-tech industry

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Chemists at Oregon State University have identified a compound that could significantly reduce the cost and potentially enable the mass commercial production of silicon nanostructures – materials that have huge potential in everything from electronics to biomedicine and energy storage.

This extraordinary compound is called table salt.

Simple sodium chloride, most frequently found in a salt shaker, has the ability to solve a key problem in the production of silicon nanostructures, researchers just announced in Scientific Reports, a professional journal.

By melting and absorbing heat at a critical moment during a “magnesiothermic reaction,” the salt prevents the collapse of the valuable nanostructures that researchers are trying to create. The molten salt can then be washed away by dissolving it in water, and it can be recycled and used again.

The concept, surprising in its simplicity, should open the door to wider use of these remarkable materials that have stimulated scientific research all over the world.

“This could be what it takes to open up an important new industry,” said David Xiulei Ji, an assistant professor of chemistry in the OSU College of Science. “There are methods now to create silicon nanostructures, but they are very costly and can only produce tiny amounts.

“The use of salt as a heat scavenger in this process should allow the production of high-quality silicon nanostructures in large quantities at low cost,” he said. “If we can get the cost low enough many new applications may emerge.”

Silicon, the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, has already created a revolution in electronics. But silicon nanostructures, which are complex structures much smaller than a speck of dust, have potential that goes far beyond the element itself.

Uses are envisioned in photonics, biological imaging, sensors, drug delivery, thermoelectric materials that can convert heat into electricity, and energy storage.

Batteries are one of the most obvious and possibly first applications that may emerge from this field, Ji said. It should be possible with silicon nanostructures to create batteries – for anything from a cell phone to an electric car – that last nearly twice as long before they need recharging.

Existing technologies to make silicon nanostructures are costly, and simpler technologies in the past would not work because they required such high temperatures. Ji developed a methodology that mixed sodium chloride and magnesium with diatomaceous earth, a cheap and abundant form of silicon.

When the temperature reached 801 degrees centigrade, the salt melted and absorbed heat in the process. This basic chemical concept – a solid melting into a liquid absorbs heat – kept the nanostructure from collapsing.

The sodium chloride did not contaminate or otherwise affect the reaction, researchers said. Scaling reactions such as this up to larger commercial levels should be feasible, they said.

The study also created, for the first time with this process, nanoporous composite materials of silicon and germanium. These could have wide applications in semiconductors, thermoelectric materials and electrochemical energy devices.

Funding for the research was provided by OSU. Six other researchers from the Department of Chemistry and the OSU Department of Chemical Engineering also collaborated on the work.

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David Xiulei Ji, 541-737-6798

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Silicon nanostructure

Silicon nanostructures


Table salt

Table salt