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Food and Bio-Renewable Processing

Food and Bio-Renewable Processing research involves the development of value-added products, such as ethanol and its by-products, biomass conversion and vegetable oils.

Contact: Lin Wei

Title: Biopolymer-based Functional Nanocomposites from Agricultural Residues and Forest Wastes for Smart Packaging Applications

Summary: Smart packaging market is driven by continually increasing demand for improving health, safety and authenticity in food and beverage, healthcare, personal care and other industries in the last decades. This research aims to develop innovative processes to produce biopolymer-based functional nanocomposites (BFNs) from agricultural residues and/or forest wastes for smart packaging applications. Compared to conventional packaging materials, bio-based nanocomposites are sustainable and have less environmental impacts because of the uses of renewable, readily available, biodegradable and inexpensive biomass feedstocks and innovative technologies. Successfully developing such processes will not only improve the viability of biorefinery but help to address the issues caused by fossil fuel depletion, national energy security and climate change.

Contact: Lin Wei

Title: Biochar-based Smart Control Release Fertilizers to Improve Sustainability of Precision Agriculture

Summary: This research aims to develop smart biochar-based controlled-release fertilizer (BCRF) technologies to increase fertilizer use efficiency while minimizing nutrient loss into air or leaching into water to improve agriculture sustainability. Successfully developing and commercializing such technologies will significantly enhance cost effectiveness and sustainability of agricultural production for food safety and security, soil health and water resource and water quality protection.

Contact: Lin Wei

Title: Coating 2-Dimensional Materials on Metal Surface for Inhibition of Biofilm Formation through Plasma-Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition

Summary: Bacterial cell attachment and subsequent formation of biofilms on surfaces of equipment have caused a loss of billions of dollars in many industries every year. Biofilms represent a ubiquitous and predominant cause of biocorrosion and/or clogging both outside and inside surfaces of pipelines in oil and gas refinery, food processing and medical devices. This research aims to develop an effective plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) process to prevent and eradicate biofilm on surfaces of metal materials while minimizing waste generation and environmental impact. Successfully developing such technology will help not only with improving the lifetime of industrial equipment and maximizing economic returns of production, but also in reducing the loss caused by biocorrosion and biofouling in the industries.

Contact: Zhengrong Gu

Title: Rational Synthesis and Application of Biorenewable Graphene

Summary: To improve energy generation efficiency of microbial fuel-cell, Li-battery, supercapacitor and CO2 electrochemical reduction.

Contact:Zhengrong Gu

Title: Natural Bioactive Products as Preservatives of Fresh Produce

Summary: My group will develop innovative glucosinolate (GLS) (from Camelina sativa and/or canola meal) based sustain releasing postharvest preservative to significantly improve shelf-life and quality of organic fresh produces, such as berries, spinach and other vegetables. The GLS based postharvest preservative will not only reduce postharvest loss due to gray mold (Botrytis cinerea) but also significantly improve food safety of organic fresh produces through inhibiting growth of  pathogenic microbial, such as E. coli and Penicillium. Furthermore, the innovative GLS based sustain releasing preservative will also benefit farmers and processors of other organic fresh produce, such as vegetables and meats, as well as to significantly improve food safety, minimize income loss and reduce recall risk through sustain inhibiting pathogenic microbial.