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  4. August 7, 2008/Vol. 31, No. 3



Bosco Plaza fountain

To meet a goal of replacing one-third of the nation's petroleum consumption with biofuels by the year 2030, the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Energy estimate it will require 1 billion dry tons of biomass for conversion to biofuels.

But critical barriers exist. One roadblock is as old as agriculture: getting the crop to the market, or in this case, getting tons of biomass to the nearest storage and ethanol production facilities.

K-State researchers will address logistics hurdles with a $690,000 grant from the Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Section in conjunction with the Department of Energy. The three-year proof-of-concept project is the first of its kind to test the notion of making biomass pellets near the field and assessing the effect of pelletizing through to ethanol conversion. Pelletizing reduces the enormous volume of plant material.

Donghai WangResearchers are Scott Staggenborg, associate professor of agronomy and principal investigator; Leland McKinney, assistant professor and extension state leader in grain science and industry; Donghai Wang, pictured at left, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering; and Praveen Vadlani, assistant professor of grain science and industry.

The logistics surrounding biomass is the one thing that might keep biomass conversion from ever being as big as hoped, Staggenborg said.

"The hay paradigm won't work; that is, thinking we'll grow crops and haul plant residue to a production facility and store it," he said.

On the other hand, pellets can be transported efficiently and they can be handled like grain with existing equipment.

In 2007, agronomists grew test plots to get an idea of how various sorghum species compare to corn.

After one season, the photoperiod-sensitive sorghum is showing biomass potential in the drier conditions of Kansas. Staggenborg said the plant is "unbelievable" in its vegetative or biomass production, and that it never puts on a head of grain. Sweet sorghum also excelled in the 2007 trials, he said.

McKinney, a grain and feed scientist, will assess what it takes to make good pellets using off-the-shelf technology.

Wang, the project's agricultural engineer, will determine the preprocessing methods best suited for treating biomass pellets.

Vadlani, a fermentation specialist with K-State's Bioprocessing and Industrial Value-Added Program, will convert pellets to cellulosic ethanol. He thinks the ethanol production should be efficient and yield higher overall cost benefits.




Ming-Shun Chen, Yoonseong Park, Jeremy Marshall, John C. Reese, entomology; Neal Dittmer and Gerald R. Reeck, biochemistry; published "A Protein from the Salivary Glands of the Pea Aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, is Essential in Feeding on a Host Plant," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 105, No. 29.

More Noteworthy



On the lookout for leadership

It falls to Fred Fairchild, president of K-State's faculty senate for 2008-09, to help lead the university to a new leader. Read more


Group goes back in time, again

Just as prehistoric peoples kept returning to a riverbank in Leavenworth County, so too do Brad Logan and his troop of anthropology students. Read more


Program delves into magic of children's literature

For Philip Nel, director of K-State's program in children's literature, kids and adults are not all that different when it comes to books. Read more



The green machine

A visitor is likely to find Ben Champion, Rhodes scholar, Eagle Scout, working in his office with the lights turned off. Read more





Kirk Demuth will be the director of the unmanned aerial systems program office at K-State at Salina.

UNMANNED AIRCRAFTThe office is the first major initiative of K-State's recently formed Applied Aviation Research Center.

"Kirk will be working to develop policies and procedures in order to incorporate and facilitate the entry of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace," said Kurt Barnhart, head of K-State at Salina's department of aviation. "In addition, Kirk will be trained as an unmanned aerial vehicle operator and be closely involved with the hands-on field work of unmanned aerial vehicle operations."

Demuth has more than 1,000 hours of unmanned aerial vehicle formation flying as a chase plane observer for the Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles. Most recently, he served as chief pilot and maintenance director for Chalk 2 Aviation in Victorville, Calif.



John Blair, university distinguished professor of ecology, and Lorena Passarelli, associate professor of molecular biology, have been appointed associate directors of Kansas State University's Division of Biology.

"The addition of Dr.. Blair and Dr. Passarelli as associate directors adds outstanding teaching and research achievements, as well as discipline breadth, gender perspective and multicultural diversity to our administrative team," said Brian Spooner, university distinguished professor and director of the Division of Biology.

As associate directors, Blair will focus on faculty development, while Passarelli's focus will be on student development.




USDA lauds bioenergy efforts

K-State was one of 16 universities nationwide recognized for bioenergy initiatives by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at Bio Energy Awareness Days in Washington, D.C., in June.

K-State won a Grand Challenge award for a vision paper, "Food, Feed, Energy and Ecosystem Services: A Role for American Agriculture." Co-authors are agronomy professors Charles W. Rice and Scott Staggenborg, and Richard Nelson, associate professor and head of the Kansas Industrial Extension Service. The Grand Challenge is the major award made during the event.






Visitors to campus no longer can obtain free parking passes. Instead, visitors must use parking meters or purchase a $4 permit at the information booth south of the K-State Student Union.

The permits also are available from parking services, 108 Edwards Hall, and at the police dispatch office, also in Edwards Hall.



The office of disability services is joining information technology services and the Division of Continuing Education to present course accessibility workshops.

Sue Maes"As more and more faculty are incorporating visual and interactive media into their classes, K-State needs to ensure that the content is available to all learners, including those with disabilities," said Sue Maes, pictured at left, interim dean of Continuing Education.

The workshops, 9:30-10:30 a.m. Aug. 14 and repeated at 2-3 p.m. Sept. 25, will take place in the Hemisphere Room of Hale Library.

The agenda will include a short demonstration of adaptive software and hardware, a review of the course accessibility standards policy, and the top ways to make course content accessible.

To register visit

All information also will be made available at



Members of the medical, veterinary and public health communities are invited to "One Medicine, One Health," a free half-day symposium Aug. 25 that features several K-State experts on the links between animal and human health.

Part of the Central Veterinary Conference at the Kansas City Convention Center, the symposium and accompanying lunch are free but registration is required. Visit the Web site

Among the speakers are David G. Renter, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, and Ludek Zurek, assistant professor of entomology.



Drink books, accompanied by swizzle sticks, tiki glasses, pink elephants and little paper umbrellas, are the subject of an exhibition on display through Sept. 10 at Hale Library.

"Happy Hour!: Top Shelf Selections from Special Collections" is on view from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays in the library's gallery on the fifth floor.

The free exhibition is organized by Hale Library's Morse department of special collections, which is home to one of the largest and most comprehensive cookery collections in the United States.




• A recording of classified job opportunities is available 24 hours a day on the Employment Information Line, 785-532-6271.

• A list of employment opportunities is posted at

• For additional information, call 785-532-6277 or come to the Division of Human Resources in 103 Edwards Hall. Applications are accepted 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekdays.


• A complete listing of vacancies can be seen at

• For additional information, call the office of affirmative action at 785-532-6220 or come by 214 Anderson Hall.