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K-State Today

September 15, 2017

Pollution Prevention Institute Intern Program participants to present industry-based environmental research

Submitted by Kevin Moluf

The Kansas State University Pollution Prevention Institute Intern Program, a project branch under Engineering Extension, will conclude its 12th year on Friday, Sept. 15. The program also operates the Kansas Small Business Environmental Assistance Program.

In summer 2017, eight students from engineering and environmental science worked with supervisors at their host companies to research projects that reduce industrial emissions and wastes and conserve natural resources. Over the past 12 years, recommendations to more than 43 institutions from the program's 90 interns, if implemented, would collectively realize industry savings of more than $12.5 million.

As part of the program requirements, the interns will present their findings to Region 7 representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, at the K-State Pollution Prevention Institute in the Unger Complex, 2323 Anderson Ave., Suite 300. The presentations also will be streamed via Zoom. View the presentation schedule and more information online

This year's interns researched options for controlling open water flows, cycling of cooling water, upgrading ovens and water heaters, recycling wood and plastic waste, and updating lighting fixtures. Several interns also completed a classic project by auditing the compressed air lines for leaks in their facilities and writing procedures for a proactive leak maintenance program. These projects would yield an estimated combined savings of 2,800 megawatts of electricity; 54 million gallons fresh water; 30,000 therms of natural gas; 1,354 tons of solid waste and a total greenhouse gas reduction of 5,400 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent.

The following are 2017 K-State interns; included is their host companies: 

  • Carolyn Countess, senior in industrial engineering, CST Storage in Parsons. 
  • Jacob Larson, senior in chemical engineering, Tyson Fresh Meats in Emporia. 
  • Rachel Lasseter, senior in biological systems engineering, Johnson County Food Policy Council in Olathe. 
  • Sarif Patwary, graduate student in apparel and textiles, Grandview Products in Parsons. 
  • Sam Reesor, senior in chemical engineering, Compass Minerals in Lyons.
  • Robert Weil, graduate student in civil engineering, Smithfield Foods in Junction City. 
  • Travis Wiederstein, senior in biological systems engineering, various facilities in Kansas. 

Venkatesan Gunasekaran, graduate student in industrial engineering at Wichita State University, Food Recovery Network, also will present research at the event. 

By linking host industries with interns from engineering and environmental science backgrounds, the program seeks to identify and implement projects that will reduce or eliminate sources of energy and water use, air emissions, hazardous and solid waste, water contaminants and employee risk. Hosting an intern provides companies with a chance to tackle projects that, otherwise, no one might have time to pursue or that might go ignored as part of day-to-day operations.