Recycling isn’t enough to slow plastic pollution, WA scientists say

Karl Englund PortraitIn a 2021 report funded by the Recycling Development Center, research professor Karl Englund and a civil and environmental engineering team at Washington State University outlined existing chemical and thermal recycling options for plastic — such as heat-intensive solutions like pyrolysis and gasification, or catalyst-based solutions like glycolysis — and assessed their viability to operate in the Pacific Northwest.

“The guys in the plastics world are busting their butt to make this happen,” Englund says. “Do we all need to do more? Yeah. But at least we’re taking steps in the right … » More …

Carbon-negative homes research earns $2.6 million grant

Adam Phillips PortraitA two‑year, $2.6 million U.S. Department of Energy grant will support a team of researchers in designing and building carbon-negative homes to combat climate change in the growing residential construction sector.

“Society needs the built environment. It’s one of those things moving forward that we can’t reduce creating more of, so we need to find a way to do it cleanly,” said Adam Phillips, assistant professor of civil engineering and a co‑principal investigator on the project.  [Read more…]

New way found to turn #7 plastic into valuable products

A method to convert a commonly thrown-away plastic to a resin used in 3D-printing could allow for making better use of plastic waste. A team of Washington State University researchers developed a simple and efficient way to convert polylactic acid (PLA), a bio-based plastic used in products such as filament, plastic silverware and food packaging to a high-quality resin.

“We found a way to immediately turn this into something that’s stronger and better, and we hope that will provide people the incentive to upcycle this stuff instead of just … » More …

Researchers improve cement with shrimp shell nanoparticles

Putting nanoparticles from shrimp shells into cement paste made the material significantly stronger — an innovation that could lead to reduced seafood waste and lower carbon emissions from concrete production.

Reporting in the journal Cement and Concrete Composites, a team of Washington State University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers created nanocrystals and nanofibers of chitin, the second most abundant biopolymer in nature, from waste shrimp shells. When these tiny bits of chitin, which are about 1,000 times smaller than a human hair, were added to cement paste, the resulting material was up to 40% stronger. [Read more…]

WSU Extension Forestry team honored for excellence in education

The WSU Extension Forestry team was honored this summer by the Western Extension Director’s Association for their educational efforts preserving the health and safety of Washington’s private forests.

Team members Andrew Perleberg, Kevin Zobrist, Sean Alexander, Patrick Shults, Rebekah Zimmerer, Grace Garrison, Todd Murray, Vikram Yadama, and Karl Englund received WEDA’s Excellence in Programming award as part of the association’s joint annual meeting, June 29, 2022 in Concord, Calif. [Read more…]

Cougar Cage sets stage for researchers to reduce plastic waste

Post-doctoral research associate Yu-Chung Chang and his team won $50,000 to explore chemical recycling on May 10 at Cougar Cage, hoping to reduce plastic waste in landfills and oceans.

Cougar Cage is an event, like “Shark Tank,” where researchers pitch their project to a panel of judges, who determine if it will benefit the environment and humanity. Researchers also explain how funding can further propel their project, Chang said. [Read more…]

Three projects receive $150,000 in final round of Cougar Cage event

Three projects proposed by Washington State University researchers were awarded $50,000 each in this spring’s Cougar Cage event. Yu-Chung Chang, a postdoctoral research associate, and Professor Jinwen Zhang at the Composite Materials and Engineering Center want to do more than recycle polylactic acid plastics with processing that makes them weaker. In a global market that continues to grow each year, Chang aims to offer a more sustainable and economical alternative to traditional recycling methods. He hopes that through chemical upcycling, plastic can … » More …

WSU Researchers And Tacoma Eco-Building Company Receive Grant To Create Affordable, Sustainable Building Material

WSU researchers and an eco-building startup in Tacoma are teaming up to create affordable and sustainable roofing for consumers across the world.

They have a goal— to make roofing material that is sustainable, adaptable to different parts of the world, and affordable for people living on less than $5 a day.

Dr. Vikram Yadama is a professor at Washington State University and a researcher at the university’s Composite Materials and Engineering Center. Alexa Bednarz is CEO and founder … » More …

National Science Foundation grant supports eco‑friendly roofing

Vikram Yadama has long been passionate about creating sustainable and renewable building materials for affordable housing, but the civil and environmental engineering professor has always been puzzled about one thing: it seems only rich people can afford them.

Hoping to be part of efforts to change that, Yadama and fellow researchers at Washington State University are teaming up with a Tacoma-based start-up to develop environmentally friendly, climate resilient, and affordable roofing materials made from bamboo. [Read More….]

Simpson Strong-Tie Honors Retiring Washington State University Professors as Part of Annual Student Symposium


Simpson Strong-Tie, the leader in engineered structural connectors and building solutions, recognized Washington State University retiring professors Dr. Don Bender, P.E., and Dr. J. Daniel Dolan, P.E., for their significant contributions to our industry in the areas of product testing, research, code development and education, along with their leadership of the Simpson Strong-Tie® Excellence Fund — an eight-year commitment of $100,000 annually to support construction and engineering research at WSU. [Read More…]