Three OSU researchers received grants totaling more than $240,000 last week from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology under its Oklahoma Applied Research Support program. The OARS program backs projects with the potential for producing a commercially successful product, according to the OCAST Web site. Funding is awarded to Oklahoma businesses, universities and non-profit organizations to accelerate the development of technology.

Hongbing Lu, professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering, received $83,168 for two years. Lu will develop multifunctional composites for the interior panels of aircraft using crosslinked aerogels. Noise reduction will be the primary goal of the project. Lu will also test the composite panels for thermal insulation performance and structural load carrying capabilities.

Aerogels are a super-lightweight, highly porous material that provides excellent thermal and acoustic insulation, Lu said. Chemically, however, aerogels are weakly connected, which makes them very fragile. Crosslinked aerogels, developed in 2002 by researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly the University of Missouri at Rolla), are a stronger, more ductile material with high levels of thermal and acoustic insulation.

Yu Mao, professor in biosystems and agricultural engineering, received $90,000 for two years. Mao is working to develop a biosensor that will detect objects like DNA, nerve agents and pesticides. Mao said this is a fundamental project that will be achieved by transferring chemical functionalities and bio molecules to carbon nanotubes.

Janet Cole, professor of horticulture and landscape architecture, received $66,941 for two years. Cole will investigate the potential of using cottonseed and canola meal, waste products from the production of cooking oils, as organic fertilizers for landscape planting. While the meal is currently used in the production of animal feed, Cole said excess meal could potentially end up in landfills. In addition to reducing this waste, the project could reduce the costs associated with fertilizer production by reducing the amount of petroleum used in fertilizers.


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Source: Kelly Green
Oklahoma State University

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