First Awardee Projects - 2012

Esra Buyuktahtakin

Navigating the Fine Line between Biofuels & Invasive Species

Esra Buyuktahtakin, Assistant Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Wichita State University - Biofuel crops are critical in meeting the world's energy demand as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions as a reaction to the dangerous climate change. However, certain biofuel crops are invasive species or are prone to escape cultivation and become invasive leading to significant ecological and economic damages combined with substantial control costs. The objective of Buyuktahtakin's research is to find economically efficient strategies and policies using dynamic programming and discrete optimization approaches to effectively control and manage invasive biofuel crops and hence provide a more sustainable environment.

Timothy Durrett

Mapping the substrate specificity of EaDAcT, a novel acetyltransferase that synthesizes reduced-­‐viscosity oils

Timothy Durrett, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, Kansas State University - Durrett’s research investigates the substrate specificity and structure-­‐function relationship of EaDAcT, a diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT) with unusual substrate specificity. EaDAcT acetylates diacylglycerols to form acTAGs, unusual triacylglycerols with acetate esterified at the glycerol sn-­‐3 position. The structure of acTAGs reduces their kinematic viscosity compared to regular triacylglycerols. From a renewable energy perspective, this lower viscosity means acTAGs could be directly combusted in unmodified diesel engines. A better understanding of the unusual substrate specificity of EaDAcT will aid in further reducing the viscosity of acTAGs and developing bioenergy crops that produce high levels of these useful molecules in their seed oil.

Xin Fu

Maximizing the Utilization of Renewable Energy to Optimize the Soft-Error Robustness of GPGPU-based Data Centers

Xin Fu, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Kansas - To combat the global energy crisis and reduce the negative environmental implications (e.g. global warming), Information Technology community has entered into the green computing era. Recently, the renewable energy (e.g. solar energy) has been introduced into the cloud-scale data centers. Due to the unpredictable nature of the weather pattern, data centers with solar energy usually work in the unstable energy environment. In this project, Fu’s research proposes several heuristics for workload dispatching among the distributed data centers in different geographical locations to maximize the use of the renewable energy and therefore, optimize the workload performance.

Anil Mahapatro

Electrochemical deposition of Aluminum and Niobium on Magnesium Alloy using Novel Vitamin B4-based ionic liquids

Anil Mahapatro, Assistant Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Wichita State University - The demand for production of energy efficient automobiles has triggered an interest in the potential use of lightweight magnesium alloys as structural materials in motor vehicles. Surface treatment of magnesium alloy is necessary for corrosion protection. Current state of the knowledge on surface modification of magnesium alloy has been focused on environmental toxic chromium based coating using concentrated acid based processes. The objective of Mahapatro’s research proposal is to develop “green” electrochemical deposition techniques for deposition of aluminum and niobium on magnesium alloy using novel vitamin B4-based ionic liquids thus minimizing environmental and climate impact.

Behrooz Mirafzal

Integrated Micro-Boost Inverter for Photovoltaic Energy Conversion Applications

Behrooz Mirafzal, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Kansas State University - Mirafzal’s research pertains to fundamental research on PV-integrated micro-boost-inverters. Although boost-inverter and micro-inverter designs exist separately, such a PVintegrated micro-boost-inverter has never been considered. The proposed circuit would be attached to individual solar panels, to boost and convert dc voltage into ac in one stage. In the proposed boost-inverter, dc-link inductors will replace the input electrolytic capacitors – the latter being the predominant source of failures in grid-connected inverters. As a part of Mirafzal’s research, Finite Element computations will be applied to the internal electrical interconnections of photovoltaic cells to obtain the required inductance for the proposed PV-integrated micro-boost-inverters.

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