Page 1

OSU Page 8

Page 5

BAE/Bioen Update Volume 34


Oklahoma State University Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

The Charles Machine Works employs BIOEN graduates Thirteen employees at The Charles Machine Works are OSU BIOEN alumni. They are (front row from left) Brent Bolay, Pat Millican, David Zavodny, Dave Campbell, Gary Tripp, Kelvin Self, Mark Kiner, (back row from left) Brad Schaufele, Randy Richardson, Gerald Stangl, Joe Greenlee, Rex Nelson, and Stan Mullins

Many companies around the state strive to hire Oklahoma State University Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering graduates. Because of the quality of OSU’s BIOEN students, The Charles Machine Works, Inc. welcomes the opportunity to interview these graduates for employment, said Public Relations Coordinator Audrey Branson. “With more than 1,400 employees working at The Charles Machine Works, Inc., 13 of them graduated with a Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering degree from OSU,” Branson said. The Charles Machine Works, Inc., located in Perry, Okla. is the world’s leading manufacturer of underground construction equipment carrying the brand name Ditch Witch and Subsite Electronics. The company not only designs, manufactures and markets the industry’s continued on page 7

Inside: • Letter from Dept. Head


• Senior Design Team


• Student Tractor Pull


• CASNR Associate Dean


• International Travel • Student Class Projects Ed Malzahn invented and introduced the world’s first service-line trencher nearly 50 years ago. Today, the Ditch Witch manufacturer provides a full range of trenchers and vibratory plows, which are distributed worldwide.

7-8 9

• Bioreactor Process


• Alumni Update


A Word from the Department Head

Where are they now?

Dr. Billy J. Barfield

Tracking BIOEN Alumni Where are the 1998 graduates?

As the spring semester has sprung among us, many new and exciting things are happening in your Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department. Graduation is near, and we have many bright students graduating from our department. One of our students, Shelia Youngblood has been named Top Ten Senior Woman of OSU. We are proud of all of our graduates . This has been an especially active group of students. Upon graduation, students have the opportunity to find jobs around the world. More companies are hiring OSU Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering graduates. This semester’s spotlight company is The Charles Machine Works, Inc. which manufactures Ditch Witch and Subsite Electronics products. The departmental banquet will be held April 10, showcasing many Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering students. Numerous scholarships will be presented. We hope that many of you will join us and make this a homecoming event. Our programs continue to expand and new faculty are needed. Currently we are recruiting a new bioconversion engineering faculty to focus on waste

management and a biomechanical engineering faculty to add to our precision agriculture and sensors group. In addition, we are recruiting a lecturer to work with students and to coordinate our undergraduate recruiting program. The research and extension programs of the department continue to be very active. In addition to the traditional programs, we have developed a program to convert biomass to ethanol, focused a major effort on sensor-based precision agriculture, and began a major value added food products research program. In the extension area, a program of technology assistance to small manufacturers was begun six years ago and has grown to six full time faculty and staff who are making major economic impacts on rural Oklahoma. We are committed to serving Oklahoma and producing outstanding graduates, and impacting the science of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. Come by and see what is happening in your department. Best wishes, Bill Barfield, Professor and Head

Help us help you! BIOEN alumni and friends, we need your help in two ways: (1) To recruit potential students and (2) to donate to the BIOEN scholarship/activity fund It takes dollars to recruit good students, and good students make your degree more valuable. Our commitment to you is if they come here, we will take care of them to the best of our ability.

If you know of any potential students who would be interested in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, please send their names and addresses to us so we can contact them.

OSU BIOEN, 111 Ag Hall, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078

Patrick Millican Ditch Witch Perry, Okla. Will Hahn IV Graduate School Biosystems and Ag Engineering Oklahoma State University Stillwater, Okla. William Brandon Claborn Natural Resource Conservation Service Claremore, Okla.

Special thanks to the “Engineers of BIOEN Dreams” Billy J. and Annette Barfield David G. Batchelder Bobby L. Bledsoe Gerald H. Brusewitz Junior R. Bryant Pearl E. Crain Bob G. Day Ronald L. and Judith Elliot Richard and Nancy Giles C.T. and Jan Haan Doug W. Hamilton Randy J. Haynes Ricky J. and Amber K. Heflin Scott A. and Jeannine Henderson Dwight and Marge Johnston Kem and Teresa Kadavy Jim C. Loftis Donald K. and Donna McCool David R. and Irene McKay Peter R. and Cara McKay Ronnie and Sharon Morgan Ronald T. and Zona Noyes Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority Phillips Petroleum Company J. Shea Pilgreen Larry and Jo Roth Ervin W. Schroeder Marvin and Bonnie Stone John M. Sweeten Warren E. Taylor Richard and Barbara Tessmann James and Donna Whitmore Glenna S. Williams Jiansheng Yan Dean and Sharon Yoder Jinhui Zhang



Senior design team travels to Mexico City A professor and two students of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering traveled to Mexico City, Mexico trying to establish international contacts and learn more about Mexican agriculture. Joe Vadder and Sherry Britton, Biosystems Engineering undergraduates, are two of the members of the biosystems engineering senior design team who made the educational trip. They were accompanied by Dr. Richard Whitney, one of the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering professors instructing the class. The three individuals traveled to Mexico City to research Mexican farming techniques and bring back information to help the team in the design class. The team is developing a grain planter to be used behind a two-wheel Chinese tractor, Vadder said. “The purpose of the device is to plant wheat on raised beds which can be irrigated and managed so that it can get higher yields than on flat surfaces,” Whitney said. The team hopes that this concept will be implemented in different countries, Britton said. While Whitney, Vadder and Britton were in Mexico, they stayed at the

International Center of the Improvements of Wheat and Maize, CIMMYT, headquarters. CIMMYT is an internationally funded, nonprofit research and training center focused on providing a range of products and services designed to improve the profitability, productivity and sustainability of maize and wheat systems in poor countries. “CIMMYT is trying to get third world countries to grow more wheat,” Whitney said. Whitney, Vadder and Britton studied Mexico’s agricultural cultures by looking at several different planters and farms. They also visited the University of Chapingo. “I enjoyed seeing the different types of agriculture,” Vadder said. Britton said this was the first time she had traveled internationally, and she did not know what to expect. “It gave me a whole new perspective on Mexico versus the U.S.,” Britton said. “You get a different perspective when you actually talk to the people.” While in Mexico City, Britton was interviewed by a Mexican high school student. The student’s English assigncontinued on page 6

1998-1999 Officer Team President Joe Vadder Vice President Chris Cross Secretary/Treasurer Sherry Britton Historians Erica Gaddis Bron Howard CEAT Representative Stewart Reed Agricultural Representative Shannon Parker Jr. Agricultural Representative Autumn Hood Parliamentarian Sheila Youngblood Adviser Dr. Doug Hamilton

Mexican farmers use a grain drill to plant wheat on bed spacing in Obregon, Mexico.

Jr. Adviser Maryann Williams



Students to compete in tractor pull Oklahoma State University Biosystems Engineering students will show off their hard work and dedication as they compete in the second annual Quarter-Scale Tractor Pull Competition in Moline, Ill. May 20 to 24. This year OSU will enter a senior team and a junior team in the competition. The senior team will build a tractor from scratch while the junior team will make modifications to last year’s quarter-scale tractor. The senior team consists of Bron Howard, Brett Whaley, Stewart Reed, Joe Vadder, Dustin Simmons, Carly Washmon, Duane Needham and Travis Tsunemori. Jake Holloway, Chad Fisher, Jason Walker and Adam Bohl make up the junior team. Bron Howard, Biosystems Engineering senior, said the team will hopefully do better than they did at last year’s competition. “We are more prepared for what we have to do, and we are getting more feedback from Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering professors. Both teams will compete against 34 other teams from universities across the United States in several different categories. These categories include presentation, design report, tractor pull, overall competition, safety, newest design, unique idea, best looking and best instrumentation. Winners of different categories receive trophies, money, equipment worth $3000 or just bragging rights, Howard said. Howard said both teams have raised money to pay for the building and modifications of the tractors. “We have received money from the Activities Fee Allocation Process and from donations,” Howard said. “Stillwater Equipment has been really good to us.” The students work on the tractors on weekends and in their spare time during the week, Howard said. “We divide the responsibilities just like it is in the real world,” Howard said.

The teams will participate in Tulsa’s Starbirds Car Show as a trial run before the major competition in May. The Tractor Pull is part of the National ASAE Design Competition for students to gain practical experience in the design of drive train systems, tractor performance, engine design, manufacturing, manufacturing processes, analysis of tractive forces and weight transfer. Working on the tractors is a learning process for the students, Howard said. “What we do not cover in class, we learn on our own by building the tractors,” Howard said.

News Flash •

Autumn Hood, biosystems and agricultural engineering freshman, received the highest grade point average of any freshman in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology in the fall of 1998. You can visit her home page at http://

Sheila Youngblood, biosystems and agricultural engineering senior, was named as one of the Top Ten Senior Women of Oklahoma State University. She will compete for the honor of one of the Top Ten Seniors of the university.

BIOEN welcomes new faculty & staff Nici Spicer Timothy Propst Bruno Cateni Alicia Gilley Stephanie Young Richard Willoughby Ronald Tejral Daniel Itenfisu Tami Krehbiel

Word Processor Operator Extension Engineer Research Engineer Research Engineer Senior Secretary Research Engineer Research Engineer Post Doctoral Fellow Coordinator

and says farewell to Donna Whitmore Jactone Arogo

Financial Control Assistant Assistant Researcher BAE/BIOEN Update


OSU-developed smart machine decides when to spray plants “The plant tells us what it needsright now-as we go through the field,” said John B. Solie, OSU biosystems and agricultural engineer and project spokesperson for a team of OAES researchers designing, developing, and testing firstof-its-kind, sensor based application equipment. Solie is referring to a commercial tractor sprayer equipped with computers and sensors developed by the researchers. As it goes through a field, sensors “read” the plant material and transmit the data to computers on the machine. These computers, in turn, tell the spray equipment how much to apply. The liquid sprayed can be either herbicide or fertilizer, depending on what is programmed and loaded for the job. To a novice, the prototype sprayer appears strangely uncomplicated. Basically, it’s a commercial self-propelled sprayer with a laptop computer mounted at the driver’s right plus special nozzles and small white boxes housing sensors and tiny computers. The machine is also easy to operate. However, looks do not tell the complete story. The development of this still unnamed smart machine was no easy endeavor. Solie said the computer, sensing devices, and wiring are largely the brainchild of Marvin Stone, OSU biosystems and agricultural engineer. The sensors are based on light radiating from

by Jacqueline Dahlgren plants and other biomass in the visible and the near-infrared spectrum. The sensors generate numbers based on light intensity; those numbers are fed to the computers that control spray application through the nozzles. Stone also has a research reputation for developing computer apparatuses “for making one part of a machine talk to another part” that served as head of the U.S. delegation, writing international standards for communications on agricultural equipment. While Solie credits Stone, he said some 30 people, including students, have made important contributions to the new

variable rate sprayer, which has not yet been produced commercially. He describes its development this way: “In 1991, Tom Peeper, OSU agronomist said he’d like to have a sprayer that could see bindweed in fields and only spray in needed areas, rather than the entire field...that we could save a large amount of herbicide.” “Marvin Stone had already designed a sensor, which now has had several generations of improvements, that could detect bindweed in fallow conditions.” “I was also thinking at the time that it would be great if a sensor could detect the nitrogen needs in a wheat plot. We talked to Bill Raun and Gordon Johnson, both OSU agronomists, who know a lot continued on page 8

John Solie demonstrates the smart tractor. It contains sensors that read the plant material and tell the spray equipment how much liquid to apply.

Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering shirts and caps are now on sale!




$7.00 EACH THREE FOR $20.00

Order yours from Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering 111 Agricultural Hall Stillwater, OK 74078 BAE/BIOEN Update


Design Team, from page 3 ment was to ask questions to an English person. Britton was tape recorded while answering these questions. She also got her picture taken by the student. The team is currently in the process of building the grain planter, Vadder said. “We have the design nailed down, but we don’t have any drawings yet,” he said. The team hopes to have the device completed by April. The final product will then be shipped to Mexico, and the whole class will travel to Mexico City in May to demonstrate the solution to representatives of CIMMYT and students and faculty of the University of Chapingo. The individuals were able to sitesee while in Mexico. They visited the pyramids, the Anthropology Museum and the downtown of Mexico City. They also had the opportunity to visit with a Noble Prize winner, Dr. Norman Borloug. All three are excited to travel back to Mexico City in May.

Miller named associate dean Dr. Edwin L. Miller management, land use and was named Associate Dean water quality. of the College of AgriculMiller then worked 11 tural Sciences and Natural years as the hydrology Resources after the program leader for the retirement of former Weyerhaeuser Company’s associate dean, Dr. Paul D. Southern Forestry Research Hummer. Department in Hot Springs, Miller received his Ark. before joining OSU’s three degrees from Iowa Department of Forestry in State University graduating 1986. In 1989, he was with his B.S. in forestry named as the department Ed Miller management in 1968, his head. M.S. in agronomy in 1970 and his Miller was elected a Fellow in the Ph.D. in water resources in 1973. Society of American Foresters in 1997, After graduation, he began his and he is a chairman of the hydrology career teaching at the School of working group of the Society. He is Forestry at Stephen F. Austin State also a member of the Soil Science University in Texas. Miller’s research Society of America and the Soil and teaching emphases were placed in Conservation Society of America. the areas of forest hydrology, watershed

BIOEN prof Whitney announces retirement Dr. Richard W. Whitney will retire July 1, 1999 from the Oklahoma State University Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department after working for 31 years. Whitney is going to take advantage of opportunities outside of OSU. “After working for 31 years, you begin to think that maybe you ought to do other things,” Whitney said. Whitney, a native from Osawatomie, Kan., graduated with his B.S. degree in Agricultural Engineering at Kansas State University in 1961. He also received his M.S. and Ph.D. degree in Agricultural Engineering from OSU in 1967 and 1972. His fields of study included farm power and machinery, farm structures, rural electrification and processing of farm products. Whitney began employment as a temporary instructor for Kansas State University in 1961. Whitney moved to OSU in 1962 and became a BIOEN instructor and then worked as a graduate research assistant from 1969 to 1972. In 1972, Whitney became an assistant professor at Louisiana State University, but came back to OSU in 1975. Whitney was promoted to associate professor in 1979 and then to professor in 1984. Throughout the years, Whitney’s major areas of interest in research and teaching have been based on application technology, mechanization equipment development, agricultural machinery and design and agricultural power and power units. After retiring, Whitney plans to work on his consulting

Richard Whitney will retire in July and plans to devote more of his time to his special interests, one of which is the aerial application industry.

company and write a couple of books. “I want to write on the aerial application industry and either on mailbox design or ranch entry ways,” Whitney said. Whitney is a member of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers as well as the Society of Automotive Engineers. He has also received some awards and honors such as the NDEA Fellowship, Seven Wonders of Engineering in Oklahoma Award, Outstanding Engineering Achievement Award and USDA Unit Superior Service Award.



Charles, from page 1 most complete line of traditional trenching products, but it also is continuing to set the standard for horizontal directional boring products and other trenchless technology techniques. “Ditch Witch and Subsite Electronics products are used all over the world to install power and communications cable, water and natural gas lines, sprinkler and irrigation systems and other types of buried service lines,” Branson said. The Charles Machine Works, Inc. controls the research, design and manufacturing of every piece of equipment in the Ditch Witch and Subsite Electronics product line. The plant includes the main offices, a manufacturing area, a product development center, the Ditch Witch Training Center, the Subsite Electronics design and manufacturing facility and a directional boring drill pipe manufacturing facility. The Charles Machine Works, Inc. was founded by Ed Malzahn who invented the first compact trenching machine in 1949 which launched an entire industry. “Since that time, the company has built and sold more than half of the world’s service-line trenchers, pioneered the development of vibratory plowing equipment and is recognized as the leader in the directional boring industry,” Branson said. The company is named for the late Charles Malzahn, father of company president, Ed Malzahn. The Charles Machine Works, Inc. takes pride in training their employees. “Training is a major concern and an integral part of the Ditch Witch customer service effort at The Charles Machine Works, Inc.,” Branson said. “By increasing an employee’s level of confidence, the company strongly believes that training improves on-the-job productivity.” The company’s worldwide dealer organization has caused much of the success to the Ditch Witch and Subsite Electronics brands. Independently-owned Ditch Witch dealerships are dedicated to Ditch Witch and Subsite Electronics products and services, Branson said. These dealers stand by the philosophy: “We are the underground authority, worldwide.”

Noyes shares grain storage technology with Chinese Ronald Noyes, Extension Agricultural Engineer, traveled to China to learn more about the storage of grain around the world. Noyes attended the Seventh International Working Conference for Stored Product Protection in Beijing Oct. 14 to Oct. 19. “The purpose of the conference is to provide scientific information of the research of grain storage in all countries that want to participate to improve grain storage,” Noyes said. Noyes presented two oral technical papers and two posters at the conference. He discussed the guidelines for Ronald Noyes sealing steel grain bins for fumigation and the advances in recirculation fumigation technology in the U.S. Approximately 600 people from over 30 countries attended the conference, Noyes said. This was Noyes’s second time to participate in the conference. He traveled to Camberra, Australia to attend the conference in 1994. Noyes also participated in the Controlled Atmosphere and Fumigation Conference in Cyprus in 1996, which he organized a technical session focused on grain and was appointed to the board for the conference in 2000. Noyes is one of two U.S. scientists on the board. During the conference in China, Noyes attended technical sessions and toured the Beijing Grain Bureau, the top grain storage facility. “We saw the old method of storing grain in China,” Noyes said. “The grain was stored in bags and covered with woven mats made out of grass.” The Beijing Grain Bureau has progressed to modern structures, Noyes said, and they are now building a concrete silo complex. Noyes is currently helping with the design of the soon-to-be Stored Product Research and Education Center at Oklahoma State University Noyes attended the Seventh International Working Conference for Stored Product Protection to gain information for the construction of the center. OSU’s Stored Product Research and Education Center will provide programs of excellence in research, education and training related to the management of stored grains, grain products and other bulk commodities, benefiting Oklahoma, the nation and the world.

Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Departmental Banquet April 10, 1999 7:00 p.m. at Taylor’s Dining Room Incoming and Continuing Scholarships Awarded 1999-2000 ASAE Student Branch Officers Recognized For Tickets Call: Marge Johnston (405) 744-5432



Kizer takes irrigation expertise to Turkey

as providing irrigation water.” A written planning report was turned in to the World Bank at the end of February. The World Bank will then decide how they want to invest their money. The World Bank will take bids to see who will complete the A Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering staff member rest of the project. If the written planning report is well received, traveled overseas and helped Turkish farmers October 23 to OSU may be selected to be the contractor to implement the November 21. project. Mike Kizer, associate professor in Biosystems and AgriculThis project was planned in 1980 but did not get underway tural Engineering Extension, worked with Su Yapi, a Turkish because of disputes over water with Iraq and Syria, Kizer said. consulting firm in Ankara to develop an irrigation Kizer stayed in a government guesthouse in plan for part of the Southeast Anatolia Project, wellSanliurfa. “The project has known in Turkey as GAP. Before the start of this project, the population of Kizer was responsible for looking at the existing brought a prom- Sanliurfa was 260,000 people. Sanliurfa has now irrigation system near Sanliurfa, the project headgrown to 400,000 people. ise of jobs and quarters, and telling how the funds from the World “The project has brought a promise of jobs and an increase in Bank could best be utilized. an increase in agriculture to Sanliurfa,” Kizer said. agriculture to The project will develop rural roads and village Kizer said he enjoyed the trip even though he drinking water supplies as well as irrigated agriculworked long hours. Sanliurfa.” ture, Kizer said. “We would begin working after we ate breakfast Kizer examined the area’s water quality and at 7:30 a.m., and we would work until 7:30 p.m.,” quantity, crop water requirement and irrigation management Kizer said. “There was nothing else for us to do after we finished methods. working but watch soccer games on television on Friday and Kizer said the Sanliurfa area receives little precipitation. Saturday nights.” “Farmers of the area do not know much about irrigation Kizer said the people of Sanliurfa were very friendly. management, and nothing is going to grow there during the “We would go out to eat and walk a mile or two back to the summer without irrigation,” Kizer said. hotel at 10 p.m., and I never felt threatened of being robbed,” When completed, this rural development project will carry Kizer said. “People would come up and talk to us because we water from the Euphrates river to irrigate 151,000 hectares of were different.” farmland. At the present time, 82,000 hectares are being Five other Americans from OSU were also in Turkey irrigated, Kizer said. working on the project at the same time as Kizer. They included “The jewel of the GAP project is the Ataturk Dam,” Kizer Larry Sanders, Joseph Paden, Mike Woods, Gordon Johnson and said. “It generates up to 2,400 megawatts of hydropower as well Bill Raun.

Smart Machine, from page 5 about soils and soil fertility.” Dick Whitney, OSU biosystems and agricultural engineer, contributed to developing the variable rate nozzles, and Solie worked on systems and spatial variability. “Then two years ago we not only found we could detect nitrogen needs of plants as we went across fields ... but we could do that very well. In our experiments, we found we could set fertilizer levels to bring yields up to uniform levels across a field.” “We have since used this equipment on Bermuda grass for forage ... Actually it appears to be applicable to a number of crops. It looks like eventually we can probably use it for applying other nutrients, too,” Solie said. “It’s better than putting eyes on the machine.” The Ataturk Dam on the Euphrates River provides the main source of irrigation water for the GAP project. BAE/BIOEN Update


Students learn teamwork skills while participating in class projects Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering students focused on teamwork skills while taking an engineering software class last fall. Ronald Elliott, class professor, said it is the first course that BAE majors take in the department. “We use the course as a retention tool,” he said. The objectives of the course are to apply microcomputer software useful in engineering analysis and reporting, to explore the use of computers and technology in solving problems in Biosystems Engineering and to become acquainted with Biosystems Engineering faculty, facilities programs and careers. “The students become more familiar with the people and the department, and eventually it will feel like a home to them,” Elliott said. The students in the class were required to complete a term project and a poster presentation in groups of three or four, Elliott said. Each group was given the opportunity to choose their topic from a list provided by Biosystems Engineering faculty.

“The teams came together well,” Elliott said. “So much engineering work is done in teams, and it was a learning experience about teamwork.” Some of the topics included changes in electrical conductivity during ohmic heating, weather influences on dead fuel moisture and probabilities for a working day in Oklahoma. A faculty consultant and a student consultant were assigned to assist each group. Class teaching assistant Erica Gaddis was also available to help when needed. The term project enabled each student to apply engineering software tools in the analysis of data and the reporting of results, gain experience in a team approach to problem solving, further develop communications skill, be exposed to “real world” applications of Biosystems Engineering and interact with faculty and students in the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department, Elliott said. Each team presented a poster summary of their project to the department and invited guests at a reception

December 2, 1998. This reception included refreshments and a steady stream of people for about two hours, Elliott said. This was the first year the class was required to do a poster presentation, he said. “Poster presentations are becoming more common at technical meetings,” Elliott said. “It gave the students a more informal opportunity to display their work.” Elliott said each group gave high quality poster presentations and their ability to answer questions were excellent. Each group spent most of their time working on the term projects outside of class. Many groups divided responsibilities while coordinating and working together. The class is only offered in the fall and contains predominately freshman and a few junior college and on-campus transfers. “Looking back on it, most of them had a positive outlook about the class,” Elliott said.

A reception was held for invited guests to talk with students about their poster presentations during an engineering software class. Left: Larry Walker (left), a visitor from Cornell University, and Bill Barfield visit with students about their projects. Above: (from left) Phil Renner, Kris Menz and Jake Holloway stand next to their final product.



Bioreactor process causes positive impact Converting low-cost feedstock into ethanol by means of a gasification/ bioreactor process is a new project at the department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. This project is designed to obtain liquid fuel from low-cost biomass such as wheat straw and switchgrass, which has been a national objective since the energy crisis of the 1970s, said Ray Huhnke, Professor and Extension Agricultural Engineer in the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department. “The plan is a holistic approach to a biomass energy conversion system that identifies alternative feedstocks that can be delivered to a commercial plant which then converts the biomass into ethanol using a gasification/bioreaction process,” Huhnke said. During this process, biomass is gasified at temperatures in excess of 120 degrees Fahrenheit to produce syngas, which is then converted to ethanol with a microbial catalyst. Huhnke said the project includes three main objectives: develop and demonstrate an integrated pilot gasifier/ bioreactor system; determine the characteristics of an optimized system for producing, harvesting, transporting, storing and processing the biomass

feedstock; and develop a design, an economic evaluation and an environmental impact assessment of a full-scale plant to convert biomass to ethanol. The use of low-cost biomass would be beneficial in the conversion to ethanol because of its availability and its potential to make use of waste products, Huhnke said. The Williams Company of Tulsa, industry partner and the nation’s second largest producer of ethanol, indicates that . the gasification/bioconversion process can theoretically produce 140 gallons of ethanol per ton of biomass, Huhnke said. The project team members are confident of getting at least 80 gallons of ethanol per ton on a conservative level and should definitely be able to obtain 100 gallons or more per ton, Huhnke said. Economic development in rural areas could be greatly enhanced by such a biomass energy system as poorly utilized land and agricultural residues are given economic value, Huhnke said. There would also be a positive environmental impact of using renewable energy resources, both on air quality and the global greenhouse problem, he said. “The project is significant because of the potential impact on global climate

change resulting from the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” Huhnke said. “This is viewed as one of the world’s most serious environmental problems.” The principle investigator of the project is Dr. Charles Browning, former Dean of the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources of OSU. Co-principal investigators are Drs. Randy Lewis, A.H. Johannes, Billy Barfield, Ray Huhnke, Danielle Bellmer, Tim Bowser, Charles Taliaferro and Francis Epplin from OSU and Dr. Ralph Tanner from the University of Oklahoma. This team of six engineers, an agronomist, an agricultural economist and a microbiologist will address several essential parts of the biomass energy system. Huhnke said the process becomes more economically attractive as oil prices increase and could help lead the nation to greater energy independence. “Over time, this process will become more competitive, and we will be less dependent of foreign oil,” he said. This on-going project will be completed in four to five years when most the critical questions have been answered, Huhnke said.

BAE/BIOEN Wired! Check us out!

Dwarfed in switchgrass are (from left) Charles Taliaferro, Plant and Soil Sciences; Ray Huhnke, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering; Robert Westerman, Plant and Soil Sciences; Dean Sam E. Curl, Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; Billy Barfield, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering; and Associate Director D.C. Coston, Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station.

Alumni registration and information about the department, faculty, scholarships, graduate programs and student organizations



Alumni Success Stories Mohammed Mazed 1984

Alireza Dariane 1989

Mohammed Abdul Mazed, Agricultural Engineering graduate, and his wife Halima reside in Gazipur, Bangladesh with their three daughters, Maliha,17, Nafisa, 14, and Lamia, 10. After graduating with his Ph.D., Mohammed was appointed as Chief Scientific Officer for Farm Machinery and Post Harvest Engineering at Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute. In 1985, he was promoted to the Director of Support Services and then as Director General in 1995. He is currently working as Director General at Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute. (Mohammed’s information was sent to Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering in the spring of 1998.)

team in mechanical agriculture. Jeff graduated with a BS degree in Mechanical Agriculture in 1983. Jeff resides in Fredonia, Kan. with his wife, Kim, of 12 years and his three daughters of ages 11, seven and three.

Alireza Borhani Dariane graduated with his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. Alireza is currently working as an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at K.N. Toosi University of Technology in Iran. K.N. Toosi University of Technology offers Water Engineering on the B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. level. Water Engineering includes hydrology, hydraulics and water resource planning.

Abbas Karimian 1970 Abbas Karimian graduated in 1970 with a B.S. degree in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. He is currently working as a vegetable and potato researcher for the Agricultural Research Center of Golestan. Abbas, Zahra, his wife, and three sons, Hossein, 19, Babak, 17, and Ali, 14, live in the town Gorgan. While Abbas attended college at OSU, he enjoyed watching wrestling in Gallagher Iba arena.

Jeff Falkenstien 1983 Jeff Falkenstien is currently an agriculture instructor/FFA sponsor at Fredonia High School in Kansas. He coached the 1995 National FFA first place

We Want To Know About You. . . Name Home Address City Home Phone Business Address City Business Title Business Phone E-Mail address

Return this form to BIOEN Update, 111 Ag Hall, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078-6016


Zip Fax


Zip Fax

What year did you get your Biosystems, Agricultural Engineering or MECAG degree(s)? BS 19





Your News Is Good News! Please let us know what is going on with you. We are currently working on “Career Opportunities: Profiles of BIOEN Alumni” to be used in the recruitment of new students to the department. If you want to participate, please send a letter (or e-mail) to us describing your career (where you work and what you do on a daily basis). We would also appreciate any notes about professional honors, career activities, civic achievements, family news, etc. We will use this information in the next issue.



4 April 10

Mark Your Calendar BIOEN Departmental Banquet

May 7

Recognition of New BIOEN Graduates

April 17

OSU Mom’s Day

May 7

Spring Semester Ends

April 21

Secretaries Day

August 16

Fall Semester Begins

BAE/BIOEN Update is published each semester. It informs alumni and prospective students of the activities in the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. We invite you to submit questions, comments, articles, ideas, etc. to: BAE/BIOEN Update Biosystems and Ag Engineering Oklahoma State University 111 Ag Hall Stillwater, OK 74078-6016 (405) 744-5431 Editor Mandy Fritz Agricultural Communications and Animal Science junior

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This includes but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. This publication is printed and issued by Oklahoma State University as authorized by the Dean of the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and has been prepared and distributed at a cost of $1063.77 for 750 copies. #4460 0399 JDM.

Nonprofit Organization U.S. POSTAGE PAID Stillwater, OK Permit No. 191