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David Tilotta


Biltmore Hall (Robertson Wing) 1022M


Dr. David C. Tilotta, Professor, holds a Ph.D. from Kansas State University. Dr. Tilotta provides educational and extension programming in housing and analytical chemistry.

Dr. David C. Tilotta’s research interests include the chemical contamination and decontamination of wood and the development of analytical methodology for the detection of organic and inorganic components in wood. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, the Forest Products Society, and Sigma Xi.

Area(s) of Expertise

Housing and analytical chemistry, chemical contamination and decontamination of wood and the development of analytical methodology for the detection of organic and inorganic components in wood


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Date: 01/01/19 - 12/31/20
Amount: $75,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA AMS)

Fraser fir Christmas trees are one of North Carolina’s most important specialty crops. The Camcore and Christmas Tree Genetics programs in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University will evaluate and select Fraser fir clones with increased tolerance to the balsam woolly adelgid to mitigate the impact of this pest and reduce overall pesticide usage for North Carolina’s Christmas tree industry. The results will inform decisions on seed usage from existing Fraser fir seed orchards and breeding designs for developing additional sources of adelgid tolerance. Outcomes will be reported to stakeholders through presentations at the North Carolina Christmas Tree Growers Association (NCCTGA) and an article in Limbs and Needles, the official trade magazine of the NCCTGA.

Date: 08/01/11 - 7/31/14
Amount: $100,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Transportation (DOT)

In this project, we propose to use thermal treatment of lignocellulosic biomass prior to the fast pyrolysis. The thermal treatment, named torrefaction, is operated at the temperature range of 200~350°C in absence of oxygen and essentially removes hemicelluloses and changes the structure of cellulose and lignin in the biomass. It is hypothesized that the bio-oil produced from torrefied biomass can increase bio-oil?s stability and minimizes coke formation during the upgrading processes. For example, oxygenated compounds in bio-oil are derived mainly from hemicellulose and cellulose in biomass. In addition, this thermal treatment will save the grinding energy since fast pyrolysis requires small particle size for effective heat and mass transfer. Therefore, the main goal of this project is to study the impact of thermal treatment on bio-oil quality such as product stability and the feasibility of upgrading process. To achieve the overall goal of this project, the specific objectives are: (1) to produce thermally treated biomass using torrefaction system; (2) to produce bio-oil from torrefied biomass with and without the integration of gas stream (CO and CO2) from torrefaction into fast pyrolysis system; (3) to investigate the effect on the bio-oil stability and characterize major physical properties; (4) to analyze the effect metal catalysts and other operating parameters on olefins, noncondensable gases and coke formation from bio-oil; and (5) investigate the effect of zeolite catalysts on aromatics yield and coke formation from torrefied biomass. The research includes project leaders from Auburn University (AU) and North Carolina State University (NCSU). Sushil Adhikari at AU provides expertise in biomass pyrolysis and upgrading. Sunkyu Park at NCSU provides expertise in biomass chemistry, torrefaction and fast pyrolysis. The project will use pine wood as a feedstock and the proposed work will be conducted in two institutions. Bio-oil will be produced from fluidized-bed (NCSU) and auger (AU) reactors and upgrading work will be conducted in a high pressure batch reactor.

Date: 01/01/10 - 3/31/14
Amount: $60,000.00
Funding Agencies: Center for Bioenergy Research and Development (CBERD) - NCSU Research Site

Bio-oil produced from pyrolysis can be used as a feedstock into petroleum refinery units, which also allows for the use of the current distribution system for the commercial transportation products. However, two important challenges remain on the use of pyrolysis bio-oil for production of liquid transportation fuels: its high oxygen content and its high acid number. Thus, bio-oils currently require pre-processing to reduce oxygen content and acid number before they can be used in typical refinery units. Many studies have been conducted to solve these problems to make the bio-oil more compatible with the existing transportation fuels infrastructure. For example, a hydrodeoxygenation process can reduce the oxygen content of bio-oil. However, this process is energy and capital intensive and also requires large quantities of hydrogen during the process. Research Objective: We propose a novel treatment method, using an integrated torrefaction-pyrolysis process, which will result in the development of high value bio-oil. This torrefaction process will reduce the oxygen content and the acidity of the bio-oils. Figure 1 shows the overall concept of this project. Expected Outcomes and Project Sustainability: The expected results will include (1) an increased understanding of bio-oil properties and the changes in properties that can be achieved by adjusting the torrefaction-pyrolysis operations and (2) the optimization of process parameters to produce high value bio-oils. The proposed work addresses issues related to forest sustainability. High volumes of forest residues (368 million dry tons per year, DOE-USDA billion-ton study 2005) such as those available from forest thinnings, logging/sawmill residues, and housing deconstruction/demolition residues, are available. These sources of biomass will promote the diversification of fuel sources. In particular, the proposed system is expected to reduce environmental impacts and enhance the overall benefits of biomass pyrolysis.

Date: 08/08/11 - 9/30/12
Amount: $103,122.00
Funding Agencies: Oak Ridge National Laboratories - UT-Battelle LLC

NC State Support for the Resilient Home Project North Carolina State University will perform R&D tasks associated with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Resilient Home Program being managed by Clemson University. Specifically, NC State will assist with the development of a rating program for the higher performance of residential structures during hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. Following the development of the performance model, the program will be field tested on select homes in North Carolina.

Date: 02/02/10 - 3/31/12
Amount: $224,983.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Energy (DOE)

North Carolina State University will perform R&D tasks associated with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Resilient Home Program being managed by the Savannah River National Laboratory. Specifically, NC State will develop the guidance upon which the development of a cost effective national or regional certification program can be based. This guidance will be for the higher performance of buildings during natural disasters. The Seller will also develop educational materials and test appropriate distribution methods for recognized gaps in stakeholder knowledge and develop a plan for proof of concept for a self monitoring/self healing home.

Date: 01/15/08 - 2/28/10
Amount: $391,899.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Energy (DOE)

The ideal disaster-resilient home is one that can survive a disaster without either the loss of property or the lives contained within it. Such a home, however, obviously does not yet exist, but on-going research in materials science, construction technology, etc. is currently making strides towards fabricating one. For example, in-home safe-rooms built from polymer reinforced wood panels can provide safety from high winds during hurricane events. However, many home owners and home builders are unaware of this technology and, thus, safe-rooms are often neither constructed in homes nor requested by home owners. Although much is known about how to prevent, respond, and recover from natural disasters, there are clearly gaps in both the technology and the transfer of the technology to the end users in need of it. This project will involve a comprehensive needs assessment (gap analysis) for the Resilient Home project. Specifically, we will examine the research and technology transfer aspects that will allow us to minimize, eliminate, and/or successfully mitigate the effects of natural disasters on housing. Both research and technology transfer are important in order to develop and/or locate relevant technology as well as transfer that technology to the home owners, officials, and others who are in need of it. The overall objectives of this study are to: 1. Determine the current "state-of-the-art" in the four program elements of Prevention, Assessment, Response, and Rebuilding, 2. Determine the immediate and long term needs for imbuing disaster resilience in housing, 3. Compare the current state of the art with immediate and future needs in order to articulate the gaps in our current knowledge and understanding, and 4. Make recommendations for prioritized, targeted research and technology transfer activities for disaster resilient housing that will close the identified gaps.

Date: 07/11/06 - 6/30/08
Amount: $60,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service

The presence of high humidity levels and moisture in wood building structural (wall, roof and floor) cavities is a major source of wood construction element degradation. Moisture ingress at the corners of window and door trim, roof flashing and at other exterior covering penetrations as well as plumbing failures are major contributors to wood degradation. While correct vapor barrier placement and construction techniques are important to the prevention of moisture infiltration, the addition of an active method to identify sources of inevitable barrier/plumbing failure are also necessary, especially as buildings age. This project?s objectives are to provide an integrated system with which to sense, monitor and control the humidity/moisture inside building cavities so that 1) the homeowner can take appropriate action before wood structural elements are damaged. 2) venting and circulation will be automatically activated by the sensing and control system when necessary and 3) data can be collected for the advancement of other control and detection methods. Part of the work proposed here is to utilize smart, wireless, and low cost sensors that will be able to identify and configure themselves to the host computer in a ?plug and play? fashion using the IEEE 1451 standard for a multi-sensor platform thereby simplifying their use. In addition, work will be conducted on providing power to the sensors through inductive charging to the home?s AC power further simplifying their use.

Date: 08/01/05 - 6/30/08
Amount: $37,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Forest Service

North Carolina State University (NC State) has developed a program of excellence for housing research, education, and extension named the Center for the American Home at NC State. This program fosters a multidisciplinary approach in studying and communicating advanced housing concepts, technologies, and practices. The research demonstration house for the American Home facility, which will be used for the projects in this study, is currently under design and construction is expected to begin soon. For FY 2005, the housing research program at NC State will focus on three areas. One of these projects is a continuation of a previously funded project (i.e., identified as Phase 2 here) and the other three are new. These areas were chosen for their critical importance in wood housing. The proposed research will be initiated in the Department of Wood and Paper Science on the NC State campus and then transferred and/or utilized in the American Home facility. For example, the X-ray imaging techniques described and developed in Project 3 will be applied to the research demonstration house. The three projects are 1. Preliminary evaluation of Mechanical and Physical Properties of Modified Wood - Principle Investigators: Joe Denig, Phil Mitchell, and David Tilotta 2. Evaluating the Potential for Automation in the Modular Home Industry, Phase 2 - Principle Investigator: Phil Mitchell 3. The Use of Advanced Imaging Techniques to Detect Moisture and Leaks Inside Wooden Walls, Phase 1 - Principle Investigator: Richard Lemaster

Date: 07/14/06 - 6/30/07
Amount: $15,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service

This project will involve the analysis and publication of the survey data obtained from the National Needs in Housing Research study. Specifically, this cooperative agreement will be a continuation of a project begun in 2004 by the Advanced Housing Research Center (AHRC) at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory (FPL, Madison, WI), the Coalition for Advanced Housing and Forest Products Research (CAHFPR), and the National Association of Home Builders Research Center (NAHB RC). Specifically, the NAHB RC was tasked by the FPL to conduct a survey of critical stakeholders (e.g., builders, academicians, government workers, etc) on the perceived, critical areas for research in housing. The data was collected during 2004 and organized in 2005, but has not been collated, summarized, ranked, and reported. This project will accomplish these tasks and will result in a finished report concerning the survey data.

Date: 09/12/03 - 9/15/05
Amount: $50,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Forest Service

The objective of this agreement is to provide further technical and administrative assistance to the USDA Forest Products Laboratory Advanced Housing Research Center in coordinating with the Coalition for Advanced Housing and Forest Products Research in the areas of research formulation, prioritization, and execution involving Coalition members, other government and private research partners, and the Advanced Housing Research center External Coordinating Committee.

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