Research Awards and Grants (January 2020)

Title: Southeast Center for Agriculture Health and Injury Prevention – PILOTS 

PI: Richmond-Bryant, Jennifer

Direct Sponsor: University of Kentucky Research Foundation

Amount Awarded: $12,000                                                                                                                

Abstract: The poultry industry has an economic impact of over $37 billion for the state of North Carolina, creating 146,125 jobs in the state as of 2017. However, ammonia exposure from chicken waste creates a respiratory hazard to those poultry farm workers. Recent efforts by NC State Extension and farm operations partners for sustainable improvements to poultry production have involved adoption of wood pellets to fuel furnaces in hen houses. This dry heat has been shown to improve broiler chicken survival, growth, and quality. Contemporaneously, farm operators and workers have shared anecdotes of reduced odors in hen houses using dry wood pellet heat. We hypothesize that lower humidity in wood pellet-heated hen houses results in less production of ammonium aerosols and hence in lower exposures for poultry farm workers. Initial screening by Carolina Land & Lakes Resource Conservation and Development supports this hypothesis, but more work is needed to demonstrate that the dry heat produced by wood pellet combustion, compared with more humid air found during propane combustion, leads to lower ammonium exposures. We propose to compare ammonia concentrations in sets of hen houses from different poultry farms in Western North Carolina that use wood pellet or propane heat but are otherwise identical. A combination of continuous and integrated ammonia detectors will be used for this pilot study. Anticipated follow-up work includes sampling a greater suite of air pollutants, capturing greater spatial and temporal resolution within the hen houses, and including both personal and area samplers of particulate matter, ammonia, and carbon dioxide in the hen houses.


Title: Ecosystem Model Comparison at Multiple Scales and Sites

PI: Scheller, Robert

Direct Sponsor: Portland State University

Amount Awarded: $44,472                

Abstract: 1. Objective: Ensuring the long-term sustainability of eastern US forests in the face of climate variability and change will require forest managers to have the best available climate change research at their fingertips to make sound management decisions. Ecosystem process models now allow realistic projections of future forest conditions in response to anticipated climate, natural disturbance, forest management, and their interactions that can inform forest management decisions. However, there is no single scale which is perfectly suited to addressing all climate change and management related questions. Critical patterns which emerge at fine-scales may be over-averaged at larger scales and vice-versa. Our objectives are to, a) compare model outcomes from two modeling frameworks against empirical data and to each other, b) examine climate change, disturbance, and management interactions at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, translate these procedures, and prepare a roadmap for deployment across other forested military installations. 2. Technology Description: We propose a two-stage approach for integrating climate, disturbance, and management projections at multiple scales. First, we will calibrate and compare each of two models, an individual-tree scale model (SORTIE-PPA) and a landscape-scale model (LANDIS-II with Century), against empirical data collected from two pine-dominated sites in the eastern US. Second, we will apply both models against the Ft. Bragg ecosystem in central North Carolina under multiple projections of climate change. We will assess the strengths and weakness of each model and their respective capacity to accurately project a suite of ecosystem processes, including succession, disturbance and nutrient cycling, given current and potential management practices and anticipated climate change. We will work closely with Ft. Bragg to prepare both models for operational use via an iterative process that identifies goals and scenarios, data needs, and desired outputs. Both models will be delivered to Ft. Bragg fully parameterized and prepared for subsequent use, including full documentation and access to the open-source code for each model. 3. Expected Benefits: Successful demonstration and validation of the proposed ecosystem process models will help decision-makers integrate a multitude of management strategies into the context of the military mission and installation-specific natural resources management plans. Forest managers will be able to use either SORTIE-PPA or LANDIS-II to estimate the effects of different management practices on the local installations over varying time horizons and spatial scale resolutions. Upon completion, this technology can be applied immediately at Fort Bragg’s more than 89,000 acres of longleaf pine forests and at other DoD installations with forested habitats.


Title: Development of an Optimal Strategic Forest Plan for WRC Lands

PI: Roise, Joseph

Direct Sponsor: NC Wildlife Resources Commission

Amount Awarded: $382,056                                                                                                               

Abstract: As planned this will be a 4 year project costing $428,000. There will be 3 NCSU faculty involved. Two graduate students and one undergraduate studying forest management planning. Both will become highly familiar with the land management model. The final result is a sustainable strategic forest plan that can be used by WRC to get better results. The NC WRC controls 541,000 acres of forest and habitat in North Carolina. The primary focus of management on these lands is wildlife habitat management, conservation and restoration. However, it is recognized that forest management and wildlife habitat management goes hand-in-hand. The final deliverable of this project will be a large scale mathematical program for optimization of the WRC land base.


Title: I/UCRC Phaser III North Carolina State University Center for Advanced Forestry Systems (CAFS) 

PI: Cook, Rachel  

Direct Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Amount Awarded: $91,477                                                                                                                

Abstract: The Center for Advanced Forestry System (CAFS) was established as an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center on September 1, 2007. CAFS brings together industry and agency scientists and practitioners and university scientists from across the country to take interdisciplinary approaches to solving problems facing our nations planted and natural forests and provide for a future with sustainable, healthy forests that provide an economic foundation to many communities and industries, as well as numerous other environmental services.


Title: Aquatic Biodegradability of Textile Materials: Impact of Dyes and Finishes 

PI: Venditti, Richard 

Direct Sponsor: Cotton, Inc.

Amount Awarded: $69,488               

Abstract: This proposal is based on continuing research in our laboratory to understand the fate of microfibers released during laundering. Previous research showed that fabrics of polyester, cotton, polyester/cotton blend, and rayon all released microfibers during laundering to a significant extent and that an important portion of the microfibers released has size < 200 μm. Under the action of aerobic microorganisms present in seawater, lake water, and activated sludge from a local wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), cellulose-based spun yarns were disintegrated and highly assimilated in the aquatic medium; on the other hand, polyester did not show significant biodegradation in any of the aqueous environments. In the third year of this project, we showed that the finishes applied to cotton fabrics in the textile processing affect the aquatic biodegradation of the cotton microfibers. In general, the biodegradation rate is in order of: MCC >Softener > No Finish > Water Repellent >Dyed (Blue 19) > Durable Press. In the proposed research we will (1) complete biodegradation studies of cotton with different finishes in aerobic and anaerobic freshwater conditions, (2) perform laboratory clarification experiments and biodegradation experiments under realistic WWTP conditions in order to develop a model to predict the separation/degradation of cotton microfibers during WWTP processes, (3) to do degradation experiments that will demonstrate the biodegradation of cotton microfibers during sequential WWTP followed by freshwater degradation stages, and (4) to do degradation experiments that will demonstrate the biodegradation of cotton microfibers in freshwater or seawater with the replenishment of either the freshwater or seawater several times.


Title: Participatory Action Research for Implementation of the Biological Planning Foundations of Strategic Habitat Conservation for the National Wildlife Refuge System 

PI: Cubbage, Frederick

Direct Sponsor: US Geological Survey (USGS)

Amount Awarded: $46,625                 

Abstract: We propose to use Participatory Action Research approaches to cooperate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge Southeast Region Inventory and Monitoring program in order to establish and assess the biological planning foundations for Strategic Habitat Conservation for the Refuge units of the Southeast Region, with an emphasis on developmental approaches and outcomes for Resources of Concern and Management Objectives, as established by NWRS Policy 620 FW1, under the authority of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act.


Title: Increasing Kraft Linerboard with High Kappa Pulping and Lignin Modification 

PI: Jameel, Hasan

Direct Sponsor: Alliance for Pulp and Paper Technology Innovation

Amount Awarded: $30,000                 

Abstract: The demand for corrugated packaging materials has declined by only 8% from the peak, but production has actually increased slightly due to increased export markets. It is expected that in the future there will be increased demand for linerboard. Any concept that can increase the end use properties or the overall yield will have a significant impact on linerboard production cost and use. It is being proposed that the yield can be increased from 55 to 60% by raising the kappa # from 100 to ~ 140. However, this increase causes poor bonding and low board strength due to the lack of available bonding sites. Thus, it is being proposed in this project to substantially modify the surface lignin so that the fiber bonding can be improved without a concomitant significant loss in yield. The yield increase would be very significant, but these modifications do not require a new process to replace the existing kraft pulping process. In this proposal, we are suggesting the use of selective lignin reactions that can be easily retrofitted into a kraft pulping process to achieve high bonding while maintaining high yields. The methods that are being recommended include: • Atmospheric and pressurized oxygen delignification • Oxygen delignification reinforced with transition metals • Hydrogen peroxide with Fenton’s chemistry • Ozone • Soybean peroxidase Finally, we intend to provide a detailed techno-economic analysis of the different options that include both cash flow and capital cost analysis for possible mill implementation.