LSU AgCenter receives LIFT2 grants to refine research projects

Richard Bogren  |  6/28/2017 3:47:52 PM

(06/28/17) BATON ROUGE, La. — Two LSU AgCenter research initiatives have been awarded $62,500 in grant funding that will help them promote their inventions to industry partners.

The grants are from the LSU LIFT2 Fund, which began in 2014 to stimulate technology transfer between LSU and the marketplace.

The LSU LIFT² proof-of-concept program awards grants on a competitive basis to further develop an invention that has not been licensed or optioned to a commercial partner. The grants are awarded for applied research that is designed to validate the concept envisioned by an invention disclosure.

Jim Wang, a soil chemist in the AgCenter School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, has developed a low-cost, efficient magnetic magnesium oxide-impregnated biochar composite for capturing and removing phosphate from surface water and wastewater.

The product has applications in removing phosphates from municipal wastewater, from surface water in agricultural fields and from animal-waste lagoons, Wang said.

Phosphates can be recovered because the magnesium oxide attracts the phosphate and the magnetic feature allows the biochar to be captured so the phosphate can be recovered. “The phosphate-loaded biochar can then be used as fertilizer,” Wang said.

Wang said the $27,500 grant will help him develop an elastomeric foam product that could be impregnated with the biochar and used to filter agricultural runoff to remove phosphates. The biochar also could be used as a “bedding” material in a wastewater treatment facility to capture phosphates.

Wang hopes to evaluate stability of the magnetic feature to determine how long will it be effective in a batch treatment of wastewater.

In addition, he wants to see if the product also will remove nitrates and dissolved organic carbon as well.

At the AgCenter Aquaculture Research Station, researchers Greg Lutz and Wei Xu are using a 12-month, $35,000 grant to refine commercial probiotics for fish aquaculture.

“We want to optimize the fish diet,” Lutz said. “We already have recipes and ingredients, now the next step is to improve feed utilization.”

The researchers hope to enhance the bacteria in the fish gut with natural probiotic compounds to improve the balance of bacteria.

“Probiotics can encourage fast growth and enhance immune responses,” Xu said.

The researchers are concentrating on naturally occurring, plant-based oligosaccharides to find the compound or combination of compounds that will improve fish production at low cost.

The researchers are working with tilapia as a model fish, but the results could be applied to farming any finfish. “It could be very promising,” Xu said.

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LSU AgCenter aquaculture specialist Greg Lutz points to a tilapia swimming in a tank at the AgCenter Aquaculture Research Station in Baton Rouge as researcher Wei Xu watches. Photo by Rick Bogren/LSU AgCenter

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LSU AgCenter soil scientist Jim Wang in his lab where he works with a low-cost, efficient magnetic magnesium oxide-impregnated biochar composite for capturing and removing phosphate from surface water and wastewater. Photo by Rick Bogren/LSU AgCenter

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