In an effort to advance research ideas that benefit society and the economy, Auburn University recently awarded two faculty research projects $100,000 in LAUNCH funding support, and one of those projects has potential applicability to the animal feed industry.
This year’s recipients, both from the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, will receive cash stipends from a pool of approximately $100,000 toward the commercialization of their work. The recipients are Zhihua Jiang, an assistant professor in the department of chemical engineering and director of the Alabama Center for Paper & Bioresource Engineering, and Majid Beidaghi, an assistant professor in the department of mechanical engineering.
Jiang’s winning project was titled “Novel & Sustainable Feed Binder from Soy Hulls.” Feed binders are widely used to hold or bind different feed components together for increasing the water stability of aquaculture diets and the durability of feedstuffs, Auburn said.
Jiang and his team — Burak Aksoy of chemical engineering and Mediha Aksoy and Benjamin Beck with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service — are developing a compound feed binder made of soybean hulls, an agricultural waste product. This novel feed binder product is made from 100% soy hulls and has "a great potential to penetrate the existing and growing global animal feed market valued at more than $400 billion in the U.S.," the university said in its announcement.
“We are deeply honored to receive this award,” Jiang said. “Our technology addresses the existing and growing global animal feed market. We expect that this LAUNCH funding will play a critical role in making the technology ready for commercialization.”
The other project, led by Beidaghi, focuses on the development and formulation of inks, or filament, for the fabrication of batteries through a simple, extrusion-based, 3D printing process.
Established in 2015 by the Auburn University Research & Economic Development Advisory Board, the LAUNCH Fund for Research & Innovation involves an associated competition designed to bridge the gap between innovative research and the marketplace. The fund was created with the support of the university's Office of the Vice President for Research & Economic Development.