Designing a Carbon Infiltration-Carbon Nanotube Filtration Device to Separate Oil from Fracking Waste
Brian Jensen; Phillip Ng, Brigham Young University The purpose of this project is to invent a device capable of filtrating oil from fracking waste using a system of Carbon Infiltrated Carbon Nanotubes (CI-CNT) and its passive filtration properties. Fracking produces harmful waste material that pollutes clean water. A large-scale CI-CNT device that can filter large amounts of the microscopic oil particles from the waste will offer drilling companies a viable option to reuse the fracking mixture collected from after the fracking process instead of burying their unusable waste material underground, thereby causing less environmental damage. Pyrolytic CI-CNT’s can isolate water and oil molecules due to their superhydrophobic and oleophilic properties, unique cylindrical nanostructure, and functional groups. The CI-CNT’s will be grown on a stainless steel substrate that will give us the robustness and material properties needed to withstand the forces from fluid flow. We have designed a long channel with unique mechanical features that we anticipate will effectively separate oil from fracking waste as it interacts with it by splashing, rolling, and flowing across its surface.
Austin Schenk, Brigham Young University
Ryan Clark; Taylor Dickinson; Johnfredy Loaiza; Kari Beardsley; Dan Geiger, Brigham Young University
Sutherland Wyatt; Connor Meyerhoeffer, Dixie State University
Jayson Foster, Dixie State University
Chase Omana, University of Utah
Generation of stress/strain curves by VPSC for simulation of sheet stamping in Mg alloy AZ31B at different forming temperatures
Trenton Colton; David Fullwood, Brigham Young University
Austin Bettridge, Utah Valley University
Anastasiia Matkovska; Austin Bettridge; Blake Allred; Jeff Keller, Utah Valley University
Konstantinos Karpos; Koren Roach, University of Utah
Joseph Rich, Brigham Young University
Ariel Green; Taylor Schroedter, Brigham Young University
Joseph Millar, Utah Valley University
Mary Rosbach, Brigham Young University
Thomas Shober; Jaxon Roller; Ashley Kennedy, University of Utah
Effects of coral mining on community dominance of macroalgae vs scleractinian coral on three reefs near islands of varying coral wall volumes in the corregimiento Nargana, Guna Yala Province, PanamÌÁ
Jackson Podis, Westminster College In the Guna Yala archipelago, PanamÌÁ, the removal of coral species for construction of coral walls has been a common practice for the Guna Yala indigenous group. This practice has the potential to drastically alter the community structure of offshore reefs. This study analyzed three reefs offshore of islands with varying coral wall volumes to quantify macroalgae and scleractinian coral cover, diversity of scleractinian coral species, and correlation between macroalgae and scleractinian coral cover. All three study sites exhibited significant differences in scleractinian coral coverage; a significant negative correlation was shown between scleractinian coral cover and macroalgal cover, and the site with the largest coral wall volume showed the lowest rates of coral species commonly used for mining. These results are telling of the potential effects coral mining can have on coral reefs in the Guna Yala archipelago, and aim to inform the development of marine resource management plans in the future.
Gabriel Poulson, Brigham Young University
Hayden Brady; Alex Jafek; Sean Harbertson; Raheel Samuel, University of Utah
Brett Reeder, University of Utah
Sean Harbertson, University of Utah
Rhianna Wolsleger, Dixie State University
Carlton Reininger and John Salmon, Brigham Young University Engineering Electric Vehicles (EV) are a rising alternative to standard combustion vehicles because of their energy cost savings and reduced carbon emissions. However, EVs come with limitations such as limited driving range and potentially long recharge times. The purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility of implementing an electric vehicle system into an urban environment. Using data provided by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, models are developed and generated to simulate driver shifts and analyze system level impacts from EVs on driver behavior. The models evaluate the number of charge events over the course of a shift and calculate the potential revenue lost to missed fares during charge intervals. Across the system, the results indicate that for a majority of NYC taxi drivers, EVs can be implemented without significant changes in driver behavior, while providing an economic and environmental advantage over current combustion vehicles. These preliminary findings can be used to support implementing such a system in urban environments and these models could be used as a template toward analyzing EV taxi potential in other cities.
Hayley Ford, Kristen Wilding and Matt Schinn, Brigham Young University Engineering Therapeutic proteins are specially engineered proteins used to treat many large profile diseases. Such diseases include cancer, diabetes, hepatitis B/C, hemophilia, multiple sclerosis, and anemia. The use of these proteins is specific and highly successful and the demand for these proteins in rapidly increasing. One of the largest problems with the use of therapeutic proteins is the cost of making them. The cost of producing these proteins amounts to hundreds of billions of US dollars every year. There is a growing need to find better, faster, and cheaper ways to create them. As specific therapeutic proteins are coming off patent, research labs are able to explore the processes of making these drugs that have become such a large part of the pharmaceutical industry. Here we report the use of cell-free synthesis as a more cost-effective way to produce these therapeutic proteins. Cell-free protein synthesis is faster and allows for direct manipulation and control of the protein creating environment. Cell-free synthesis can produce proteins in a matter of days as opposed to the weeks it takes to produce them in vivo. The increased manipulation and control of the environment that comes with cell-free synthesis allows improved accuracy in creating the desired proteins and is more adaptable to changes if they need to be made.
Takami Kowalski, Warren Robison, Anton Bowden, and Brian Jensen, Brigham Young University Engineering Using a coronary stent to expand a blocked blood vessel as a way to treat coronary heart disease has proved effective in the past. However, there are risks, such as thrombosis, that are a natural side effect of inserting a foreign object into the body. Creating a stent out of a hemocompatible material such as carbon-infiltrated carbon nanotubes could potentially resolve these issues and also make unnecessary treatments such as dual antiplatelet therapy as a way of decreasing the risk of adverse side effects. Previous research done in this lab has shown that carbon-infiltrated carbon nanotubes can be grown in a pattern defined by photolithography on a planar surface. The present work demonstrates preliminary results from patterning a flat, flexible substrate and rolling it into a cylindrical shape before growing carbon-infiltrated carbon nanotubes as a way to fabricate cylindrical stents, fulfilling all necessary specifications for a stent with the added benefit of hemocompatibility. We also demonstrate growth on curved substrates and explore process parameters for achieving good-quality CNT forests.
Theo Stoddard-Bennett and Steven Christiansen, Brigham Young University Engineering Damage to the human retina is often irreversible and so currently there are no established treatments of diseases such as dry age related macular degeneration (AMD). Dry AMD results in a loss of sight because of cell death in the macula, a centralized part of the retina which contains a high concentration of photoreceptor cells. One possible treatment would be to limit the rate of cell death within the macula, however this is not a comprehensive solution. Rather, regeneration of the photoreceptors within the retina is necessary to restore sight. In current research, Müller glia cells, a major glial component of the retina, can potentially be used as sources for photoreceptor regeneration in order to combat dry AMD due to their homeostatic regulation of retinal injury. Directed reprogramming would occur through a five step process. The Müller glia would need to undergo de-differentiation to Müller glia-derived progenitor cells (MGPCs), proliferation of MGPCs, migration of MGPCs, neuronal differentiation, and integration in order to generate retinal neurons. Müller cells can be isolated and cultured by dissociating retinal tissue in optimal media. Here we present the dissection and dissociation of rat retinal tissue to obtain purified proliferating Müller cell cultures. Our lab has tracked and modelled the rates of proliferation and phenotypically characterized the stages of proliferation. Using immunofluorescence and PCR tests to confirm purity, we will then expect to run a series of assays to identify growth factors, Wnt signals and cytokines to test the effects of retinal extracellular matrix proteins on Müller cell de-differentiation to MGPCs. The focus of our current research is the identification of reprogramming mechanisms that may possess beneficial data leading to both unique strategies for promoting retinal regeneration in mammals and clinical applications for those living with dry AMD.
Benjamin Buttars, Jeffrey Nielson, Spencer Baker, Jonathon Thibaudeau, Angela Nakalembe, Tim
Dan Barfuss, Brigham Young University Engineering Shale oil has long been seen as a source of energy that can be incorporated into existing infrastructure. It consists of kerogen (or organic matrix) bound to inorganic rock. This kerogen can be released as an oil-like substance by heating it up to high temperatures without the presence of oxygen (i.e., pyrolysis). Due to advances in NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) we were able to make an accurate structural based model that can predict the relative tar and light gas yields. We modified the Chemical Percolation Devolatilization Model (CPD) of coal to fit with the more aliphatic nature of oil shale. The CPD model describes the aromatic regions as clusters and aliphatic regions as bridges. As these bridges are broken the model releases groups of clusters that will form tar. In coal the bridge breaking gives off light gases, whereas in shale oil the bridges are much heavier and mostly form tar. We built two models that accounted for this. We also used the composition of the tar and the gas found by Fletcher et. al.  to predict what elements would be left and the aromaticity of the carbons. We found that throughout the reaction new aromatic regions were formed. With information from this model,- we are able to better predict the products of oil shale pyrolysis, and describe what happens chemically.
Adam Herron, Jared Thomas, Shawn Coleman, Douglas Spearot, and Eric Homer, Brigham Young University Engineering For many years, x-ray diffraction and electron diffraction have served as effective means to understand and classify the molecular structure of many materials. Diffraction, as a physical phenomenon, is well known and theoretical diffraction simulation is relatively simple for perfect crystalline structures of known orientation. Prior methods of diffraction simulation, however, are insufficient to predict experimental diffraction patterns of unknown crystal structures or of crystal structures with high defect density. Recent advancements in computing capability and development of atomistic simulation software have greatly enhanced our ability to predict material properties and behaviors under various conditions. Atomistic simulation has become an extremely useful tool in the analysis of dynamic chemical and mechanical systems. It can only be truly effective, however, when it models a real-world application, can be interpreted coherently, and can accurately predict future conditions. Thus, we are developing new tools that bridge the gap between electron diffraction through real materials and simulated diffraction through atomistic simulations. We present a method of generating Kikuchi Diffraction Patterns from atomistic simulation data with no a priori knowledge of the crystal structure or crystallographic orientation. Our research was inspired by the recent work of Coleman et. al. 2013 and builds on their methods of calculating diffraction intensity at discrete locations in the reciprocal domain. We improve on their method by introducing an integration of the structure factor to ensure complete capture of diffraction intensity peaks while maintaining a relatively low density of sample points. This allows us to significantly reduce the required computation time on the analysis of atomistic simulation data. We use this diffraction data to generate simulated Kikuchi Diffraction Patterns.
Conner Earl, Brigham Young University Engineering The emerging field of Cell-free protein synthesis enables the efficient production of complex proteins for a number of exciting applications such as medicines that better interact with the body, vaccines, antibodies, and renewable, sustainable biocatalysts. However, progress is hampered by high costs and low yields of necessary proteins. This project is designed to improve protein yields and drive down costs by studying techniques of optimization of protein yields in Cell-Free protein synthesis. Our main area of focus is the inhibition of naturally occurring ribonucleases (RNAses) which are enzymes that degrade essential elements for protein synthesis- specifically, the mRNA used to transcribe protien. One of the techniques we intend to use for inhibition of these RNAses is by complexing the RNAse with an appropriate RNAse inhibitor protein thus limiting or eliminating its function of degrading mRNA. The aims of this research project is to: (1) Identify appropriate RNAse inhibitors (2) Design and synthesize inhibitor genes (3) Express, purify and assay RNAse inhibitors (4) Improve Cell-free protein synthesis yields utilizing RNAse inhibitors for analysis of activity and effectiveness as well as the enhancement of cell-free protein synthesis yields. Accomplishing these goals will result in more efficient systems and more accurate analysis that may lead to cheaper, more readily available vaccines and pharmaceuticals produced through Cell-free protein synthesis.
Nandini Deo, University of Utah Engineering Air quality in the United States has come under scrutiny in recent years. Many pollutants are trapped in the air we breathe in the form of photochemical smog. The aim of this research is to aid the breakdown of these pollutants. Peroxyacetyl Nitrate (PAN) is a predominant smog species; the research conducted aims to decompose this molecule and capture the resulting particles using the photocatalytic properties of Titanium Dioxide Nano tubes. The research conducted thus far has focused on the following questions:What molecules does the thermal decomposition of PAN produce? Is there a metal substrate to attach to TiO2 Nano-materials that aids the breakdown of PAN and its decomposition products? Can a sustainable process/device be identified to functionalize these materials? Literature research shows that PAN thermally decomposes into CO_2, NO_2, methyl nitrate, and formaldehyde. Methyl Nitrate and CO_2 may be eliminated using specific experimental conditions. Hence, it can be determined that the substrate attached to TiO2 must decompose PAN, NO_2 and formaldehyde. Using the molecular modeling programs Avogadro and MOPAC, 50 metals were optimized in relation to Formaldehyde, NO_2, and PAN. To find each metal’s reactivity to each target compound, HOMO/LUMO (Highest Occupied Molecular Orbital/Lowest Occupied Molecular Orbital) energies were calculated and used to find the common reactive metals between the target compounds: Cobalt, Silver, Iridium, and Niobium. To test whether the most complex product of the PAN decomposition (Formaldehyde) will break down, a device was created using a 3-D printer and Cobalt functionalized nanotubes. Pure formaldehyde, a blank sample (no tubes), and a sample with functionalized tubes were run through the device in the form of vapor, in front of a solar simulator. The captured vapor’s GC/MS results show an almost complete breakdown of Formaldehyde with the use of the device containing the functionalized tubes.
Scott Anjewierden, James Newton and Joshua Barrios, University of Utah Engineering Organisms in their natural environment are constantly presented with sensory stimuli. These stimuli must be filtered by the brain to select an appropriate behavioral response. A significant example of this filtering process is audiomotor prepulse inhibition (PPI). In PPI, the startle response to a loud noise is suppressed by a preceding stimulus of lower intensity. This ability to optimize behavior in response to environmental context is an essential brain function. Defects in PPI are associated with neurological disorders such as obsessive- compulsive disorder, Tourette syndrome, and schizophrenia. This project demonstrates the development of new software to analyze swim kinematics in a restrained, larval zebrafish model of PPI. Our programs automatically extract several kinematic parameters from image sequences of behaving animals and use them to classify behavior into one of three, stereotyped categories. Correct classification is reported in 96.32% of trials (n = 162). This automated analysis will now permit a more robust study of PPI in these animals, where the brain’s experimental accessibility will allow us to discover the cellular bases of sensory filtering.
Steven Stanley, Brigham Young University Engineering The genetic code has long been restricted to a set of 20 fundamental building blocks called amino acids. Recent research has expanded the genetic code through unnatural amino acids (uAA), thus adding enormous possibilities to the potential chemistries of proteins. Because nature is highly selective in the protein translation process, it has proven extremely difficult to successfully insert multiple uAAs simultaneously. The incorporation of an uAA with in vitro methods typically relies on the use of the amber stop codon as a mutated insertion site. A stop codon placed at the middle of a gene can code for either the uAA or termination, thus, protein synthesis may often terminate prematurely instead of inserting the desired uAA. This inefficiency inhibits the possibility of inserting multiple uAAs simultaneously. We propose a novel method that will allow for multiple uAAs to be inserted simultaneously. Our method involves isolating a minimal set of tRNA for in vitro protein synthesis, allowing for uAA insertion to occur at codons other than the amber stop codon. My work has focused on the production of 4 versions of uAA-tRNA synthetase, a protein that charges tRNA with the uAA. We are currently growing these 4 different proteins in bulk and testing their activity. We will test them for compatibility, confirming that they do not interfere with one another and other synthetases native to our in vitro protein synthesis system. These uAA-tRNA synthetases, in conjunction with specialized tRNA, will provide the basis to efficiently incorporate multiple uAA simultaneously. The success of this project will have many practical applications ranging from new therapeutics to new methods of medical diagnosis.
James Newton, Scott Anjewierden, and Sasha Luks-Morgan, University of Utah Engineering Oxytocin (OXT), a neuromodulatory peptide produced by the hypothalamus, is involved in a variety of physiological and behavioral phenomena. Exogenous OXT and drugs that mimic OXT signaling are potential treatments of a number of neurological disorders. The canonical mechanisms of OXT function are neuroendocrine in nature, as the peptide is released into circulation through the neurohypophysis. However, OXT has also been shown to exert some of its effects through direct synaptic release within the central nervous system. Using the larval zebrafish as a model, we seek to identify targets of these directly projecting OXT neurons and study what role they play in the modulation of behavior. Critical to this analysis are computer programs which enable precise quantification of anxiety, social behavior, and reward learning. Our custom-written software automatically identifies and tracks free- swimming fish, using measured positions over time to evaluate behavior in a variety of paradigms. In combination with molecular, cellular, and optogenetic manipulation of OXT networks, this project will allow a fuller understanding of the relationship between these neurons and behavior.
Varvara Jones, Utah Valley University Engineering Mobile devices are promising tools today to people’s life thanks to lower-cost hardware, steep subsidies from wireless carriers and the popularity of mobile apps. Equipping with touchscreen is the point of fulfillment for all that a mobile device promises to deliver to normal users. However, few mobile devices today have been built that address accessibility and usability of the touchscreen for a wide range of physical capabilities and challenges. In this research, we investigate human capabilities, environmental factors and hardware ergonomics that can improve the usability when people with impairment disabilities use a touchscreen-equipped mobile device.
Benjamin Lindsay, Brigham Young University Engineering Current treatments for cancer and diseased tissue often cause severe side effects due to drug interactions with healthy cells. In order to minimize these effects, we are developing a nano-scale near-infrared (NIR) light-responsive drug delivery system based on liposome-encapsulated perfluoropentane (PFC5) emulsions with gold nanorods in the PFC5 phase. The nanorods efficiently convert NIR light to heat, vaporizing the liquid PFC5 emulsions, which have boiling points near body temperature. Emulsion vaporization increases the volume inside the liposome enough to burst the phospholipid bilayer and release encapsulated cargo. This system will allow continuous therapeutic drug release localized at the site of NIR laser irradiation with a low-power, portable NIR laser diode. To date, we have successfully loaded PFC5 emulsions with gold nanorods and have loaded liposomes with PFC5 emulsions. Previous work in our lab has shown that a release to the cytosol of cells can be induced by ultrasound using similar liposomes. Experiments designed to demonstrate NIR laser-induced cargo release are currently in progress. We will continue to improve upon this system over the coming months to increase release and decrease the required laser power.
Restoration of continence via electrical stimulation following surgically induced incontinence in felines
Shana Black, University of Utah Engineering Goals: The pudendal nerve (PN) was targeted in attempt to create controlled micturition via intrafascicular electrical stimulation (IES) following the onset of surgically induced incontinence. We investigated both the effectiveness of unilateral and bilateral transection of the PN in creating a model of urinary incontinence and the ability of IES of efferent fibers to excite the external urethral sphincter (EUS) in order to restore a controlled voiding pattern. High Density Utah Electrode Arrays (HD-USEAs) were used to provide IES in these studies.
Anthony Bennett, Brigham Young University Engineering Foot Mouth Disease is considered to be the greatest hindrance to livestock trade in the world. The disease is extremely contagious and can transmit via aerosol, food scraps, and through blood, and tears among other transmission routes . Currently, technological challenges hinder eradication efforts due to a wide variety of FMD strains, high vaccine production costs, as well as limited efficacy of vaccines across strains . The countries most affected by the disease also face economic, social, and political challenges to disease eradication. Based upon historical evidence disease eradication has proven to be possible as shown in the US, the UK, and other countries . In this presentation, we highlight these challenges and propose various routes to eradication in order to open up economic opportunities to developing countries as well as eliminating the threat of a disease outbreak in countries currently free of the disease. Morgan, E.R., et al., Assessing risks of disease transmission between wildlife and livestock: The Saiga antelope as a case study. Biological Conservation, 2006. 131(2): p. 244-254.Parida, S., Vaccination against foot-and-mouth disease virus: strategies and effectiveness. 2009.Perry, B. and K. Sones, Poverty reduction through animal health. Science, 2007. 315.
Bryce Ostler, Utah Valley University Engineering Much of SQL’s power derives from SQL’s declarative rather than procedural nature: a programmer describes the result desired rather than how to produce the result. Systems using SQL must translate SQL’s declarative language into a procedural language in order to execute queries. Relational Algebra (RA) is a procedural language that SQL can be transformed into and executed on a computer using a RA engine. Optimizations are applied to RA code to improve the performance of a translated query. The author of this abstract will present a simple RA engine written in Python and how it has been used as part of a Database Theory course.
Christopher Hutchings, Brigham Young University Engineering The biocatalysis industry has been rapidly expanding due to the fact that there has been a greater demand for ecologically friendly manufacturing processes. The benefit of biocatalytic systems is that it enables stereo-, chemo-, and regio- specificity in chemical manufacturing. This in turn reduces wasteful byproducts from chemical manufacturing. This is especially valuable in industries where removal of chemically similar but physically harmful waste products is essential. The problem with the traditional biocatalytic processes is that they are hindered from limitations in areas such as enzyme stability, leaching, recoverability, and reusability. These limitations significantly impede the cost-effectiveness of biocatalysis for industrial applications. The processes of enzyme immobilization like adsorption, entrapment, and other such forms of immobilizations provide improvements such as stability, recoverability, and reusability. Though they provide improvements they also go through enzyme leaching, complicated or even toxic conjugation procedures and have a lack of specificity to attachment location from. This ends in being counterintuitive and defeats the purpose of enzyme immobilization. It is here we start to build upon the recent advancements in unnatural amino acid and incorporating them into enzymes to demonstrate a biocompatible and covalent enzyme immobilization process that improves protein stability and enables attachment orientation control. This system we refer to as the Protein Residue-Explicit Covalent Immobilization for Stability Enhancement or PRECISE system, and it permits the covalent attachment of enzymes at potentially any location on the enzyme onto a surface. Using this process, we create reusable enzymes that are more stable and more resistant to harsh conditions. We have also concluded from this process that there is no leaching and increased stability from immobilization with the enzyme with satisfactory results in enzyme activity.
Neil Hinckley, Brigham Young University Engineering Due to the increasing interest in combining the physical and digital world devices which allow users to naturally interact with digital systems are becoming much more important and prevalent. In order to improve upon standard haptic controllers and interfaces we explored compliant haptic devices, which us a compliant member to provide tunable force feedback to users. We were able to produce a prototype device and demonstrate some of the capabilities and advantages of compliant haptic devices.
Daniel Smith, Brigham Young University Engineering Although it is known as a graceful sport, figure skating can take a serious toll on skaters’ bodies. Considering that figure skaters commonly train five days per week, with 50-100 jumps per day, it is not surprising that repetitive stress injuries are a serious issue in figure skating. Because the forces associated with these jumps are poorly understood (including their magnitudes, loading rate, and when they occur) training plans designed to prevent injury are incapable of preparing athletes to best avoid their negative effects.