Samir Khanal of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources received two highly competitive U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture grants through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Foundation program. Khanal, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, had submitted two proposals to the program during the 2012–13 funding cycles, the first dealing with nitrogen transformations in aquaponics and the second discussing process control for high solids anaerobic digestion. Both proposals were selected for award.
Nitrogen transformations in aquaponics grant
Research suggests that nitrogen transformations may play a significant role in the production of greenhouse gases and consequently may affect climate change. Khanal was awarded a four-year grant of $500,000 that aims at determining the mechanisms and dynamics of nitrogen transformations in aquaponic systems to better understand the fate of nitrogen and to correlate these transformations with the numerous environmentally relevant microbial processes occurring in the system. Project collaborators include UH Mānoa Extension Specialist Clyde Tamaru and Assistant Researcher Hye-ji Kim and Columbia University’s Kartik Chandran.
The seed grant to initiate the project was originally awarded to Khanal as a supplemental fund during the 2011 funding cycle.
Process control for high solids anaerobic digestion grant
Anaerobic digestion has played, and will continue to play, a significant role in efforts to produce local renewable energy and promote a sustainable economy. Khanal was awarded a two-year grant of $150,000 that aims at developing a fundamentally sound engineering tool that can be employed as an early warning system of anaerobic digestion instability and that will allow for the effective utilization of ORP-based control measures for rapid correction.
Khanal, author of the bestselling book Anaerobic Biotechnology for Bioenergy Production: Principles and Applications, is globally known for anaerobic digestion research.