User login

Please log in using your Environmental Health computer login. For help, please call 513-558-1040.

Follow UC_ERC on Twitter

ERC Logo

INTERDISCIPLINARY TRIP TO INDIANA ON MARCH 19-20, 2014

 Reported by: Latrice Moss, RN, BSN, Ashu Mani, Jean Schechtman, RN, BSN, Jennifer Leslie, RN, BSN, and Janie Allen-Blue, RN, BS

Students from the Occupational Health Nursing program and the Occupational Hygiene program and two professors participated in this tour to several interesting destinations in Indiana.

Nanotechnology Center

We had the privilege of visiting the state of the art Birck Nanotechnology Center, a research facility in Discovery Park at Purdue University. The tour was led by John Weaver, PhD, the Facility Manager, who is responsible for day to day operations but was also involved in the initial vision and design of the facility. The Birck Nanotechnology Center was designed with an interdisciplinary focus, dedicated to collaborative work among many disciplines. In our tour we were able to see this depicted in a chart showing how cross collaboration began between disciplines with just a few professionals and how it has expanded and resulted in significant research and published works.  Some of these disciplines include chemistry, electrical engineering, biology, mechanical engineering and physics.  In our tour we learned of the unique designs possessed by this facility that sets it apart from other like facilities. Some of these features include the largest and cleanest university cleanroom in the country. The cleanliness is measured by the amount of particles greater than a half micron in diameter per cubic foot of air. At Birck Nanotechnology Center, this measurement is 1 or less particles per cubic foot of air. This is partly achieved by precisely filtered air that is exchanged 9 ½ times a minute. The cleanroom also uses ultrapure water, free of all contaminants and minerals, making it the purest water in the world.  Other features we learned of on our visit include laboratories with specific engineering to dampen vibration, control the temperature down to 0.1 degrees Celsius and to eliminate any electromagnetic interference. These features are essential when working on a nanoscale to eliminate any outside interference with conducted research. Some types of research being conducted at the Birck Nanotechnology Center include energy conversion and heat transfer, nanophotonics and optics, bionanotechnology and nanomedicine, and nanoelectronics and semiconductor devices.

 

 

ADM Agricultural Innovation Center, Purdue University

The next destination was the Research Machining Services at the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Agricultural Innovation Center in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Our group met with Carol Weaver, the contact person at the ADM Agricultural Innovation Center, Purdue University.

The visiting students got a chance to see the Machining Laboratories, the central meeting/discussion room and the Farm Machinery parking garage. Dr. Weaver informed the students from UC about the numerous agricultural competitions hosted at the Purdue University. These competitions, some sponsored by industries, are held in the fields of agronomy, farm machinery, and horticulture. The ADM Agricultural Innovation Center organizes workshops for local farmers and works with them hand-in-hand to develop planting and harvesting schedules. The students were also told about the mobile air-quality monitoring lab (one of 50 such labs set up by NASA) which is not currently used; however, may be available for collaborative research should funds become available! One of the coolest equipment present at the facility was an automatic harvester capable of running un-manned. It had inbuilt GPS and can harvest based on pre-configured patterns programmed on the machine. 

While the students from UC were intrigued by a few cool equipment and a couple of undergraduate students slaving away in the machinery laboratory during spring break, the most interesting feature of the facility was the close collaboration between research, industry and the local farmers! The facility was a great example of how good science with the backing of industries can prove to be highly beneficial for the ultimate stakeholders of all the good research we do: the people! 

 

Meadow Lake Wind Farm

Next morning we visited the Meadow Lake Wind Farm.  Meadow Lake is part of EDP Renewable Energy North America LLC.  EDP has been building wind farms since 1996 and has been publicly listed since 2008.  EDP North America is part of a larger EDP that is based in Europe, and 63.8% of the employees are located in Europe. 

The process of developing a wind farm begins with locating an area with wind, but also with the power lines to carry the energy that will be generated.  White County in Indiana had such an environment, so EDP partnered with the farmers who owned the property as well as the municipalities in the area to plan a farm.  The area is assessed for an extended period of time to insure that the turbines will be positioned for the greatest results.  These turbines consist of three parts, the tower, the blades and the nacelle.  The blades each span 120 feet and had to be carried in on flatbed trucks, and the roads needed to be modified during that time.  The farm was built in 4 phases (with a 5th uncompleted at this time).  Each of the phases is managed by a different company.  There are 303 turbines with a capacity of 500 megawatts, which can power over 150,000 average homes. 

The tour bus drove the students to one of the turbines to observe the massive blades in motion.  There is a slight hum close to the turbine, but not much other noise.  The fields around the turbine are plowed, and continue to be used by the farmers.

 

Bio Town Ag

Their Vision: Mankind has the potential to improve the way in which we produce food, fuel, and fiber.

Their Mission: To explore new frontiers in agricultural sustainability where we creatively deploy technologies to eliminate the environmental impacts of past agricultural production processes. 

Bio Town Ag is a multigenerational family agribusiness with a 21st century approach to farming.  Located just north of Reynolds, Indiana in White County, Bio Town Ag’s Energy Center operates a proprietary, 100% sustainable closed-loop model that completely returns to the earth everything taken from it with nothing going to waste.

The farm is anchored by a 4500-head natural beef cattle feed operation and an 800-sow pork production facility.  A several-acre row-crop production component yields corn, soybeans and small grain that feed the farm’s livestock.  The farm receives organic waste by-products from Midwest companies.  The corporate by-product material is merged with manure from the livestock facilities to fuel a 7.2 million gallon anaerobic digester.  Methane from the digester powers 5 generators that put electricity on the grid, while other equipment separates the liquids and solids to produce fertilizer for the row crops.

The idea of farming as a strictly agricultural enterprise has been revolutionized, changing the output waste to usable energy and by-products.  Our tour guide and third generation family member explained that his father had the idea to build and operate an anaerobic digester capable of capturing the methane gas given off by decomposing manure, converting it to electricity, and using the by-products as fertilizer and fiber-based products.

The farm is successfully obtaining its goal.  At peak output, the methane gas generators supply 3 megawatts of electricity per hour.  This is enough green electricity to power 1800 homes.

More information can be found on their website:  www.biotownag.com

 

Evonik Corporation

The last stop was the Tippecanoe Laboratories of Evonik Corporation located in Lafayette, Indiana. The pharmaceutical laboratories were developed by Eli Lilly Company in 1953 and acquired by Evonik at the beginning of 2010. It is the company's second-largest site in the US. The acquisition of Tippecanoe represents an important milestone in the strategy of the Health Care Business Line.

The site totals 9.5 square kilometers or approximately 2,350 acres which include factories, farmland and a wildlife habitat. Products are active ingredients and intermediates for cancer drugs and veterinary drugs. High-potency active pharmaceutical ingredients (HPAPIs) are a growing area for pharmaceutical manufacturers and contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs). To manufacture these ingredients it takes specialized considerations in facility design, equipment, operation, and safety processes to achieve the desired level of containment of the drug substance or finished-drug product.

For drug-substance manufacturing, the HPAPI may be a small-molecule, biologic, or a hybrid of the two such as an antibody–drug conjugate, which links a cytotoxic small-molecule to a monoclonal antibody. Due to the high level of potent ingredients, safety for the protection of workers, the environment as well as the product is an essential element of the operation. Evonik uses containment systems which have multiple layers of containment technology including glove bags, contained transfer systems, clean surfaces, isolated waste and vent systems and PPE specified by industrial hygiene professionals.

The Evonik representative who led the students on tour is an industrial hygienist and the manager of the health and nutrition areas. The corporation also employs an occupational health nurse who is responsible for program development and support for OH compliance, health & wellness, worker’s compensation case management, administering and interpreting health surveillance testing and training support.

While I found everything quite interesting and was amazed at the technology involved in the production of these active pharmaceutical ingredients, I felt a high sense of urgency in terms of safety; however, contamination incidents were rare. Contamination could cause cancer, reproductive abnormalities and chromosomal changes to name a few.  The safe management of chemical contamination, cross contamination, asepsis is the foundation for the success of this organization.

Additional information can be obtained from: Evonik.com and

www.osha.gov/dts/osta/otm/otm_toc.html), in particular Section VI, Chapter 2.