University of Minnesota

'BTN LiveBIG' shines spotlight on critical University of Minnesota research

Globally unique eco-friendly fertilizer and innovative work in wearable technology are featured

January 22, 2014

The next installment of the Big Ten Network series, "BTN LiveBIG," will showcase University of Minnesota researchers creating fertilizer from the wind and exploring the future of wearable technology. The episode debuted Wednesday, Jan. 22.

The show will also air Saturday, Feb. 1 at 3 p.m. (after Gopher men’s basketball vs. Northwestern) and Monday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. (after women’s basketball at Michigan State).

Fertilizer from the Wind
Located in Morris, Minn., the U’s West Central Research and Outreach Center (part of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences) is also home to the only production plant of its kind in the world. There, University researchers have taken a unique, interdisciplinary approach to solving important challenges facing the agriculture industry, economy, energy system and environment. Led by Mike Reese, the center’s director of renewable energy, the team has developed a method to combine hydrogen and nitrogen – both chemical elements present in water and air – to create ammonia that can be used as eco-friendly fertilizer. This process eliminates the need for fossil fuel sources in fertilizer production, a limited natural resource that drives up costs and creates a large carbon footprint.

Smart Clothes
For Professor Lucy Dunne, director of the Apparel Design Program and Wearable Technology Lab in the College of Design, clothes represent more than a fashion statement – they are potentially life-saving pieces of technology. Her team, which relies heavily on the talent and contributions of students, is exploring ways to integrate technology into clothing design and manufacturing, creating apparel that – for example – could monitor heart rate, sense physiological signals, send and receive messages, and alert wearers to possible dangers with tactile and visual sensors. In recognition of her ongoing work on wearable technology prototypes for use in space, Prof. Dunne will receive NASA’s prestigious Silver Achievement Medal this coming April.

"BTN LiveBIG" shines a light on the community of Big Ten students, faculty and alumni who are making a difference in the world through innovations in research, education and community service.

Check your local listings for where to find the Big Ten Network.

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