Rolls-Royce, Purdue aerospace takes flight with new jet engine facility

March 23 2017

Rolls-Royce has officially moved into the Purdue Technology Center Aerospace, a 55,000-square-foot facility in West Lafayette, where the company will conduct research and development for jet engine components.

More than 250 people attended the Thursday (March 23) dedication celebration for the first building in the 980-acre Purdue Research Park Aerospace District Located at 1801 Newman Road, West Lafayette, Indiana.

“We are proud of our long-standing partnership with Purdue University and are excited to take it to the next level as the first business to locate at the new Purdue Research Park Aerospace District,” said Rolls-Royce North America President and CEO Marion Blakey. “This expanded collaboration will help us develop new and critical capabilities for our customers around the world who are seeking quieter, cleaner and more powerful engines.”

The new research facility will further assist Rolls-Royce in:

* Designing, developing and testing jet engine components.

* Collaborating with Purdue researchers through corporate partnerships.

* Recruiting future talent of Purdue student interns and graduates.

“It is highly appropriate that the first company to move into the Purdue aerospace district would be Rolls-Royce, an international leader in aerospace research and development,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “Rolls-Royce and Purdue have a long history of collaboration that has proven positive for Rolls-Royce, for Purdue and for the students at Purdue.”


‘Smart’ leg mobility device could provide hands-free, comfortable, effective alternative to conventional crutches

March 22 2017

Individuals with lower leg injuries could soon be saying goodbye to traditional crutches with the development of a hands-free alternative that is more comfortable and potentially more effective. The device, developed by Purdue University graduates, could provide ergonomic and natural movement and transmit real-time recovery data to physicians.

“Six and a half million people in the U.S. today use devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes. Traditional crutches are the most common device used for rehabilitation in lower leg injuries,” said Nikko Sadural, the device co-inventor. “Crutches pose several limitations such as user difficulty on stairs, nerve ending damage under the arm, and no access to hands and arms to complete daily tasks. A more user-friendly, comfortable and effective option is needed.”

The device, named the Clutch Crutch, attaches to the user’s upper thigh and straps around the foot and ankle to provide hands-free support. The device could be used for injuries such as a sprained or broken ankle, an Achilles tear, fractured or broken tibia or fractured or broken foot. In addition to Sadural, co-inventors are Brett Adams, Andrew Fan, Jeffrey Cargill, Sameer Saiya and Junyan Lim, all graduates of Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering.


Living ‘BioWall’ of plants could clean household air, lower energy bills

March 22 2017

Homes of the future could have cleaner air and lower energy bills due to a Purdue team’s BioWall innovation involving the use of a living wall of air-cleaning plants.

“Over the past century there have been initiatives to create more airtight buildings that increase HVAC efficiency and reduce power consumption,” said Scott Massey, a Purdue senior majoring in mechanical engineering technology and member of the BioWall research team. “Unfortunately, the side effect of this trend is that is has reduced indoor air quality. The BioWall is a solution for that problem.”

The BioWall is an air filter consisting of shelves of plants built into a wall and attached to a home’s HVAC system. Built-in systems provide light and water. A fan behind the unit draws air into the BioWall and through the growth media where microbes in the plants’ roots process volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. The plants also remove carbon dioxide from the air. The cleaned air then returns to the home’s HVAC unit for heating or cooling.

The current prototype has been in place at the ReNEWW House since 2016. A joint venture between Purdue and Whirlpool Corp., the ReNEWW House - a retrofitted, net-zero energy, water and waste house - is a 1920s era home near the Purdue campus for graduate students to monitor a host of incorporated novel energy-saving technologies.

Data from the ReNEWW House shows the BioWall prototype has the potential to reduce HVAC energy consumption by up to 25 percent because less outside air is required for ventilation.


Novel technology could provide a faster, inexpensive way to detect, monitor dengue fever, Zika virus

March 21 2017

Purdue researchers are developing an integrated biosensing platform aimed at detecting and monitoring mosquito-borne diseases faster and cheaper than current methods, to aid in preventing virus outbreaks and their devastating effects.

Lia A Stanciu, a Purdue professor of materials engineering, is leading the research and development of the technology. Additional researchers are Ernesto Marinero, professor of materials engineering and electrical and computing engineering; and Richard Kuhn, professor and department head of biological sciences and director of the Purdue Institute for Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Diseases. Kuhn also led the research team that were the first to determine the structure of the Zika virus.

“Over one billion people around the world suffer from one or more neglected tropical diseases (NTD). These diseases, such as dengue fever, yellow fever and the West Nile virus, are classified as NTDs because they largely affect poor populations in the developing world and are a low public health priority for developed continents like North America and Europe,” Marinero said. “NTDs, as well as the Zika virus, are transmitted by vectors such as mosquitoes and ticks. Climate change and an increase in travel are causing these types of diseases to steadily spread around the globe, which increases the need for better monitoring and detection methods to help prevent outbreaks.”

Stanciu said that current detection methods for neglected tropical diseases are often time-consuming, expensive and complicated.


Cook Medical, Purdue partnership drives life-improving innovations to the public

March 15 2017

A $12 million partnership between Cook Medical and Purdue Research Foundation has already infused $3.2 million in startups that support the commercialization of life-improving innovations developed at Purdue University.

The not-for-profit Foundry Investment Fund, established in 2014, is designed to feed a “garden plot” of emerging biomedical and life sciences technologies and moving such innovations to the public at an accelerated pace.

Already benefiting from the fund is Symic Bio Inc., a life sciences company that originated from Purdue University’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and received nearly $450,000. Symic is developing new therapeutics for multiple diseases including cancer and osteoarthritis. Some are already in clinical trials. SpeechVive Inc., a company that developed a device to help people with Parkinson’s disease improve communication, received $225,000. Spensa Technologies Inc., an agronomic company with pest management platforms and a hardware device designed to reduce manual crop scouting, received $515,000.

For Cook Medical and Cook Biotech, one of the Cook companies based in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette, the fund is another way to give back. Cook worked with Dan Hasler, president of Purdue Research Foundation, to establish the Foundry Investment Fund.


Specialized compound could lead to chronic pain relief without the use of opioids

March 14 2017

Purdue researchers have discovered a compound that could lead to the treatment of chronic pain without the need for patients to rely on opioids.

A team led by Val Watts, associate


and professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology in Purdue’s College of Pharmacy, said the compound shows unparalleled selectivity in inhibiting the adenylyl cyclase 1 (AC1).

Adenylyl cyclases are enzymes that organize the production of cyclic adenosine monophosphate, an important biological messenger in numerous organisms. There are 10 isoforms of adenylyl cyclases found in humans. Numerous studies have suggested that AC1 could be used as a drug target for chronic pain.

The compound identified at Purdue has shown selectivity for inhibiting AC1 versus the other nine isoforms.

“With the AC1 technology, there’s a chance to treat chronic pain directly or through reducing the side effects of the opioids,” said team member Richard van Rijn, assistant professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology in Purdue’s College of Pharmacy. “There’s an issue with misuse of opioids used to treat chronic pain. They are good as a short-term analgesic for acute pain, but don’t address the underlying issues of chronic pain.”


Breakthrough discovery may make blood test feasible for detecting cancer

March 07 2017

Doctors may soon be able to detect and monitor a patient’s cancer with a simple blood test, reducing or eliminating the need for more invasive procedures, according to Purdue University research.

W. Andy Tao, a professor of biochemistry and member of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research and colleagues identified a series of proteins in blood plasma that, when elevated, signify that the patient has cancer. Their findings were published in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Tao’s work was done with samples from breast cancer patients, but it is possible the method could work for any type of cancer and other types of diseases. The work relies on analysis of microvesicles and exosomes in blood plasma.

Protein phosphorylation, the addition of a phosphate group to a protein can lead to cancer cell formation. So phosphorylated proteins, known as phosphoproteins, have been seen as prime candidates for cancer biomarkers. Until now, however, scientists weren’t sure identification of phosphoproteins in blood was possible because the liver releases phosphatase into the bloodstream, which dephosphorylates proteins.


People with visual impairments could identify scientific images on a computer screen through STEM-designed assistive technology

March 07 2017

Purdue University researchers are developing software in a “haptic device” that could give people with visual impairments the ability to identify scientific images on a computer screen using their other senses.

Ting Zhang, a graduate student in the Purdue School of Industrial Engineering, is developing a system that involves a specially designed joystick attached to a computer. The joystick controls a cursor. When the cursor moves across an object on the screen, force feedback,

vibrations and sound cues give the user information about the object’s size, shape, texture and color to help them identify the information displayed on a computer screen. A YouTube video is available at:

Working under the guidance of Brad Duerstock, associate professor of engineering practice in the School of Industrial Engineering and Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, and Juan Wachs, associate professor in the School of Industrial Engineering, Zhang is trying to address the number of students with visual impairments who become involved in STEM studies. A 2014 National Science Foundation publication reports that no more than 1 percent of people who are visually impaired are involved in advanced science and engineering research and receive doctoral degrees.

“How science is conducted and how findings are typically represented is usually quite visual, making it difficult for students with visual impairments,” Duerstock said.

“We’re hoping this technology can be used by schools in the future to assist students with visual impairments study science,” Zhang said

Conventional methods to assist such students include printing tactile representations of computerized images on expensive 3-D sheets of material.


Discovery Park announces Big Idea Challenge winners

March 09 2017

Following oral presentations on Feb. 23, a panel of judges and Discovery Park administration have reviewed the proposals and determined the winners of the Big Idea Challenge, a program that will provide resources to interdisciplinary teams of Purdue faculty and students pursuing bold proposals that address global challenges.

The winning proposals and principal investigators of the Big Idea Challenge competition that will receive funding are:

* Affordable Net Zero Housing and Transportation Solutions—Leigh Raymond (Liberal Arts).

* Revolutionizing Control of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases—Catherine Hill (Agriculture).

* Harnessing Technology and Info Fusion to Enable Resilient and Sustainable Food-Water Balance—Dave Ebert (Engineering).

* Photonics Science and Technologies for Security, Energy and Healthcare Apps—Yong Chen (Science).

* Realizing Next-Generation Smart Manufacturing—Nate Hartman (Polytechnic).

* Towards Cyber-Physical Vetting of Critical Infrastructures— Dongyan Xu (Science).

* Managing the Global Commons: Sustainable Ag and Use of World’s Land and Water Resources—Tom Hertel (Agriculture).


Purdue student teams accepted for Rice Business Plan Competition

March 06 2017

Two groups of students from Purdue University will participate in the annual Rice Business Plan Competition in April.

PathVis, a graduate student team from the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, and Tri-D Dynamics LLC, a startup founded by two graduate students from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, will compete in the three-day contest beginning April 6.

Both teams are among only 42 from around the world accepted to this year’s competition. Teams compete for more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes.

PathVis was accepted after submitting a one-minute video pitch. They are developing a smartphone technology that will monitor and track pathogen outbreaks. The technology aims to provide real-time data on disease detection so that health care resources can be more efficiently targeted to areas of need.

Tri-D Dynamics co-founders Alex Finch and Deepak Atyam were behind the first 3-D-printed and tested rocket engine from a university group in the world. The Purdue students want to establish their engines as a less costly alternative than traditional methods to small satellite companies.