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Mizzou Engineering at the Capitol

Like many working for the nano revolution, Mizzou Engineering sophomore Daniel Tappmeyer is convinced that the science of very small things is enormously important to our future.

So Tappmeyer traveled to Jefferson City for this year’s undergraduate research day at the Missouri State Capitol in hopes of shoring up legislative support for nanotechnology research, which works with atom-sized particles. The April 17 event offered Tappmeyer an irresistible opportunity to discuss the university’s potential role in developing nanotechnology’s great promise.

“It’s going to be huge here in the future,” contended Tappmeyer, a chemical engineering major running three MU nanotechnology research projects.

Tappmeyer is working to extend the life cycle of nano-sized copper oxide to provide an alternative to lead-based detonators, which spew hazardous emissions into the air during an explosion. The concepts underlying that technology may also form the foundation of a new nano-drug delivery tool, he said.

Another of Tappmeyer’s nanotechnology projects would create a chemical detonator, eliminating the need for electronic or mechanical explosive devices.

Six Mizzou Engineering students shared their research with state legislators, showcasing projects in biological, chemical, civil and electrical and computer engineering. This year’s event featured the work of more than 50 undergraduate students from all four University of Missouri campuses.

Karen Blaha and Shannon Klaus, both MU chemical engineering juniors, exhibited their research on converting plant and animal wastes into hydrogen fuel using extremely hot and pressurized water.

Klaus touted the process as a relatively clean and odor-free source of energy that uses less water than other alternative fuels. The chemical engineering students had an interested listener in Rep. Rodney Schad, the Republican vice chair of the Missouri House’s special committee on energy and environment.

“They (students) are our future, and it’s very encouraging for me to know that they are right in the middle of it,” Schad said.

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