U of I Secures Funding to Support Sustainability at Northwest Food Processing Plants


MOSCOW, Idaho — Aug. 29, 2018 —The University of Idaho will work with food processors and suppliers in the Pacific Northwest to support reductions in their energy, water and waste footprints as part of a new Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant awarded to U of I and its partners around the state. 

The Idaho Department of Commerce recently released the first $700,000 installment of the $2.1 million grant earlier this month. An additional$1.4 million in funding is anticipated over the next two years. 

Professor Karen Humes, an expert in hydrology and geospatial science in U of I’s College of Science, will lead efforts to pilot, demonstrate and transfer technologies that will help food processors and producers reduce water and nutrient use, as well as recycle nutrients and other valuable byproducts.

U of I researchers will also use the award to provide interactive simulation models to help communities and business stakeholders better understand the interconnections and tradeoffs between energy, water, nutrients and land use. 

“Food producers and processing companies are on the front line of rapidly increasing consumer expectations for sustainability in both their operations and supply chain,” Humes said. “Reducing their energy, water and waste footprints will enhance their market competitiveness.”

The Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES), a research and education consortium between Idaho National Laboratory and four public research universities, including U of I, provided initial funding to support the proposal's development.  

The work will be carried out by researchers with expertise in multiple disciplines at U of I. Collaborators from Idaho State University and Boise State University will also participate.

“The College of Science is proud to be part of an effort that includes faculty from multiple disciplines across the University of Idaho, as well as collaborators from Idaho State and Boise State universities,” said U of I College of Science Dean Ginger Carney.

The IGEM grant is one way U of I is supporting the food industry in solving critical energy and water resource challenges. Since 2013, the university and Food Northwest, one of the nation’s largest food processing trade associations, have had a cooperative research relationship. This relationship includes ongoing discussions with CAES aimed at improving energy and water efficiencies through research, education and training at food processing facilities in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

“This working partnership between Food Northwest and our colleagues at CAES is an excellent opportunity to extend the growth of our vital food processing industry,” said Janet E. Nelson, U of I’s vice president for Research and Economic Development. “These efforts will provide transformative technologies on water and energy consumption for processing food and will help sustain the food processing industry through a workforce education program.” 

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to more than 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at www.uidaho.edu.


Media Contact: 

Phillip Bogdan
Marketing and Communications Manager
Office of Research and Economic Development
University of Idaho
[email protected]