Kansas State University set to break ground on Bulk Solids Innovation CenterThis Thursday, Kansas State University will mark the completion of its Bulk Solids Innovation Center, the first facility of its kind in North America, with a public ribbon-cutting ceremony. The two-story, 13,000-square-foot facility will be used to study the science and understanding of bulk solids materials handling. The ceremony will be held at 2:00 p.m. in the 600 block of North Front Street in Salina, KS.

The center’s mission is to assist businesses that use these materials or manufacture the systems that convey, store and dispense them. The innovation center houses six laboratories for university and industry-sponsored research; training and education, conference and lecture rooms; a material properties test lab; and a full-scale bulk solids test bay.

Groundbreaking on the building took place in July of last year. Since then, manufacturers from around the world have supplied more than $2.5 million in equipment donations to make the project a reality.

On June 24, the university will host a corporate open house for any industry partners and companies that are interested in collaborating with the facility or sponsoring research.

Kansas State University is the key tenant in the center; two local companies, Coperion K-Tron Salina and Vortex Valves, supplement the facility by serving as anchor occupants. University-level courses associated with bulk solids and professional development courses for industry professionals will be taught onsite. The university says students will assist with research projects, and outside companies will partner with the center to conduct product testing.

Bulk solids are comprised of loose, dry commodities such as sugar, starch, minerals, chemicals, pigments, fillers, plastic resin and recycled plastics. According to the university, these materials make up more than 80 percent of the items transported around the world.

“Bulk solids research is a somewhat underrepresented field, so having a facility of this magnitude in our backyard specifically for our students’ benefit is invaluable,” says Kurt Barnhart, associate dean of research and engagement at K-State Salina. Research at the new facility will focus primarily on the process industries of plastics, foods and chemicals.

 The innovation center is a project of Kansas State University in coordination with the following partners: the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, Salina Economic Development Corporation, US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, the state of Kansas and the city of Salina.