- Associated Press - Saturday, July 12, 2014

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - Construction has just begun on a new bulk solids research center in Salina, but the partners in the $3.5 million project are already looking forward to snaring contracts from some of the nation’s biggest companies seeking to improve their flow of materials such as grains, powders and pellets.

In the works for more than four years, the 17,000-square-foot Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center is expected to be ready for occupancy next April.

Officials of Kansas State have touted it as one of few facilities in the world devoted to the science of moving and handling bulk solids, and the only one in the U.S. with university-level participation.

Verna Fitzsimmons, dean and CEO of Kansas State’s Salina campus, said students will work at the center alongside business professionals and top international researchers, The Salina Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1oqJKRB ).

The project is a partnership of the city, the university and two Salina-based companies that will be its first anchor tenants: Coperion K-Tron, which designs and makes a wide range of materials handling equipment for companies around the world, and Vortex, which makes valves for handling bulk dry solids.

Coperion K-Tron general manager Todd Smith said at Thursday’s groundbreaking that representatives of companies including ExxonMobil, DuPont Pioneer, Proctor & Gamble and Cargill have expressed interest in having their problems researched at the center.

“They got excited,” Smith said. “They said ‘We will contract and work with K-State and employ them to do research, because we are having problems with our bulk-solids flow in our plant.’ “

Smith described bulk solids as the “dry, flowable materials” that are worked with in industry, including pellets, granules, powder and grain.

He offered a bread factory as an example of a manufacturer that could benefit from the center’s work.

Such a factory mixes flour, yeast, salt and sugar to make bread.

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Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, https://www.salina.com

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