Campus and Community

Sustainable Solutions

Oregon State University

Coastal Resources and Sustainable Communities

Understanding the power and potential of ocean waves is increasingly critical for the safety of coastal communities. For forty years, Oregon State University’s O.H. Hinsdale Wave Laboratory has been at the forefront of research designed to answer many of the most important questions surrounding our ocean’s waves.

Scientists and engineers from OSU and other leading research organizations use the facility to model and test waves of many different varieties. The Hinsdale Lab is specially equipped to study hurricane-related waves and tsunamis, which are of particular concern to the Pacific Northwest. Its nearly 14,000-square-foot tsunami wave basin is among the largest and most sophisticated of such facilities in the world, and its 342-foot-long wave channel allows researchers to study the effects of waves caused by big storms on various kinds of structures and geographic areas.

In recent years, the Hinsdale Lab has also served as a test site for scale-model power buoys that utilize wave energy. The Oregon coast is one of the world’s leading locations for studying wave energy, with some of the first buoys generating electricity for use on land scheduled for deployment in 2012.

Festival participants experienced a scale-model version of the wave flumes in use at Hinsdale, tried their hands at crashing waves over small Lego-structures, and learned about wave action and its impact upon the coastline and the communities that live there.

Feeding a Hungry Planet:
Surimi School

For nearly nine hundred years, the Japanese enjoyed surimi—a shimmering white gel made from leftover fish filets ground up with a dash of salt as a way to preserve the extra catch. In the 1960s, a Japanese chemist discovered surimi could be stabilized and frozen by adding sugar, giving it potential as a widely used food source.

In the United States, surimi is made mostly from Pacific whiting, a fish previously considered unusable because it loses quality rapidly, even when frozen. Oregon State University food scientist Jae Park and food engineer Ed Kolbe developed a process of sending electricity through the fish paste, generating heat, and rapidly stabilizing the paste into a gel that could then be made into surimi.

Dr. Park has shared this and other innovations through the university’s annual Surimi School. Since 1993, seafood processors, food developers, government agencies, and scientists have come to learn new techniques for making surimi and seafood products that imitate crab and scallops. Because surimi resists spoilage longer than fresh fish, it is a healthy, sustainable source of protein. Globally, the surimi market now uses more than three million metric tons of fish annually.

Oregon State’s Surimi School has expanded from the university’s Seafood Laboratory in Astoria, Oregon, to annual sessions in Europe and Asia. At the Festival, visitors learned about the history and evolution of surimi, both abroad and in the United States, and attended surimi-making demonstrations by Dr. Park and his colleagues.

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