WSU Tri-Cities faculty named National Academy of Inventors senior member

Washington State University Tri-Cities engineering professor Xiao Zhang has been honored as a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors.

The Academy recognizes senior members for their success in patents, licensing, and commercialization as well as for having produced technology that has, or will have, a significant impact on society. Zhang will be inducted formally at the Academy’s annual meeting in June in Washington, D.C.

Xiao Zhang
Professor, Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering

Zhang’s research centers around improving understanding of plant macromolecules, such as cellulose, lignin, and hemicellulose. Zhang has led the development of a number of bio-based product innovations for industrial applications, including: a cellulose-based coating for plant protection, foam packaging technologies, and lignin-derived composites and chemicals. Two technologies developed with WSU colleagues were recently licensed to multibillion-dollar companies.

Some of Zhang’s patented innovations include plant-based compositions to protect plants from cold damage; cellulose foams for high-performance insulation; conversion of knot rejects from chemical pulping; and fractionation of a waste liquor stream from nanocrystalline cellulose production. He has collaborated with many industrial partners on the development of these new bio-based materials and co-founded a start-up company, Pomona Technologies. Zhang is a recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER AWARD and C. Howard Smith Award from Pulp and Paper Technical Association of Canada. He holds a joint appointment with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Energy and Environment Directorate and is part of WSU Tri-Cities’ Bioproducts, Science, and Engineering Laboratory.