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Sarah (Xiao) Wu, Ph.D.

Sarah (Xiao) Wu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor


Engineering Physics 404



Mailing Address

Chemical & Biological Engineering
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 0904
Moscow, Idaho 83844-0904

  • Ph.D., Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota, 2009 
  • M.S., Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, University of Minnesota, 2006
  • B.S., Environmental Engineering, Wuhan University of Science and Technology, 2004

  • Waste/biomass conversion for energy and chemical uses
  • Plasma technology for food processing, renewable energy and chemicals/materials
  • Advanced water and waste treatment technology
  • Microbiology and biochemical kinetics related to biological treatment of waste waters

Sarah (Xiao) Wu joined the Department of Biological Engineering as a tenure-track assistant professor in August 2016. Prior to joining U of I, Professor Wu has four years of experience working as a postdoc (later promoted to research associate) with the University of Minnesota and two years with the Chemical Engineering Department in Tshing Hua University in Beijing, China.  Professor Wu has training in Environmental and Biological Engineering with research experience covering a wide range of topics in studying advanced technologies to treat animal wastes and crop production residues for nutrients management and resource recovery. Xiao’s research interests include biological, physical and chemical processes for animal manure and organic waste treatment and nutrient management with strength in evaluation, research, development, improvement and application of various bioreactors; bioresource recovery, bioenergy and biohydrogen, nutrient cycling to produce value-added products, and bioconversion and bioremediation; and environmental microbiology and biochemistry. She is also developing and evaluating a novel non-thermal plasma system (for which Professor Wu has a pending patent) to convert soybean oil and/or other wasted oils to biodiesel in a much more efficient way than does the conventional transesterification method.

  • Wu, X., S. Deng, J. Zhu. “Liquid plasma discharge device and method for biodiesel synthesis using SAME”, Provisional IP Disclosure – U.S. Patent Application Serial No.: 62/286,715.

Book Chapter

  • Wu, X., 2015. Basic Concept 2: Biohydrogen Production. Gas Biofuels from Waste Biomass: Principles and Advances 21-36. Nova Publishers, Hauppauge, NY.

Refereed Journal Articles

  • Wu, X., J. Zhu, H. Lin. 2016. In-depth observations of fermentative hydrogen production from liquid swine manure using an anaerobic sequencing batch reactor. Journal of Integrative Agriculture. Doi: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61108-X. 
  • Lin, H., X. Wu, and J. Zhu. 2016. Kinetics, equilibrium and thermodynamics of ammonium sorption from swine manure by natural chabazite. Separation Science and Technology 51(2): 202-213.
  • Lin, H, X. Wu, C. Nelson, C. Miller, J. Zhu. 2016. Electricity generation and nutrients removal from high strength liquid manure by air-cathode microbial fuel cells. J. Environ. Sci. Health Part A 51(3): 240-250.
  • Wu, X., J. Zhu. 2015. Simultaneous removal of nutrients from milking parlor wastewater using an AO2 sequencing batch reactor (SBR) system. J. Environ. Sci. Health Part A 50(4): 396-405.
  • Wu, X., J. Zhu, J. Cheng, and N. Zhu. 2015. Optimization of three operating parameters for a two-step fed sequencing batch reactor (SBR) system to remove nutrients from swine wastewater. Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology 175(6): 2857-2871.
  • Cheng, J., F. Kong, J. Zhu, X. Wu. 2015. Effects of stabilization and sludge properties in a combined process of anaerobic digestion and thermophilic aerobic digestion. Environmental Technology 36(21): 2786-2795.
  • Cheng J., F. Kong, J. Zhu, and X. Wu. 2015. Characteristics of oxidation-reduction potential, VFAs, SCOD, N, and P in an ATAD system under different thermophilic temperatures. Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology 175(1): 166-181.
  • Lin, H., X. Wu, B. Hu and J. Zhu. 2014. Microbial electrochemical systems for agro-industrial wastewater remediation and renewable products generation: a review. Arc. Micro. Biotech 1(1): 1-20.
  • Lin, H., X. Wu, C. Miller, J. Zhu, L. J. Hadlocon, R. Manuzon, and L. Zhao. 2014. Pilot-scale field study for ammonia removal from lagoon biogas using an acid wet scrubber. J. of Environ Sci. Health Part B 49(6): 439–448.
  • Wu, X., H. Lin, J. Zhu. 2013. Optimization of continuous hydrogen production from co-fermenting molasses with liquid swine manure in an anaerobic sequencing batch reactor. Bioresource Technology 136:351-359.
  • Wu, X., J. Zhu, C. Miller. 2013. Kinetics study of fermentative hydrogen production from liquid swine manure supplemented with glucose under controlled pH. J. of Environ Sci. Health Part B 48(6):477-485.
  • Lin, H., X. Wu, C. Miller, J. Zhu. 2013. Improved performance of microbial fuel cells enriched with natural microbial inocula and treated by electrical current. Biomass and Bioenergy 54:170-180.
  • Yao, W., X. Wu, J. Zhu, B. Sun, C. Miller. 2013. In vitro enzymatic conversion of γ-aminobutyric acid immobilization of glutamate decarboxylase with bacterial cellulose membrane (BCM) and non-linear model establishment. Enzyme and Microbial Technology 52(4-5):258-264.
  • Liu, Z, C. Zhang, Y. Lu, X. Wu, L. Wang, L. Wang, B. Han, X. Xing. 2013. States and challenges for high-value biohythane production from waste biomass by dark fermentation technology. Bioresource Technology 135:292-303.
  • Wang, L.; Z. Liu; T. Wang; X. Wu; C. Zhang; Qunhui Wang; X. Xing. 2013. Optimization of culture conditions for Clostridium cellulolyticum. Chinese Journal of Biotechnology 29(3):392-402.
  • Dong, C, J. Zhu, X. Wu, C. Miller. 2012. Aeration efficiency influenced by venturi aerator arrangement, liquid flow rate, and depth of diffusing pipes. Environmental Technology 33(11): 1289-1298.
  • Wu, X., C. Dong, W. Yao, J. Zhu. 2011. Anaerobic digestion of dairy manure influenced by the wasted milk from milking operations. Journal of Dairy Science 94(8): 3778-3786.
  • Yao, W., X. Wu, J. Zhu, B. Sun, C. Miller. 2011. Enhanced Production of Glutamate Decarboxylase by Batch, Fed-Batch, and Repeated Batch Cultivations of Escherichia coli. ASABE Biological Engineering Transactions 4(4): 169-182.
  • Yao, W., X. Wu, J. Zhu, B. Sun. 2011. Comprehensive evaluation and selection of the potential complex medium for industrial glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) production by Escherichia coli. Int. J. Agric. Biol. Eng. 4(2): 74-82 
  • Yao, W., X. Wu, J. Zhu, B. Sun, C. Miller. 2011. System establishment of ATPS for one-step purification of glutamate decarboxylase from E. coli after cell disruption. Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology 164(8):1339-1349.
  • Yao, W., X. Wu, J. Zhu, B. Sun, C. Miller. 2011. Bacterial cellulose membrane - a new support carrier for immobilization of yeast for ethanol fermentation. Process Biochemistry 46(10): 2054-2058.

  • Biodiesel production from agricultural wastes.
  • Rapid and continuous biodiesel synthesis by liquid plasma discharge.
  • Co-fermenting waste molasses and swine manure for hydrogen and methane production.
  • Wet-gas scrubber for hydrogen and methane gas purification.
  • Struvite production from effluent of two-step SBR operations for biogas production.
  • Microbial fuel cell for swine manure treatment and energy generation.
  • Synthetic ecology on hierarchical carbon electrodes for clean energy generation from biomass.
  • Synthetic microbial consortia for hydrogen production form lignin-cellulosic materials.
  • Lactic acid fermentation using dairy manure as the sole carbon and nitrogen source.
  • Co-digesting the wasted milk from dairy operations with cattle slurry to reduce water pollution.
  • Wet scrubbers for the recovery of NH3 emission from animal feeding operations for fertilizer.
  • Enhancing CH4 productivity by co-digesting swine manure with crops.
  • A field-scale surface aeration system to control odor from open liquid manure storage facilities.
  • A field-scale sequencing batch reactor to treat dairy milking parlor wastewater for small- to mid-sized producers.
  • Laboratory-scale study on hydrogen production in a fermentative bioreactor semi-continuously fed by swine manure.
  • Dairy milk parlor wastewater treatment demonstration.

Contact Us

Engineering Physics Building Rm. 419

Mailing Address:

Chemical & Biological Engineering
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive
Moscow, ID 83844

Phone: 208-885-6182

Fax: 208-885-7908