Category Archives: Energy

Energy & Environmental Systems weekly seminars

This spring, the Department of Energy and Environmental Systems will hold weekly seminars conducted by its doctoral students. All seminars will be held on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to noon. The location will vary between Fort IRC Room 410 and Gibbs 307.

The first seminar is this Thursday, Jan. 29, in Gibbs 307.

The seminars will cover a broad range of disciplines and topics, including carbon sequestration modeling, smart grid systems, sustainability in higher education, natural products’ immunotherapy effects on cancer, and topics relating to the NSF CREST Bioenergy Center and NSF Engineering Research Center for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials.

Dates and topics for the entire series follow the jump.

Continue reading

Visiting Fulbright biochemical engineer to speak: Bio-inspired look at energy and environment issues

What: “A bio-inspired journey through some research challenges of energy and environment,” a lecture by Dr. Ramkrishna Sen, Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Columbia University.

When, where, etc: Tuesday April 15, 2014, 11 a.m. to noon, Fort IRC, Room 410. There is no charge for the workshop.  Fulbright campus representatives and interested faculty are encouraged to attend.  To reserve a seat please email Brendan McKennedy.

Background: Dr. Ramkrishna Sen is an associate professor in the Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. He is currently working as Fulbright Visiting Faculty in the Department of Earth & Environmental Engineering, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Sciences at Columbia University.

Dr. Sen is a biochemical engineer by training and profession. He has been engaged in R&D in energy and the environment and healthcare. His team has been working on the process development and optimization for antitumor, broad-spectrum antimicrobial and biofilm-disrupting biosurfactants of marine bacterial origin; biosurfactant-enhanced remediation of heavy metals and polyaromatic hydrocarbons; biosurfactant-mediated MEOR and nano-particle synthesis; bioethanol from lignocellulosic biomass; biodiesel from microalgal lipid and non-conventional vegetable oils and algae based CO2 capture & sequestration (CCS) from flue gas coupled with waste water treatment.

The Outreach Lecturing Fund allows Fulbright Visiting Scholars who are currently in the United States to travel to other higher education institutions across the country.  Each year some 800 faculty and professionals from around the world receive Fulbright Scholar grants for advanced research and university lecturing.  The fund allows these scholars to share their specific research interests; speak on the history and culture of their home country; exchange ideas with U.S. students, faculty and community organizations; become better acquainted with U.S. higher education; and create linkages between their home and host institutions and the Council for International Exchange of Scholars.

Clean-energy developer Adewuyi, other faculty honored with 2014 Research Excellence Awards

A nationally recognized pioneer in clean-energy development has been named Senior Researcher of the Year at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Over a career of more than 25 years, Dr. Yusuf “Debo” Adewuyi has skillfully fused chemical engineering and environmental science to explore new dimensions of energy production, including the use of nanoscale materials and sound-wave technology for pollution control.

Dr. Adewuyi is one of five individual researchers and one research team selected this year for N.C. A&T’s highest research honor, the Research Excellence Awards. In addition to Dr. Adewuyi, the honorees are:

  • Dr. Justin Zhan, Department of Computer Science, Outstanding Junior Researcher;
  • Dr. Stephanie Kelly, Department of Business Education, and Dr. Lifeng Zhang, Department of Nanoengineering at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, co-winners of the Rookie of the Year award;
  • Dr. Salil Desai, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Intellectual Property Award; and
  • The NSF CREST Bioenergy Center, Interdisciplinary Team Award.

They were chosen from a field consisting of faculty members selected as researchers of the year by their colleges and schools. The winners and nominees will be honored Friday April 11 at the annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence.

Details on the winners follow the jump.

Continue reading

Bioenergy seminar: New Catalytic Approaches for the Production of Renewable Fuels and Chemicals

Seminar hosted by the Department of Energy and Environmental Systems and the NSF CREST Bioenergy Center:

Title: Process Development and Design of New Catalytic Approaches for the Production of Renewable Fuels and Chemicals

Where and when: Thursday, February 6, 11 a.m. to noon, New Science Building, Room 200

All EES CREST and Sustainable Bioproducts students must attend this seminar.  Others are welcome as well to hear this accomplished catalysis engineer and scientist.

Dr. George W. Huber

Huber

Speaker: Dr. George W. Huber, Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Huber’s research focus is on breaking the chemical and engineering barriers to lignocellulosic biofuels.  He is the co-founder of Anellotech, a biofuel company focused on commercializing catalytic fast pyrolysis, a new technology developed by Dr. Huber’s research group to convert biomass into gasoline-range aromatics.  His discovery of Raney-NiSn catalyst for hydrogen production from biomass-derived oxygenates was named as one of top 50 technology breakthroughs of 2003 by Scientific American.

Abstract: This presentation discuss different approaches for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals that are being developed in the Huber research group.  The presentation will highlight some of the challenges and future opportunities for future process development and design of new catalytic approaches.

Renewable aromatics and olefins can be produced from biomass by catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP). The aromatics can be used as a feedstock to make renewable polymers including polycarbonates, polyurethanes, polystyrenes, and polyethylene terephthalates.

CFP involves the direct production of aromatics from biomass in a single catalytic step. Solid biomass is fed into a fluidized bed reactor, where the solid biomass thermally decomposes. The biomass vapors enter a zeolite catalyst, where a series of dehydration, decarbonylation and oligomerization reactions occur to form aromatics, olefins, CO, CO2, coke and water. Coke is formed from homogeneous decomposition reactions or catalytic reactions inside the zeolite.

Fundamental catalytic studies with model compounds combined with in-situ and temperature-programmed techniques have aided in the design of improved zeolite catalysts for CFP. Hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) is a platform technology used to convert liquid biomass feedstocks (including aqueous carbohydrates, pyrolysis oils, and aqueous enzymatic products) into alkanes, alcohols and polyols. In this process the biomass feed reacts with hydrogen to produce water and a deoxygenated product using a bifunctional catalyst that contains both metal and acid sites. The challenge with HDO is to selectively produce targeted products that can be used as fuel blendstocks or chemicals and to decrease the hydrogen consumption.

N.C. A&T engineering student groups organize conference on sustainability in transportation

Engineering students are organizing a statewide conference, “Sustainability in Transportation,” to be held Thursday September 26 at N.C. A&T.

The full-day event is targeted to practicing civil engineers and transportation engineers, other professionals, faculty and students. The event is being organized by the A&T student chapters of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Students from universities across the state will present their research. Participating schools include N.C. A&T, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina Charlotte.

The morning session, “Facility Construction and Maintenance,” will begin at 8:30 a.m. After lunch, the afternoon session, “Design and Planning,” will begin at 1 p.m. Lunch is included in the registration fee, $50 for active members of ASCE and ITE and $60 for nonmembers. Student admission is free.

Professionals will earn three professional development hours for each session.

The conference will be held on campus in Coltrane Hall (building 12 on this map), the Godfrey Room. Parking will be available in the Laurel Street Parking Deck (building 43 on the map).

A&T and 3 Triad partners in solar electricity project

Sun shining over mountain (in Portugal, actually)

A&T, UNCG, WFU, and WSSU researchers are working on low-cost solar concentrators as a key to economically viable electricity generated from sunlight.

Four Triad universities are working together on a project to significantly reduce the cost of generating electricity from sunlight.

The Four Universities Solar Consortium is composed of scientists and engineers from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Wake Forest University, and Winston-Salem State University. 

The team’s specific goal is to develop a low-cost solar concentrator that will make the production of electricity from sunlight economically viable and widespread.

To do that, the team will have to advance the science of using concentrated sunlight to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen and then develop a way to store the hydrogen on site for capacity leveling. “This further requires developing and integrating, through industrial partnerships, three important supporting technologies for mirrors, waste-heat recovery, and high-temperature photovoltaics and catalytic reactors,” the team’s proposal says.

The project was one of three finalists for a $100,000 grant from the four schools’ Triad Interuniversity Planning Project (TIPP). The provosts of the schools are funding the one-year project. Each finalist previously received a one-year TIPP planning grant of $20,000. 

“We were betting in the planning phase that an acre of mirrors could be constructed more cheaply than an acre of efficient photovoltaics, and that the higher temperature of waste heat from concentrator systems will open routes for reclaiming some of it as electricity,” the team said in its proposal.

Continue reading

NSF CREST Bioenergy Center Spring Seminar: Thermochemical Processing of Biomass

Book cover: "Thermochemical Processing of Biomass"

Dr. Robert Brown’s book, “Thermochemical Processing of Biomass”

Dr. Robert Brown of Iowa State University will speak on “Thermochemical Processing of Biomass” for the spring seminar presented by the NSF CREST Bioenergy Center.

The seminar will be held on Thursday March 28, 11:00 a.m., in the New Science Building Room 200.

Thermochemical processing uses heat and catalysts to transform biomass to fuels and biobased chemicals. Thermochemical processing includes gasification, pyrolysis, and solvolysis, each of which has its advantages and challenges.  Dr. Brown’s talk will provide an overview of these processing options along with the results of recent studies at Iowa State University.

Dr. Brown is Anson Marston Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Gary and Donna Hoover Chair in Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University.  He is the director of ISU’s Bioeconomy Institute and the Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies. His research focuses on the thermochemical processing of biomass and fossil fuels into energy, fuels, and chemicals.