Bright news for energy research

The Sun Grant Initiative has announced that it will make a fund of $2.5m available over the next three years to researchers developing new energy sources from agricultural products.

The programme will fund seed-grant projects that allow investigators to explore possible renewable energy sources and processes, and integrated projects that require multi-institutional participation. The seed-grant projects will receive $35,000 per year for up to two years, while the integrated projects will receive $125,000 per year for up to three years.

‘These much-needed research projects are made possible through funding from the US Department of Transportation,’ said Clarence Watson, director of the Sun Grant Initiative’s South-Central Region, based at Oklahoma State University (OSU).

According to Ray Huhnke, agricultural engineer and associate director for the Sun Grant’s South-Central Region, the grants will be awarded to seventeen projects on a competition basis.

‘We use a competitive grants process. Seventy-six projects from across the region were proposed, and these were reviewed for technical merit and regional impact by experts representing a wide variety of career disciplines.

‘The intent is to develop useful new technologies and knowledge that can be brought to the marketplace,’ said Huhnke.

Projects to be undertaken include the study of effects of syngas sources on ethanol production via fermentation, the evaluation of sweet sorghum hybrids as a bioenergy feedstock and the development of a skid-mounted gasification system for onsite heat, fuel and power production.

Scientists and engineers who will benefit from the funding are based at universities in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico.