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Green fuel research at UMass

By: Emily Reynolds

 

The movement for green fuels has reached UMass. Chemical engineering professor George Huber has received a grant with three other universities to research the creation of fuel from wood and corn waste.

The funding comes from a $1.9 million dollar grant from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), part of the Department of Defense. Huber will use the products that come from the wood and corn waste to create a product that will become a liquid fuel, such as JP-8, or jet propellant 8, which is used in military operations.

While making the waste into a liquid has been done before, Huber and his colleagues are trying to make the system more efficient. Their goal is to get more fuel with less product and in a more cost efficient manner.

While biomass products, organic material from plants or animals, could replace a lot of petroleum and fossil fuel products, there are not many ways to cost-effectively get these new fuels. Today, about 3 percent of energy used in the United States comes from biomass products.

Huber’s main goal is to look at the creation process and find new ways to reach the same result, making the transformation of the biomass into liquid fuel more efficient.

Huber is working with W. Curtis Conner Jr. and Geoff Tompsett of UMass, along with researchers from the Universities of Wisconsin, California, and Delaware.

Emily Reynolds can be reached at ereynold@student.umass.edu.

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