For release: November 13, 2009
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901/678-2843
U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen
U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen announced a $500,000 grant to the University of Memphis
to continue research into a biofuel initiative that would make it easier to transform
common waste materials into fuel for internal combustion engines.
The grant will fund the research of the UofM’s Center for Biofuel Energy and Sustainable
Technologies (BEST) and the work of Dr. Srikant Gir, mechanical engineering professor
with the Herff College of Engineering at the University. Gir has already developed
a prototype version of his converter, which he demonstrated today in his lab for Rep.
Cohen and state and university leaders.
“By taking what some consider waste and refining it into fuel, the University of Memphis
is leading the way when it comes to using green technologies to develop sustainable
sources of energy,” Cohen said. “I commend the researchers for their incredible work,
and I was pleased to secure this infusion of federal funding on their behalf.”
Gir envisions similar devices becoming more and more common as the technology becomes
more prevalent, as the work force learns how to build and operate them, and as businesses
and the public become more and more accustomed to the benefits, both environmental
and economic, of recycling common materials that were formerly considered waste and
disposed of as such.
Gir believes that with a mature biofuel system in place, the world’s long-time dependence
on petroleum-based fuels could be drastically changed. He says biomass (the inclusive
term for the materials that a biofuel generator processes) is present in various forms
all across the nation and the world. Such materials could be converted to energy on
a local level, rather than a national one, eliminating the need for a huge infrastructure
that has traditionally been needed to move fuels from production site to final customer.
Gir also says localizing the fuel and energy-production businesses will bring economic
benefits, for example, spin-off businesses created to meet the needs of the new production
systems. He says much of the economic progress will be at the local levels, keeping
money at home, rather than paying distant corporations or other nations.
At present, the University is partnering with the state and national governments,
with other colleges, and with businesses and corporations to develop and refine the
technology, the training, and the infrastructure needed to make such a biofuel-based
energy system work. The half-million-dollar grant from the U.S. government will be
used to develop second-generation biofuel micro-refineries.
For more information, call Dr. Gir at 901-438-6078.