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From biomass to transportation fuel

By Virginia Speirs

Sushil Adhikari, professor of biosystems engineering and director of the Center for Bioenergy and Bioproducts, was awarded more than $700,000 by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs for the project “Advanced Liquid Transportation Fuels from Co-Liquefaction of Forest Biomass and Waste Plastics.” 

The money was awarded out of the $4.8 million Alabama Research and Development Enhancement Fund, and five universities across the state of Alabama were awarded a portion. The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering received $1.6 million for various projects. 

Adhikari’s project focuses on converting forest biomass and plastic waste into transportation fuels. This will utilize both the natural abundance of forest resources the South has to offer and the environmental nuisance of plastic waste, in order to convert it into an environmentally-friendly liquid fuel alternative, according to Adhikari. 

Most of the award will be used to recruit graduate students and postdocs who will work on the project, and the rest will be used to purchase critical research equipment to build Auburn’s research infrastructure for biomass and plastic pyrolysis. The project team will leverage existing infrastructure and expertise at the Center for Bioenergy and Bioproducts at Auburn. 

“We have been working on converting biomass into energy for a long time, and receiving funding from ADECA to advance the process shows the importance of this research for our state,” Adhikari said.