U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, as well as U.S. Rep. John Carney recently announced the University of Delaware’s Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (CCEI) has received a $12 million grant from the U.S Department of Energy.
This grant is aimed at accelerating scientific breakthroughs necessary to to aid the economy and the environment.
CCEI is an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC), and is one of 32 EFRCs selected to receive a part of $100 million worth of funding to foster progress in energy production, storage and use. It was established in 2009 during the first phase of EFRC funding. CCEI was chosen recently during the second phase based on scientific merit, progress in the first phase, strength of management and the ability to conduct high-risk research while adapting to changing directions in response to new developments.
“The key is conducting impactful research in a highly collaborative environment where the center, as a whole, is greater than the sum of its parts,” CCEI Director and UD professor of chemical engineering Dionisios Vlachos stated in an email. “CCEI is the only catalysis center to be selected for continuation into the second phase.”
Additionally, it is one of 23 university-led projects. CCEI is a multi-institutional research center comprised of 20 faculty members from 10 different institutions and two research labs. Those partnered with UD, the lead institution involved, include Brookhaven National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rutgers University.
With this funding, CCEI will continue to develop catalytic technologies to transform plant biomass into renewable fuels and chemicals.
“CCEI will develop biomass-derived chemicals that can replace petroleum-based chemicals in consumer products, such as clothing, plastic bottles, and food packaging,” Vlachos said.
This type of research changes the way energy is created and products are manufactured. It is beneficial to the community at large for both economic and environmental reasons.
“CCEI’s research has the potential to replace costly enzyme-based processes by converting biomass, such as trees and grasses, into chemicals that can be used in the production of plastics, which are currently made from petroleum-based chemicals,” Vlachos said. “This research can have a major impact on the creation of bio-refineries in the U.S. as well as the environment by reducing carbon dioxide emissions.”