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Biofuels Research Laboratory

Established in 2006 as part of the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment, the Biofuels Research Laboratory explores advances in feedstock production and energy conversion to support the development of biomass as an energy resource.

Biofuels, which are created from plants and renewable sources, are an alternative to fossil-fuels that present fewer undesirable consequences for our environmental resources. Although corn and soy are well-known biofuel sources, our research center is developing fuels and energy systems based on microalgae, which can be grown faster and more efficiently than any other plant. We are studying not only the technology to increase the fuel value oil fraction of algae in multiple stage reactors, but also the cultivation and processing of algae for oil extraction or other processing, such as gasification and Fischer-Tropsch reforming, to produce a variety of transportation fuels, including synthetic gasoline, diesel, and aviation (jet) fuel.

Additional biofuels studies involve recycling waste grease from the food-service industry and the use of virgin crops such as sunflowers as a source of biodiesel.