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EIU Integrates Research and Learning in Center for Clean Energy Research and Education (CENCERE)

 

Eastern Illinois University is known for its progressive and forward thinking in the region.  Committed to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and to lead a sustainable environmental and energy practice, the university received the approval from the state legislature to construct a Renewable Energy Center (REC).  The REC uses biomass and gasification technology to meet the complete steam and partial electricity needs for the whole campus, replacing the existing coal-burning physical plant.  It is considered a "living laboratory" for our students to learn the realistic operation of a renewablpoplar and miscanthuse energy technology.

In order to integrate research and learning with the opportunities brought with the Renewable Energy Center, the university has established a multi-disciplinary Center for Clean Energy Research and Education (CENCERE).  It involves staff from facility management (campus operation), students and faculty from various departments including biological sciences, business, chemistry, communication studies, economics, geology and geography, physics and technology. 

With a grant from Charleston Area Charitable Foundation, CENCERE has acquired a laboratory scale gasification system which enables us to experiment with various biomass feedstock.  The university is actively pursuing opportunities to develop an energy park that includes the Renewable Energy Center, demonstration plots of energy crops, a research and development facility, an industrial training facility and a clean energy incubator. 

Faculty and students affiliated with CENCERE have the following interests in sustainable bio-energy research:

A. Bio-Resource Development

  1. Genetic modification of energy crops to minimize the input and maximize the energy output

  2. New source development for bio-fuel including bio-oil

  3. Partnership with regional farmers

  4. Supply chain development


B. Processing for Bio-Fuel

  1. Processing and densification of agricultural residues (for example, corn stover) as renewable energy sources

  2. Processing of other biomass (such as miscanthus) for efficient fuel

  3. Bio-diesel from bio-oil and waste oil


C. Bio-Energy Conversion

  1. Gasification of biomass

  2. Sugar to fuel conversion (fermentation) including cellulosic fuel.

  3. Micro-biological digestion

  4. Gasification of municipal solid waste for energy


D. Chemical Synthesis and Analysis

  1. Synthesis of liquid fuel from biological sources or syngas

  2. Chemical analysis of fuels and processes


E. Environmental, Economic and Social Impact

  1. Environmental and ecological study including biodiversity on the impact of energy crops, and removing agricultural residues

  2. Bio-char and ash: environmental impact and carbon management

  3. Economic and social impact: collaboration with farmers and communities

  4. International partnerships


F. Computer Systems for Bio-Energy

  1. Geographic information system (GIS)

  2. Computer simulation for bio-energy system development and decision making

  3. Computer simulation for energy management, efficiency and conservation

 

Center for Clean Energy Research and Education (CENCERE)
Eastern Illinois University
August 2011