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College of Engineering and Computing


USC SmartState Center Shares $4-million NSF Grant

Researchers Look to Develop Catalysts

August 14, 2015 - The University of South Carolina’s SmartState Center of Catalysis for Renewable Fuels (CReF) was awarded half of a 4 year, $4-million grant to develop catalysts to recycle agricultural waste into valuable fuels and chemicals.

CReF is collaborating with the Center for Environmentally Benign Catalysis (CEBC) at the University of Kansas. Funding comes from the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

 The proposal is titled “Catalysis for Renewables: Applications, Fundamentals and Technologies (CRAFT).”  Professor JR Regalbuto, CReF director, teamed with CEBC’s director, Professor Bala Subramaniam, who lead the joint effort.  

“The powerful, complementary sets of research expertise in CReF and CEBC are a perfect fit,” said Regalbuto. “We will be able to address tough problems in biomass conversion that are only possible with a collaboration this large.”  

 CReF’s two assistant professors, Miao Yu and Aaron Vannucci, are among the chief beneficiaries of the award at USC.  

 “We are developing catalysts that allow fuels and chemicals to be produced from renewable sources such as waste from farms and forests,” said Regalbuto. “Research like ours can help the country become less dependent on imported oil and domestic coal.”

The grant will also partially support scientists in the University’s Electron Microscopy Center and X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometry Center.  

“This support for research infrastructure will give our students increased access to state of the art equipment, better preparing them for jobs within the energy industry of the future.”