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For Immediate Release
March 19, 2007
For More Information Contact:
Rich Schneider, 317-278-4564

IUPUI Announces Renewable Energy Center Named for Senator Richard G. Lugar

Senator Richard G. Lugar

INDIANAPOLIS - A newly created renewable energy center at IUPUI has been named the Richard G. Lugar Renewable Energy Center, IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz announced today.

Bantz said the campus wanted to name the center for Indiana’s senior United States Senator because of Lugar’s steadfast leadership on renewable energy issues.

“Developments at the federal level underscore the growing awareness that renewable energy will play a leading role in ensuring U.S. energy independence,” Bantz said. “The creation of the Richard G. Lugar Renewable Energy Center is a direct response to that recognition. Senator Lugar’s strong support for renewable energy research has had an immeasurable influence on our nation’s collective thinking about the need for energy security.”

“I look forward to working with the IUPUI administration and faculty of the Richard G. Lugar Renewable Energy Center in the year’s ahead,” Lugar said. “Renewable energy research and commercialization of new energy technologies present unbelievable possibilities to strengthen U.S. national security and bolster the economy. Establishment of a center dedicated to the task of reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources creates an additional opportunity for Indiana to lead the nation to a new energy future.”

The center already is working to develop fuel cells powered by ethanol that could be used to operate military equipment such as cell phones, radios, laptops and vehicles. The center will receive $300,000 in campus research funds to advance its work. Additionally, officials at IUPUI and the United States Army Research Lab earlier this week agreed to collaborate on research into the use of renewable energy for military applications. Other potential sources of funding include Argonne National Laboratory, which is the lead Department of Energy laboratory for several renewable energy technologies. The Lugar Center Director and others have begun discussions about possible collaborations with Argonne and expect to finalize a Memorandum of Understanding between the two entities over the next month.

Other current center research efforts are aimed at the generation of hydrogen from renewable energy sources, needed to move the U.S. to a hydrogen economy, and ethanol fuel cells.

Other research will focus on clean combustion of renewable fuels and developing plants that produce more energy than existing plants do when used to make renewable fuels.

The center is believed to be the only one in the state focusing solely on renewable energy. It’s work will help expand markets for Hoosier farmers as well as Indiana ethanol plants.

Faculty from Schools of Engineering and Technology, Science, Public and Environmental Affairs and Medicine at IUPUI bring world leadership in renewable energy research to the center. The center will also serve as a focal point for experts in other fields across the campus and the campuses of Indiana University who are interested in renewable energy. The center also include faculty members from the IU Bloomington campus and IU South Bend Campus.

Some of the center’s work will have a near-term impact, said Andrew Hsu, associate dean for research and graduate programs in the School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI and a professor of mechanical engineering. He is also director of the center.

“One of things we are looking being able to do within two to three years is the conversion of renewable fuels like ethanol into gasoline, which will be needed until automobiles are equipped to use multiple fuels. If we can convert ethanol into gasoline, then we have a 100 percent renewable energy source for vehicles.”

Development of fuel reformers that convert ethanol to hydrogen will take longer, with mature products expected in three to five years. Work on fuel cells that use hydrogen to power vehicles, replacing gasoline-powered engines in cars will take 10 to 15 years, Hsu predicted.