Eastern Illinois University opens biomass research facility
Eastern Illinois University continued its dedication to clean energy today by opening its new research facility, Center for Clean Energy Research and Education, dedicated to alternative fuel exploration.
“Our students and professors at Eastern Illinois University will now be able to house their research projects focused on clean energy within a brand new 5,000-square-ft. state-of-the-art facility,” said Peter Liu, director of CENCERE.
“The research is designed to determine additional biomass fuels which could be used in EIU’s Renewable Energy Center which sits north of the research facility,” he said. “The Renewable Energy Center is helping to move biomass fuels from the research phase to commercial use so it’s great to have everything all at one site.”
The CENCERE facility contains a processing area, room for the gasifier and an analytical lab. The gasifier converts biomass into combustible gas with the resulting product being used for fuel, just like the one found at the Renewable Energy Center.
“The opening of CENCERE building will enable us to develop better collaboration between the Renewable Energy Center and academic units, among various departments across the campus, with our community and local schools as well as with entrepreneurs in the region,” Liu said. “Through our partnership, we are creating a better future for our students, for Eastern Illinois University and for our community.”
The new building also houses an “idea incubator” where students and faculty can connect with local businesses and community members to secure ideas for future projects.
“The idea incubator will create an exchange of ideas and knowledge for our community; starting with the youth to professionals and business owners with clean energy always at the forefront,” Liu said.
Members of the community, such as Charleston High School students, already are guided by EIU professors and undergraduate and graduate students as part of CHS’s renewable energy class started in fall 2013. Now, CHS students will be able to use the new facility to interact with EIU professionals.
“The Charleston High School class is only the start of the collaboration between EIU and the community in regards to clean energy,” Liu said.
The facility will also give additional support to the master’s in sustainable energy program, started at EIU in Spring 2013 as a collaborative effort by 10 departments across campus. The one-of-a-kind program allows students to receive a mixture of hands-on learning and theory inside the classroom, internships and research practicums.
The project for the facility was funded by the Charleston Area Charitable Foundation. EIU’s Board of Trustees formally approved the creation of the research facility on Jan. 14, 2011.