CLEMSON — Clemson University associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering David Bruce will participate in a multi-university Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) funded with $12.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy. The Center for Atomic-Level Catalyst Design (CALCD) is focused on the development of new catalysts for the production of clean fuels and chemicals from renewable sources.

“The scientific research efforts of CALCD, combined with those of 45 other new EFRCs, are focused on the development of lower-cost renewable fuels that can be produced in the U.S.,” said Bruce. “The ultimate goal is to develop new environmentally friendly reaction processes that will help to decrease the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels.”

Bruce said that most renewable fuels now must be subsidized by government entities to be cost-competitive with fossil fuels. The materials that will be developed by the catalyst design center will enable renewable fuels to be produced at a lower cost and allow more of the feedstock to be converted into usable fuel and chemical products, which will further reduce the carbon footprint of new production processes.

Bruce will receive $714,000 for five years to use advanced computational methods to provide the molecular insights needed for collaborators on the project to prepare catalyst materials that are optimally suited to convert cellulose and other waste organic materials into renewable liquid fuels and bio-derived chemicals.

“Using state-of-the-art simulation and material-characterization methods, we plan to develop the next generation of catalysts and reaction processes that are needed to efficiently produce the bio-derived fuels of tomorrow,” said Bruce. “We expect to make significant discoveries in the coming years given the exceptional computational facilities at Clemson. The Palmetto high performance computer system and Internet 2 connectivity at Clemson will greatly enhance our abilities to model these reaction systems and interact with the other center investigators.”

The Center for Atomic-Level Catalyst Design, located at Louisiana State University, is a collaborative effort that includes 21 investigators from nine institutions in the United States and Europe. Bruce will serve as its coordinator for all simulation efforts. James Goodwin, a professor in the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Clemson, will serve as a consultant to the project for one year.

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