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Scalable Energy Conversion Science & Technology Strategic Cluster Hire


The focus of the Institute for Scalable Energy Conversion Science & Technology (ISEC-S&T) will be to address the fundamental science and technology barriers that need to be overcome in order to economically produce and utilize small and otherwise underutilized energy sources in an environmentally beneficial manner. At the present time, the production and delivery of energy is dominated by extremely large capital investments, extensive supply and distribution infrastructure, and processing plants that economically scale only to very large sizes. As a result of these current technical limitations, many smaller, more remote, or seasonally available energy sources are grossly under-utilized, functionally stranded, and/or flared or vented into the environment (with deleterious results). Candidate energy sources that are suitable for smaller scale processing plants include, among others: agricultural and forest biomass, land fill gas, anaerobic digester gas (biogas), food wastes, coal wastes, and a vast and ever growing number of small oil and gas wells that populate Alabama as well as the Bakken (North Dakota) and the Eagle Ford (Texas) formations.

The university environment is ideal for this research focus. The energy industry is focused on immediate return on investment and low risk. The university with a diverse research background and a longer term strategic horizon is the right place to develop this science and technology portfolio. Auburn’s recent activities in bioenergy research highlight the need to reduce the scale of bioenergy-conversion technologies as well as the logistical systems employed to supply biomass to centrally located processing facilities at economically feasible costs. Furthermore, a number of the scalable gas-to-liquid (GTL) approaches needed for biogas or flare-gas conversion are almost identical to those required for agricultural or forest biomass, meaning that the fundamental approaches to be investigated in the Institute are central to the research and development agendas of all participating Colleges.

The focus of this Institute is timely, unique to Auburn, and addresses pressing societal needs in energy security, environment and economic development.

To accomplish the focus, the Institute will facilitate and leverage the scholarly and educational activities of both existing faculty as well as new cluster hires by studying the fundamental science of processing of these materials into liquid fuels or chemical feedstocks, or by testing new and existing methods for tailoring this fundamental science to new technologies that can be mobile and applied in the field. The focus of this Institute is timely, unique to Auburn, and addresses pressing societal needs in energy security, environment and economic development.

Positions Open:

Department of Biosystems Engineering:
Department of Chemical Engineering:
Department of Chemistry:
Department of Chemistry and BioChemistry:
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences (SFWS):

Sponsoring Colleges/Schools

The core thrusts of the Institute will be complementary and supportive of existing ongoing faculty activities from the following colleges/schools:

College of Agriculture
College of Sciences & Mathematics
Samuel Ginn College of Engineering
School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences

Contact Information

Dr. Bruce Tatarchuck
ISEC-S&T Cluster Leader

Charles E Gavin III Professor & Director
Department of Chemical Engineering
Samuel Ginn College of Engineering
Phone: 334-844-2023

Last Updated: October 17, 2016