A&T’s Dr. Debasish Kuila Secures $2 Million UNC ROI Grant to Convert Bio-Waste to Gasoline

The North Carolina General Assembly has provided significant investment in the UNC System’s strategic research goals by sponsoring three Research Opportunities Initiative (ROI) grants, one of which was awarded to Dr. Debasish Kuila, professor of chemistry at N.C. A&T, adjunct professor of nanoengineering in the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, research director of N.C. A&T’s NSF CREST Bioenergy Center, and adjunct professor at the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

The primary goal of Kuila’s and his interdisciplinary team members’ three-year research project is to convert animal and food wastes to gasoline, lowering the environmental footprint and costs of the agricultural enterprise, while simultaneously generating a fuel of immediate value to the farmer. The project will demonstrate proof-of-concept for a highly efficient, modular gas-to-liquids (M-GTL) technology that uses solar energy to convert biogas obtained from animal and food-wastes into carbon-neutral gasoline. The resulting M-GTL prototype will be used to attract robust private and public funding for scale-up and commercialization.

“Treating and disposing of bio-waste is an expensive, pervasive and challenging issue for North Carolina farmers,” explains Dr. Kuila. “The fact we can make needed fuel from bio-waste minimizes environmental issues and cost with an incentive for more state-wide biogas production and its utilization.”

Dr. Kuila’s multidisciplinary team includes Dr. Shyam Aravamudhan of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoenegineering, Dr. Lijun Wang of the Department of Biological Engineering at N.C. A&T, Dr. Michel Gagne in the Department of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Drs. Fanxing Li and Milad Abolhasani of the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University. The team also includes industry/institute collaborators Maverick Synfuels, C2 Energy, Eastman Chemical Company, Alpha-Omega Power Technologies and the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science. Eastman Chemical and the Kenan Institute are providing financial support to the effort.