Washington State researchers get grant for modeling use of iron to refine bio-oils

In Washington state, a researcher at Washington State University has received a three-year $450,000 federal grant to develop computer models for using iron to more efficiently refine bio-oils and make better biofuels.

Jean-Sabin McEwen, assistant professor in the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, will collaborate on the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences grant with colleagues at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

As part of the three-year grant, McEwen and his colleagues will develop and test computer models to accurately predict catalysts’ behavior under real-life conditions. They hope the work will improve understanding of every aspect of the catalytic reactions and help researchers make better use of less expensive catalysts like iron.

In particular, the researchers will use their models to test their idea of combining abundant and cheap iron with miniscule amounts of precious metals to make an affordable and efficient catalyst for biofuel production.

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