From Biomass to Energy

September 7, 2011

unm-rentechDr. Karl Kharas drove to Albuquerque recently using green diesel made from natural gas. He had just enough fuel to complete the roundtrip from Denver in an Audi sporting the logo, “Eureka! Diesel drives the future.” 

Kharas is a scientist who works at Rentech, a Colorado company that is developing a process to convert biomass to liquid fuels. The company’s goal is to create sustainable domestic liquid fuel. His visit was to use UNM School of Engineering catalysis equipment in a lab headed by Abhaya Datye, Distinguished Regents Professor of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering and Director of the Center for Microengineered Materials. “Not that many places have equipment and expertise in this area,” says Kharas. “Dr. Datye is internationally known and UNM’s microscopy and catalysis characterization is superb.” 

Kharas and Datye have known each other for 20 years. Kharas says that he has seen five catalysts to market, and one was through collaborations with Datye.

Photo: Dr. Karl Kharas of Rentech (left), drove  the company car fueled with green diesel to UNM to collaborate with Prof. Abhaya Datye and Research Professor Dr. Hien Pham.