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Nature Reports on Research of Two School of Engineering Faculty

May 13, 2009

cover-natureThe April 30 issue of Nature magazine reports on the confluence of energy research in New Mexico, with special emphasis on research conducted by two School of Engineering faculty: Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Professor Abhaya Datye and Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Stephen Hersee. Datye is director of Nanoscience and Microsystems at UNM. Hersee is associate director of the NSF Engineering Research Center on Smart Lighting.

Nature writer Paul Smaglik reports, "Abhaya Datye, professor of chemical and nuclear engineering at the University of New Mexico in Abuquerque, has a five-year, $2.5-million grant from the National Science Foundation to help turn algae into biofuels by improving the catalytic process that turns organic matter into biofuels, triggered by the Sun. Datye is drawing on research interactions with Sandia, major automakers and fossilfuel companies, with input from students and postdocs. He says that students and postdocs from Germany and Denmark as well as from Iowa State University, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Virginia will rotate among labs involved in the grant. They will also work with industrial partners, including Haldor Topsoe, a large Danish catalyst company."

The article continues, " Alternative energy sources are not the only focus; New Mexico scientists are looking to reduce energy consumption as well. Stephen Hersee, a professor of materials at the University of New Mexico, has a head start. He is part of a collaboration that, last September, received a grant from the National Science Foundation that could total $30 million over 10 years. The collaboration's goal is to reduce the amount of energy used for lighting, beyond the capability of compact fluorescent light bulbs. The next step is improving the efficiency of light-emitting diodes. Hersee estimates that changing all US light bulbs to solid state would reduce the country's energy bill by 20%. And as solid-state bulbs don't contain mercury, they don't present the same disposal problems caused by compact fluorescents. Hersee and colleagues' group is large and diverse, with some 20 researchers across three centres plus another 80-100 undergraduate and graduate researchers. Sandia is also involved and the collaboration is seeking 12 industrial partners." PDF of article from Nature, volume 458, April 30, 2009.