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Mamalis, Lawler Win $1.49M DOE Grant to Advance Biofuels

Biofuels professors

SBU faculty members Sotirios Mamalis and Ben Lawler have received a $1.49 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – Vehicle Technologies Office to advance the next generation of biofuels. Both are assistant professors in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stony Brook University. Their proposal, “Naphthenic Biofuel-Diesel Blend for Optimizing Mixing Controlled Compression Ignition Combustion,” was selected as part of a total of $10.1 million in funding to Engines and Fuels research projects.

Biofuels professors
Mechanical Engineering Professors Sotirios Mamalis and Ben Lawler

“Our research will advance the state-of-the-art of biofuels by introducing a new naphthenic blend produced from loblolly pine,” said Sotirios Mamalis, assistant professor of and the principal investigator (PI) for the project. “It will also provide a detailed set of experimental data showing the effects of the biofuel addition on diesel engine combustion and help identify the next generation of biofuels that can pave the way towards carbon neutral transportation.”

“This research will help invent technologies that promote energy efficiency and environmental sustainability with the potential to impact the future of transportation fuels, while offering significant benefits through reduction in greenhouse gases and improved air quality,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.  “Sotirios and Ben are relentless in their pursuit of new technologies that offer alternatives to traditional fuels and combustion. I applaud their efforts and look forward to the outcomes of their research.”

This project is focused on developing and testing a new biofuel that can be used in current and future diesel engines, to displace petroleum-derived fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and power generation. Unlike existing biofuels that are largely derived from food crops, the proposed biofuel is derived from loblolly pine, which makes it more economically attractive.

Stony Brook has partnered with RTI International (North Carolina), a non-profit research organization, which will investigate the production and upscale of the new biofuel. Stony Brook University will evaluate the biofuel’s chemical properties, and test it in a research engine to assess its performance compared to conventional diesel fuel. The project team will also analyze the lifecycle of the new biofuel, including production and combustion in the engine, to quantify the greenhouse gas reductions that it can offer compared to petroleum-derived fuels. Throughout the execution of this project, the team will work with a group from the DOE National Laboratories that is focused on developing advanced biofuels for future internal combustion engines. The project will be conducted over a period of three years.

The award is among 42 projects totaling $80 million selected for funding by the DOE to support advanced vehicle technologies that can enable more affordable mobility, strengthen domestic energy security, reduce the U.S. dependence on foreign sources of critical materials, and enhance U.S. economic growth. This work supports DOE’s goal to invest in early-stage research of transportation technologies that can give families and businesses greater choice in how they meet their mobility needs.

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