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Dordt College News

New grant to support renewable energy research at Dordt College

August 29, 2012

The Iowa Office of Energy Independence has awarded Dordt College a five-year contract that will provide up to $60,000 in funding for equipment to support bio-renewable and sustainable energy research. This contract is awarded as part of a broader multi-million dollar National Science Foundation (NSF) EPSCoR project that funds initiatives and projects at Iowa educational institutions.

The grant will help provide resources to further the research that Dordt College Engineering Professor Ethan Brue has been conducting for several years. He, with the assistance of several Dordt student summer researchers, will use biomass waste products such as corn stover, switch grass, and wood chips from urban wood waste to create low-BTU combustible gas that can be used to process heat or generate electrical power.

“We have reached a point at which we need additional gas analysis equipment to explore variations in the quality of the gas we are producing. This grant will provide funds for the necessary instruments,” said Brue.

The grant will also provide opportunities beyond biomass gasification research. “The grant is about teaching and encouraging Iowa students to consider science, engineering, and other related fields within the broader field of renewable energy,” said Brue. “It will enable Dordt to collaborate with educators and researchers across Iowa.”

Harnessing renewable energy is a goal that resonates with one of the core objectives of the science and technology programs at Dordt College: to cultivate and care for our world. It is about caring for what God loves, the creation that he called ‘good.’” As the energy landscape changes from dependence on fossil fuels, the need for bio-renewable energy will increase. Research experiences are increasingly important for students who wish to pursue further graduate study, and this grant will allow Dordt to provide more undergraduate research opportunities.

The Dordt College engineering program has a tradition of excellent teaching and learning. It has a strong record of multi-disciplinary undergraduate engineering education, with pass rates on the national Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam that have consistently exceeded those  of some of the best engineering schools in the U.S. But Brue notes: “an institution can easily get caught up in research for the sake of recognition, and education for the sake of prestige; but Dordt has always been built on the foundation that our work is done to serve our neighbor.”

Learn more about Dordt’s engineering program at www.dordt.edu/engineering.

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