Proposed Biofuel Engineering Training Act

June 30, 2009

Congressman Harry Teague visits UNM to Discuss Biofuel Training

Fulghum-TeagueNew Mexico’s Second Congressional District Congressman Harry Teague visited the UNM campus to announce legislation intended to set aside funds for training and fellowships in accredited biofuels engineering programs. Teague says his bill will allow for a one time grant to study appropriate standards for the accreditation of undergraduate and graduate biofuels engineering programs.

Photo: Congressman Harry Teague visits with Vice President for Research Julia Fulghum.

It will also provide funding for biofuels engineering programs and biofuels engineering training centers. In addition, the bill will provide fellowships to undergrads and graduate students studying biofuels engineering and provide access to scientific research facilities.

UNM is involved in a number of National Science Foundation funded biofuels research efforts including the NSF Engineering Research Center, a partnership with other universities, and the Partnership for International Research which allows students to study at UNM and at universities in Europe.

UNM Professor of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Abaya Datye says, “Chemical engineers are poised to address the problem of biofuels as the U.S. transitions to an economy in which energy sources can be used much more efficiently.”

Professor of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Plamen Atanassov told Teague about UNM's work with companies under the NSF Industry/University Collaborative Research Center program as it relates to Department of Energy funding for the UNM Center for Emerging Energy Technologies.

The central theme is in finding paths to bridge ethanol (the most abundant current biofuel) with a hydrogen economy through direct ethanol fuel cell technology. UNM is also a leading institution on programs on biofuel cells funded by the Department of Defense. Those have a broader impact by providing means to utilize glycerol, a by-product of the biodiesel technology.

Steve Graves, associate director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering, says researchers in the center are beginning to look at the problems inherent in biomass. He believes they will be doing more plant involved work in the future. And Associate Professor of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Plamen Atanassov is working with a group that includes both university and industry researchers who are exploring ways to construct fuel cells that use biofuels to produce energy.

As part of his announcement, Teague toured UNM laboratory facilities and spoke with faculty members about their research activities. Teague’s proposed legislation is the “Biofuel Engineering Training Act.”

Media Contact: Karen Wentworth, (505) 277-5627; e-mail:

June 30, 2009 02:45 PM