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   from the issue of March 23, 2006

Energy research partners UNL scientists with public power

Officials from the Nebraska Public Power District and UNL announced March 11 a partnership to form the Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research.

The NPPD Board of Directors voted to approve funding for the Center during its regular monthly meeting. NPPD plans to provide a total of $5 million during the next five years to support various research initiatives.

The proposed Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research will fund research projects aimed at developing domestic energy resources and improving energy efficiency. Collaborative projects among UNL researchers and other public and private organizations working in energy areas will be supported.

"We realize that energy sources are finite, and this strategic partnership with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will help address the diversity needed to produce power for future generations of Nebraskans," said Ron Asche, NPPD president and CEO.

The mission of the Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research is to conduct research that results in new technologies and processes that will develop domestic energy sources, increase energy efficiency, and improve the quality of life and economic opportunities for Nebraskans.

A UNL faculty member will serve as the center director. An advisory board of NPPD and UNL administrators will set strategic directions for the center, establish research priorities and advise on selection of research projects.

"We are excited about partnering with NPPD to advance Nebraska's development of domestic energy sources and energy efficient technologies," said UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman. "As the state's major research institution, our faculty have innovative energy projects under way, and NPPD's foresight in providing support for this work will position us to participate in national initiatives and to build economic growth in Nebraska."

The center will fund existing research projects with the potential to rapidly produce novel technologies, new projects in promising research areas, and infrastructure to support research.

Initial areas of research could include advanced technologies for generation efficiency improvements, water and energy use, energy efficiency and conservation, carbon and nitrogen sequestration, biomass and bio-refineries, wind energy, fuel cells, and highly efficient batteries for electric vehicles. UNL researchers currently are working in these and other energy-related areas.

The goal of the center is to become self-sustaining by attracting additional funding from state and federal agencies, other companies and foundations.

"The proposed center aligns perfectly with our efforts over the past year to build collaborations among our energy-related researchers and to produce technologies and inventions that will benefit Nebraska," said Prem Paul, UNL vice chancellor for research. "The Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research will enable us to efficiently draw on our expertise that ranges from engineering to agronomy to chemistry, and produce new solutions to energy challenges."



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