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In an era of limited resources, environmental concerns and extreme poverty in many parts of the world, renewable energy development has become a necessity not just in the USA but around the world. Eastern Illinois University continues to be a leader in sustainability research and specifically work with biomass as energy. Wei Wang and Chengdong Hu, Chinese international students at EIU, are both in engaged with biomass research that could change the way energy is produced both here and in China.
Wei, a graduate student in Technology, is currently working with Dr. Peter Ping Liu and Dr. Jerry Cloward to compare the energy conversion efficiency from burning different biomass. According to Wei, higher conversion efficiency fuels could be identified through comparison, thus providing more alternatives for renewable energy resources and gradually replacing the burning of fossil fuels. “China is the biggest consumer of fossil fuels in the world. If we can turn crop waste (one sort of biomass) into something valuable, the potential for energy production is unlimited.”
Chengdong, a senior Applied Engineering and Technology student, is working on similar research with Dr. Cloward which tests the heat value of material to create efficient energy pellets.
“I never expected to have the opportunity to do this kind of research as an undergraduate student. Professors are very willing to work with us and I even get to work with brand new equipment.”
Both Chengdong and Wei came to EIU through a relationship EIU has developed with Zhijiang College, in Hangzhou, China. Chengdong is in his last year of a 2+2 agreement through which students study two years at Zhijiang and two years at EIU.
Chengdong plans to continue his education at EIU by applying to graduate school and continuing the research.“Professors give more attention and opportunities to students at EIU than in China or at larger schools in the US." Wei plans on gaining work experience in the US post-graduation before ultimately returning to China.
“My hope is that this type of technology will continue to be developed through China’s sustainability policy. With so much smoke and pollution, more innovative techniques are necessary.”