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Chundawat and Hildebrandt Granted USDA/Sungrant Award

PI Shishir Chundawat will lead a team of researchers to develop integrated technologies for conversion of cellulosic biomass and biomass-derived CO2 to fuels/chemicals. The project was selected for funding by the Northeast SunGrant program at Pennsylvania State University and supported directly by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). For this project Chundawat will collaborate closely with co-PI Professor Diane Hildebrandt from Rutgers Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering and co-PI Dr. Karin Calvinho of RenewCO2, a Rutgers startup company. The team will develop and validate an innovative and integrated hybrid biocatalytic-electrocatalytic approach to enable sustainable lignocellulose bioconversion to biofuels using biocatalysts, alongside electrocatalytically converting fermentation-derived CO2 to valuable co-products. This pioneering approach to repurposing carbon is critical to advancing carbon-negative biofuel technology. Other external project participants include Cornelius Masuku from Purdue University and researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The $535k project cost includes $375k research grant from SunGrant/USDA with remainder in-kind and cost-share support from industry and university partners. The project will be completed over an eighteen-month period starting in Spring 2024.