Zhang said the research theme is called Environment-Enhancing Energy, or E² Energy, because it is an effort to meet the challenge of energy production in a way that is both economically viable and environmentally sustainable.

"This synergistic process is extremely advantageous," Zhang said, "because it brings together two rivals, energy production and environmental protection, to complement rather than compete with one another."

Ultimately, Schideman said they hope the laboratory at the SRC will become a cutting-edge facility for applied research and education on novel processes that convert agricultural residuals into valuable bioenergy and biochemical resources, while also providing significant environmental benefits. "Right now we are developing strategic partnerships with stakeholders including producers, equipment manufacturers, academics, extension specialists and co-product end users, to maximize the impact of this new research and extension facility," said Schideman.

Schideman and Zhang are co-PIs on a grant sponsored by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center for characterizing water quality impacts of algal wastewater treatment combined with hydrothermal liquefaction. Additionally, Schideman has received a Focal Point grant from the UIUC graduate college for building interdisciplinary research capabilities in algal biomass and bio-products.

For more information, please visit Environment Enhancing Energy at http://www.e2-energy.illinois.edu/, or UIUC Illini Algae at http://algae.illinois.edu/.