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Topic of the Day: Alternative Fuels

Alternative Fuels Center of Excellence to be Launched

Introducing new center on Oct. 14 at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology highlights day of alternative fuels related events

(October 6, 2010)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( – UC Riverside’s College of Engineering - Center for Environmental Research and Technology is hosting a series of free events Oct. 14 to highlight the future of renewable energy and serve as a launchpad for its new Alternative Transportation Fuels Research Center of Excellence.

A $1.2 million grant from the California Energy Commission will allow the center of excellence to work on characterizing the emissions and performance of new alternative fuels and ensuring fuels will not have adverse health or environmental impacts.

The center is being established at a time of increasing state and federal emphasis on the expanded use of alternative fuels to reduce dependence on petroleum, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and maintain progress toward healthy air quality.

“We are leaders in characterizing vehicle emissions and the consequences of those emissions,” said Tom Durbin, a research engineer at CE-CERT. “The establishment of this center and this grant allow us to continue and expand that work.”

The Oct. 14 events kick-off at 10 a.m. Oct. 14 with a National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day mini-workshop aimed at providing a basic understanding of alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles. The event is one of about 125 nationwide being coordinated by the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium at West Virginia University.

The workshop, which runs until 12:30 p.m., will feature representatives from CE-CERT; the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Strategic Energy, Environmental and Transportation Alternatives, a non-profit based in Yorba Linda; the Desert Energy Enterprise Center at the College of the Desert; and Farming Biodiesel Inc. in Desert Center.

Following the workshop, from 12:30 to 2 p.m., attendees will be able to view a collection of alternative fuels vehicles in the CE-CERT parking lot.

At 2 p.m., the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Draft Biofuels Strategic Production Report, which proposes the biofuels industry as a comprehensive regional strategy to help recharge the rural American economy, will be outlined for public comment. Topics to be discussed include potential sources of feedstock, the current local infrastructure to support biofuels, and the estimated land use needed in California for biofuels.

In additional, input is sought on how state and/or federal government agencies can better partner with the private sector to increase demand for biofuels, and suggestions on how government agencies can assist with infrastructure improvements in the private sector.

CE-CERT is a longtime leader in studying vehicle emissions. A team of eight researchers using state-of-the-art testing facilities and equipment have helped lay the groundwork for state and federal fuel guidelines.

The $1.2 million received in August from the California Energy Commission will broaden and further develop CE-CERT’s research in this area. Researchers at CE-CERT expect to use the money to study butanol, butanol/ethanol combination, and other mixed fuel combinations. They also want to learn and how these fuels impact vehicle performance and emissions and understand their compatibility with different engine technologies, Durbin said.

On the state level, the California Air Resources Board has a goal of reducing the carbon intensity in the state’s transportation fuels by 10 percent by 2020. That would include using higher levels of ethanol, biodiesel and other renewable fuels.

On the federal level, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires the use of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022.

The Oct. 14 events are free and open to the public. Parking is also free. However, reservations are required. They can be made by contacting Jim Dexter at 951-781-5682 or

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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