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Algae research facility at Easter Kentucky univ Posted by Jacintha on Mon November 01 2010 02:31:46 PM 2

 A new research facility at Eastern Kentucky University could help the state become a national leader in alternative fuel technology, according to Sixth District Congressman Ben Chandler.
Chandler was the keynote speaker Thursday at an official opening ceremony for the university's Center for Renewable and Alternative Fuel Technologies (CRAFT) facility, which is located across from Alumni Coliseum, next to EKU's Department of Agriculture.
The new facility features two large laboratories for biomass analysis and algae research, as well as a smaller lab for algae incubation and microbiology research. It also includes administrative offices and office space for researchers.
CRAFT incorporates the research of 10 research faculty, three full-time research assistants, four graduate assistants and as many as 12 undergraduate students from fields such as agriculture, biology, chemistry and economics.
One of CRAF's main focuses is the cellulosic-derived biofuel initiative, which converts biomass, such as switchgrass, into usable transportation fuels.
Sugars from the biomass can be fed to specialized algae that produce large quantities of oil for conversion to biodiesel and jet fuel.

All of us wake up in a country that depends on cheap oil from foreign countries that are located in regions of the world that can only be described as unstable, Chandler said. 
The $4-a-gallon gas prices we saw in 2008 could become the norm. Research being done here at Eastern could become critical to our nation?s security.
EKU and CRAFT are at the forefront of groundbreaking research that will allow Kentucky to prosper as a leader, he said.
We can create thousands of new jobs right here in Kentucky and those will be jobs that cannot be exported, Chandler said.
The CRAFT facility is a symbol of EKU?s devotion to the development of alternative energy, said Harry Moberly, EKU executive vice president for administration.
This effort we're making to make ourselves energy independent is of paramount importance to our country, Moberly said.   
EKU wants to be part of that opportunity. We recognize that is what the future is going to be about if we're going to be successful in creating jobs.
Kentucky's rich agriculture gives the state an advantage when it comes to developing alternative energy, said Rep. Rocky Adkins, 99th District.
We are an agriculture state and a coal state, he said. I think it is unbelievable what this field of energy can do for us.
Kentucky can use these advantages to attract energy companies while at the same time reduce dependency on foreign oil.
It is not acceptable for our U.S. military to be the single biggest user of foreign oil in the world, he said. We can do better, and today is proof of that. We can make sure that from this, we can grow a strong economy.
Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@
richmondregister.com or 624-6608.