A Clean Power and Energy Research Consortium (CPERC) was established in 2003, under the Louisiana Governor's Energy Initiative, to help address critical scientific issues in power and energy generation. Of specific interest are technologies that will permit greater efficiencies, greater reliability, lower emissions and the effective utilization of alternative fuels. Core expertise and well-established research programs in these areas already exists at seven universities in the state of Louisiana, and CPERC aims to bring these groups together to exert impact on clean power production at both state and national levels. In 2005, CPERC was named as the National Center of Excellence in the Energy Bill. 
CPERC consists of:

  • Turbine Innovation & Energy Research (TIER) Center at Louisiana State University
  • Audubon Sugar Institute (ASI) at LSU AgCenter.
  • Bio-Energy Laboratory (BEL) at Nicholls State University,
  • Advanced Materials Research Lab (AMRL) at Southern University,
  • Tulane Energy Institute (TEI) at Tulane University,
  • Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (BRL) at University of Louisiana at Lafayette,
  • Energy Conversion & Conservation Center (ECCC) at University of New Orleans.

Each Center/Laboratory has core research expertise in specific energy areas, and CPERC harnesses this expertise in a collaborative manner to establish a national center of excellence in clean energy with emphasis on the hydrogen and alternative fuel economy.

CPERC will deliver the following benefits to Louisiana:  (1) CPERC will be a national center of excellence and will provide a boost to ongoing research activities in power generation, emissions control, and biofuels production; (2) CPERC will lead the nation in the development of new technologies for the clean fuels industry with emphasis on clean power generation and utilization of renewable resources to lower energy costs, improve reliability, and reduce emissions and crude oil imports; and (3) CPERC will provide the state and its industrial base an educated and trained workforce in all aspects of energy and power generation. Louisiana is rich in fossilized and renewable resources, and thus has a vested interest in technologies that utilize these.

CPERC's goal is to develop technologies which will lead to a reduction of oil imports and fuel consumption by 10 percent. This would create an estimated savings in natural gas costs alone of more than $5 billion/per year and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of about 10 million metric tons nationwide. It is estimated that Louisiana would benefit from fuel cost savings of approximately $300 million a year.

CPERC will involve high-end technologies dealing with hydrogen-driven energy generation systems, micro-systems, materials, bio-energy, and environmental pollution, and is likely to lead to small-scale spin-off companies that will provide components, parts and services to the gas turbine, power generation, renewable fuel, petrochemical, and related industries.

For further information contact:

Dr. Ting Wang
CPERC Director

CERM 135
Lakeshore Drive 2045
New Orleans LA 70122

Phone: ( 504) 280-7183

Selected Projects

Technologies for reduced emissions from power plants & other combustors: Emissions of Nitric Oxides, Carbon Monoxide, and particulates from power plants and other combustion systems such as furnaces, boilers, incinerators, etc. have a significant detrimental effect on the environment and economy. LSU is developing technologies to lower emissions relative to current systems through burner redesign and/or aerodynamic control of the fuel-air streams. The figure shows a micro fuel injection swirler (MFIS) which can improve the combustion performance and reduce emissions.

Economic Impact: Reducing emissions in non-attainment areas and areas with heavy concentration of chemical and petro-chemical industries in Louisiana can have a significant economic impact exceeding $100 million/year.

Fuel Alcohol Production from Post-Harvest Sugarcane Residue: Research at Nicholls State University explores the possibilities of making alcohol from the sugarcane residue.  A chemical pre-treatment process using alkaline peroxide was applied to remove lignin, which acts as physical barrier to cellulolytic enzymes. The results indicate that ethanol can be made from the sugarcane residue.  The fermentation system needs to be optimized for evaluating the economics of producing ethanol from the sugarcane residue.  Production of hydrogen from sugarcane residue will be explored. 

Economic Impact:  The preliminary estimate on the economic impact as a result of the project is $ 25 to 50 million to the region of Southeast Louisiana.  This includes production of ethanol, job creation, and reduction of public health problems such as asthma and emphysema by eliminating open-air burning of sugarcane residue.

Butanol Production: Utilization of sugar mill wastes to produce butanol via a variety of microbial pathways. Tulane University is using an incremental approach to development of a commercially viable process from (eventually) cellulosic material.  The process for the manufacture of fuel-grade butanol from sugar mill waste material (or other readily available sources of biomass) is comprised of biological production of a butanol/water mixture and purification and separation of butanol from the reaction mass. Efforts to find microorganisms that will preferentially produce butanol include collecting ruminant feces and scrapings from cow bellies.

 Economic Impact: Being able to utilize Louisiana sugar mills year round to produce an alternative fuel such as butanol can have a huge economic impact on the order of billions of dollars per year.

Gasification of Coal, Biomass, and Petcoke: UNO has been conducting research in improving performance and reliability of gasifiers for producing clean synthetic gas using coal, petroleum cokes, refinery residues(asphalt, visbreaker tar, bottom residues), biomass, and municipal wastes.  Gasification employs incomplete combustion under carefully controlled conditions to produce synthetic gases consisting mainly of hydrogen and carbon-monoxide. The syngas can be used to produce power, liquid fuels, and various chemicals. The figure shows the computational simulated coal particle paths and temperature distribution in a two-stage entrained flow gasifier.

Economic Impact: Using alternative fuels can reduce the United States' dependence of foreign gas/oil imports. The estimated benefit is approximately $3-5 million per year
per plant.

Material Properties and Microstructural Characterization of High Temperature Materials:
Gas turbine engine developments call for materials able to withstand temperatures up to 1000oC at present and as high as 2000oC in the near future. Such materials are expected to be progressively lighter, stronger and resistant to degradation during use. Current engines make use of Ni-base superalloys whose performance and tolerance of high temperatures can be improved by reducing the grain size and introduction of strengthening ceramic components. Southern University at Baton Rouge is investigating materials properties, microstructures and process modifications to improve the resistance to various kinds of degradation and improvement in thermal and material properties.

Economic Impact:  Estimated up to $ 1-2 million per year per power plant.

Production of Renewable Fuels and Chemicals from Agricultural, Industrial, and Municipal Derived Feedstocks: US chemical and energy needs are humongous (~15 million barrels of crude oil daily). At the same time, feedstock costs represent a very large portion of total costs of chemicals and energy. UL Lafayette researchers are working on methods to produce chemical energy from wastes along with utilization of solar power.  These efforts include mass cultivation of algae and other microbes to produce lipids and alcohols using Louisiana resources, utilization of agricultural residues to produce energetic chemicals, and transformations of biomass into industrial chemicals.

Economic Impact: With further development the alternative energy industry in Louisiana could exceed one billion dollars.

Integration of Ethanol Production from Sugarcane Bagasse to Louisiana Sugar Mills: Biomass is an underutilized product of sugar production. Currently the bulk of this plant material is consumed to produce steam to operate sugar factories. Audubon Sugar Institute has been working under the auspices of the US Department of Energy to develop a practical process for the conversion (thermochemical or fermentation based) of bagasse to ethanol under the operating constraints of the existing sugar factory process.

Economic Impact:  Fuel production from biomass is a potential method for survival and expansion of Louisiana's  $600 million sugar industry.