Ingram to Receive SURA Distinguished Scientist Award

Lonnie Ingram fine-tunes a gasket in the UF cellulosic ethanol test facility on the UF campus
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In certain parts of the Southern United States, it’s almost impossible to leave your house without running into what oil men have dubbed “nodding donkeys.” Growing in number, these fly-wheel-driven oil pumps are on a lonely mission to endlessly peck petroleum from the earth.

But someday soon, nodding donkeys might become an endangered species – thanks, in part, to the work of University of Florida alternative fuels researcher Lonnie Ingram. On Monday, April 7, the Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) will present Ingram with the 2008 SURA Distinguished Scientist Award for his work developing ways to turn materials commonly considered trash into fuel that could cut the country’s dependence on oil.

SURA is a consortium of more than 60 universities across the United States that promotes initiatives in alternative energy sources, information technologies, coastal research and technology commercialization. It also operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Dr. Ingram brings distinction to his institution and his state, and SURA honors him for the regional and national contribution he makes as a model researcher and leader in bioenergy,” said P. Geoffrey Feiss, Provost at the College of William & Mary and Chair of the SURA Board of Trustees, in a prepared statement. “He clearly is a dedicated teacher, a talented entrepreneur and a disciplined researcher in the field of microbiology and renewable energy.”

Ingram, a distinguished professor at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and the director of the Florida Center for Renewable Chemicals and Fuels, is best known for developing a technique to convert the woody material from plants into ethanol that can be substituted for gasoline and other fuels.

The effects of his work are already being seen. Small-scale ethanol plants based on his technology are under development in South Florida and Louisiana. Meanwhile a plant in Osaka, Japan, is using the technique to convert wood from demolished buildings into fuel.

“Automotive fuel from renewable plant biomass offers the potential to reduce our dependence on imported petroleum, create employment, and improve the environment,” Ingram said. “Making this a reality is a challenging goal that will require the combined efforts of dedicated scientists, engineers and the business community.”

Ingram’s efforts earned him a place in the National Academy of Sciences in 2001, as well as the ear of the President of the United States and Florida’s governor. He was recently appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to serve on Florida’s Climate Change and Renewable Energy Action Team.

This award will be presented Monday night at the SURA Board of Trustees meeting at Hampton University in Hampton, Va. Ingram was selected from 63 other nominees.

Winfred Phillips, UF Vice President for Research, wrote in his nomination of Ingram, “His outstanding record of achievement in academia has always been anchored in his belief that the best academic science can lead to solutions for our society’s problems.

“Very few scientists reach his level of achievement in their careers both with regard to milestones such as a high number of publications, but also with regard to real-world applications of the knowledge gained in his lab,” he said.

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Posted: April 7, 2008


Category: AGRICULTURE
Tags: Ethanol, Lonnie Ingram


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