In 2009 the United States imported more than 9 million barrels of petroleum crude oil per day.* In today’s prices, that equates to nearly $340 billion per year, or more than 8 times the budget of the U.S. Department of Education in 2010.
Imagine the economic impact of acquiring a portion of these imports from domestic sources where the dollars are invested within our borders instead of in countries abroad and are used to pay the salaries of American men and women. And then those salaries are used to make purchases at local stores and restaurants in towns across the country supporting the wages of additional working men and women. How many jobs could be saved or even created?
But what if this new supply of domestic energy didn’t come from fossil fuels, but instead from renewable sources such as the grass beneath our feet and the sun above our heads? Imagine the environmental impact this could have in our lifetime and in our children’s lifetime.
The Center for Renewable and Alternative Fuel Technologies (CRAFT) at Eastern Kentucky University has a mission of creating a regional biofuels industry through the research and development of novel processes and technologies that utilize renewable energy sources. In December 2008, President Doug Whitlock’s vision of developing an interdisciplinary research program at EKU was realized through the establishment of CRAFT and has been cultivated through partnerships with public and private agencies. Initially funded by an appropriation from the Defense Logistics Agency within the Department of Defense, CRAFT has grown from a concept to a reality in a short period of time and recently opened a “state-of-the-art” research facility located at EKU’s main campus in Richmond, KY boasting two large laboratories for biomass and algae fuel-related research.
Bio fuels are expected to play an increasing role in this country’s strategies for reducing the reliance on petroleum-based fuels, and our continued reliance on foreign oil to meet this need poses a substantial security risk. But the challenge of extricating ourselves from the economic and security quagmire of foreign energy dependency will require the brightest of minds and an unshakeable resolve to pursue the goal of energy independence amidst opposition. CRAFT has assembled a team of research scientists from a variety of disciplines ranging from chemistry to economics and will utilize their groundbreaking research as opportunities for students to become engaged in and gain an insight into the rapidly growing field of renewable energy research.
If you should have any questions concerning CRAFT’s work or wish to discuss potential areas of collaboration, please contact me at (859) 622-7316 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Bruce Pratt, EKU CRAFT Director