Board to vote on energy research center

The EIU Board of Trustees will vote to approve the Center for Clean Energy Research and Education on Friday.

The center will be incorporated into the Renewable Energy Center. It will be funded largely internally along with the support from the community, such as the Charleston Area Charitable Foundation.

Peter Ping Liu, a technology professor and Robert Chesnut, director of research and sponsored programs, developed the plan for the center.

The Charleston Area Charitable Foundation has given their financial support to Eastern in the amount of $56,500, Liu said.

An advisory board whose members will include faculty and administrators from participating colleges and departments, staff from Facilities Planning and Management and possibly some representatives will administer the center from area alternative fuel processors and suppliers, according to a report submitted to the Board of Trustees.

The coming Renewable Energy Center has caught a lot of attention on and off campus. The center will provide Eastern with the opportunity to be self-sustaining, providing its own power source.

This center will provide students and faculty the opportunity to learn and research clean energy and explore new possibilities in that field, Liu said.

“I think the main benefit is for the students,” he added. “This is the perfect opportunity for our students to be engaged in studying energy.”

The center will also support economic development in East Central Illinois by conducting research that may provide area farmers with new markets for agricultural products and byproducts such as corn stover, according to the board report.

Both centers are unique, as will be the role they play in facilitating the research and interaction with faculty and students on campus, Liu said.

Chesnut said both faculty and students would benefit from the center.

“There will be people from different departments who didn’t used to talk who will (talk) now, making learning more cross-disciplinary,” he added.

Chesnut hopes that with the board approval, this center will become an important part of Eastern.

“The Renewable Energy Center is a building and some equipment, but it is also an idea,” Chesnut said.

Mel Boydston can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].