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Engineering a Better Tomorrow

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January 23, 2013

Fanxing Li receives NSF CAREER Award

Dr. Li

Dr. Fanxing Li, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University, has received a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award, known as the NSF CAREER Award, is one of the highest honors given by NSF to young faculty in science and engineering.

The award will provide funding over five years to support Li’s project, “Bi-Functional Redox Materials with Facilitated Oxygen Transport for Catalytic Conditioning of Biomass-Derived Syngas.” The research is supported by NSF’s Energy for Sustainability Program in the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems.

The project aims to develop more effective redox catalysts for tar removal in biomass gasification, a process that converts biological material, or biomass, into synthesis gas, electricity or liquid fuels. Since tar removal is a key challenge for this process, developing a tar removal catalyst that also functions as an oxidant can contribute to more effective, robust and sustainable biomass conversion.

Li and his team will also encourage K-12 students’ interest in sustainable energy and science, technology, engineering and mathematics by developing an interactive educational module entitled “Engineering Our Way out of Global Warming.” The group also plans to launch an associated smartphone app through a collaboration with the NC State Department of Computer Science and Argonne National Laboratory.

Li received his BS and MS in chemical engineering at Tsinghua University in 2001 and 2004, respectively, and he received his PhD from Ohio State University in 2009. He joined the NC State faculty in 2011.


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