Energy Center


Cummins Super Truck program

Purdue University is engaged with Cummins Inc. in a Department of Energy Super Truck program designed to improve heavy duty vehicle freight efficiency by 50 percent (ton-miles per gallon). Trucks and buses consume nearly 25 percent of petroleum used in surface transportation and Class 8 line haul trucks consume over two-thirds of fuel consumed by truck classes in the US. Essential elements of technology development include significant improvements in heavy duty engine efficiency and aerodynamic drag and reduction in auxiliary loads.

Contact Gregory Shaver, Mechanical Engineering,, 765-494-9342


Differentially Pumped Dual Linear Quadrupole Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer

Owen BC, Kenttämaa HI, Patent Application #61/537,949; Filing Date 9/22/2011.

In collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific, C3Bio has developed a unique mass spectrometry system to provide structural information for molecules directly in complex mixtures, such as biomass degradation products that can consist of thousands of unknown compounds. Previous instruments used for this type of research, such as dual-cell FT-ICR mass spectrometers, are obsolete, expensive to maintain, need highly-trained operators and lack the required sensitivity and dynamic range. Identification of previously unknown compounds often requires several different types of reactions in sequence, but commercial mass spectrometers are not configured to allow sequential reactions. Thus, we combined two commercial linear quadrupole ion trap (LQIT) mass spectrometers within a differentially pumped vacuum chamber to allow for the isolation of ionized compounds from the mixture in one mass spectrometer followed by the examination of their reaction products in the first as well as the second mass spectrometer, the latter being free of all unwanted chemicals. This differentially-pumped dual linear quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometer (named TWIN) is the most versatile tandem mass spectrometer to date.

C3Bio developed the tandem MS concept and fabricated the vacuum connection piece (in Purdue’s Jonathan Amy Facility for Chemical Instrumentation) between two Thermo Fisher Scientific LQIT mass spectrometers. Thermo provided the connector design and developed the software to interface the two machines. Pending further testing, Thermo may commercialize a variant of the TWIN instrument for the life sciences and analytical chemistry market. Thermo Fisher Scientific has contributed more than $1.5M in new and reduced price equipment to the C3Bio project since 2010.
Contact: Hilka Kenttämaa, Department of Chemistry,, 765-494-0882


Green Tech America

Green Tech America (GTA) is focused on the development and commercialization of an innovative, yeast-based cellulosic ethanol technology pioneered by Prof. Nancy Ho. Based upon this technology, GTA will expand into several growth areas: marketing the Ho-Purdue yeast for cellulosic ethanol production, cellulosic ethanol production by GTA, generation and marketing of innovative new co-products produced simultaneously with cellulosic ethanol production, development of other yeast-based products and development of new renewable energy and chemicals from CO2. In addition, GTA will provide technical assistance to cellulosic ethanol producers and collaborate with ethanol and cellulosic ethanol producers to produce and market additional co-products using GTA’s new cellulosic ethanol yeast derived from the Ho-Purdue Yeast.

Contact: Nancy Ho, Chemical Engineering,, 765-588-3834,


John Zink Company scholarships

Purdue University’s Energy Center and the John Zink Company are collaborating on three $5,000 interdisciplinary graduate research fellowships focusing on combustion. Based in Tulsa, the international company operates three separate test facilities, to create one of the combustion industry’s largest research and development operations. Its emissions-control and clean-air technologies are used in industries such as hydrocarbon and chemical processing, biofuels, automobile manufacturing, food processing, pulp and paper, and waste management.

Contact Pankaj Sharma, Energy Center, Discovery Park,, 765-496-7452


High-efficiency heat pump research

In regions with frequent subzero temperatures, heat pumps need supplemental systems to keep pace with home energy needs. Those backups are expensive to operate, but a new technology on the horizon may reduce their operating costs in the future, thanks to a partnership between Purdue University, Emerson and Carrier. With $1.3 million in funding from the Department of Energy, James Braun, Eckhard Groll and Travis Horton are striving to improve the coefficient of heat pump performance by 50 percent in cold climates, such as that found in Minnesota. The project, which builds on previous work that began around five years ago at Purdue’s Herrick Laboratories, involves two different methods to improve the compression process using single-stage scroll compression technology.

Contact James Braun, Mechanical Engineering,, 765-494-9157


Network for Photovoltaic Technology

Purdue University is leading a new research center to improve photovoltaic solar cells as part of a national effort to bring alternative energy technologies to the marketplace. The Network for Photovoltaic Technology is led by Ashraf Alam, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Mark Lundstrom, the Don and Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The work, which is being funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation, addresses performance, cost, reliability and manufacturing challenges of photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. Participating Industry leaders include ABB, Applied Materials, Bosch, First Solar, IBM and Tokyo Electron.

Contact Mark Lundstrom, Electrical and Computer Engineering,, 765-494-3515


Purdue Energy Camp

Purdue University proposes to engage students and their teachers with the energy grand challenges and help them envision future opportunities in this critical sector of our national economy. Students and teachers will learn about STEM disciplines through their application in the fields of energy research, energy development and deployment, the impact of changing environmental regulations, and logistical challenges associated with introducing new alternative sources of energy to the marketplace.  In taking on this leadership role, Purdue aims to start this effort, first in Indiana and the Midwest, then continue on to a program with national and possibly global reach.  The inaugural Purdue Energy Camp (PEC) 2012 was held from June 10-16. Twenty high school students (grades 11/12) and sixteen middle/high school teachers in STEM disciplines were recruited from 28 schools. The Duke Energy Foundation was the founding corporate sponsor. Other sponsors included: Goldwind, Green Tech America, the Indiana Center for Coal Technology Research, and the Purdue Energy Center, Discovery Park.

Contact Pankaj Sharma, Energy Center, Discovery Park,, 765-496-7452


Shell Energy Day

The Purdue Energy Center has closely worked closely with the Shell Oil Company technical and recruitment teams to organize a full day event every fall semester. The panel discussion topics are chosen with mutual consultation. The themes have been ‘Biomass to biofuel’, ‘oil and natural gas exploration’, ‘renewables and fracking/Keystone pipeline’. In addition to presentation, a poster session along with a career presentation is hosted for students.

Contact: Pankaj Sharma, Energy Center, Discovery Park,, 765-496-7452

About the Energy Center

The Center’s mission is to grow the Purdue energy research and education enterprise. We engage researchers and students in a community that delivers new discoveries and develops disruptive technologies with national and global impact.


Maureen McCann

Director, Energy Center,
Global Sustainability Institute

Pankaj Sharma

Managing Director, Energy Center,
Global Sustainability Institute

Mann Hall, Rm 105
203 South Martin Jischke Dr.
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1971