L.-S. Fan receives 2014 R&D 100 Award

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Called the "Oscars of Invention," the R&D 100 Awards recognize and celebrate the top 100 technology products of the year. Past winners from industry, academia, and government-sponsored research have included the inventors of sophisticated testing equipment, innovative new materials, chemistry breakthroughs, biomedical products, consumer items, and high-energy physics.

And now, L.-S. Fan's work on high-efficiency calcium looping technology (HECLOT) has been added to the list: on November 7, 2014, Fan and his collaborators at Taiwan's ITRI (the Industrial Technology Research Institute) will be recognized for developing one of the 100 most innovative technologies introduced in 2013! 

The technology that Fan and ITRI developed, which was successfully demonstrated at a large demonstration-scale system in Taiwan, uses lime (calcium oxide) to capture carbon dioxide in the flue gas stream generated from coal combustion such as that found in power plants. The captured carbon dioxide is then used to grow algae which is extracted for oil and also produces biomass. The deactivated/spent calcium oxide from this technology is used as the feedstock/key ingredient for cement production. Lime comes from calcination of limestone, which is abundant. As such, high-efficiency calcium looping technology offers multiple and concurrent, environmentally-friendly efficiencies that could also help control pollutants in a cost-effective manner. 

The R&D 100 Awards were established in 1963 and were originally called the I-R 100s in keeping with the name of the magazine, Industrial Research. The deep history of the awards program has meant that many of what were once cutting-edge technologies such as the flashcube (1965) and the fax machine (1975) are now antiquated devices without a lot of use today. But many innovations, from halogen lamps (1974) to HDTV (1998) seem to have considerable staying power.

Of course, these are just the consumer-level products. More recent breakthroughs that have earned R&D 100 Awards include next-generation magnetic resonance imaging machines, laser-based metal-forming tools, and the building blocks for fusion experiments. 

L.-S. Fan is the C. John Easton Professor in Engineering and also holds the titles of distinguished university professor and professor chemical Engineering in the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has won numerous other awards and recognition for his work.

For a full list of R&D 100 winners, visit the R&D 100 website

 

Fan's pilot project to scale up coal-direct chemical looping for commercial applications continues to make progress.

 

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