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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Groundbreaking scheduled Nov. 13 for one-of-a-kind research building

Renewable Energy Research, Technology Center

Breaking ground for one-of-a-kind renewable energy center.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office news release [11/11/2009]

Ground will be broken on Friday, Nov. 13, for a one-of-a-kind renewable energy research center on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The $1.8-million, 6,300-square-foot Center for Renewable Energy Research and Technology Transfer will be constructed on the northwest corner of the campus, near Wiecking Center. The groundbreaking ceremony will start at 9 a.m. at the intersection of Malin Street and Porter Avenue, with legislators, Minnesota State Mankato President Richard Davenport and other administrators participating.

Within the center, 4,800 square feet will be allocated to an emissions laboratory, and 1,500 square feet will be allocated for the International Renewable Energy Technology Institute (IRETI).

“This new research, testing and technology facility is a cutting-edge addition to Minnesota’s alternative energy industry,” said Minnesota State Mankato President Richard Davenport. “It will stimulate growth and development in bio-fuels and related fields, and it will keep the state at the top of the list of green energy innovators. We are grateful to the Minnesota Legislature, the federal government and the private donors for making this new building possible.”

The center is expected to be completed sometime in mid-2010. It is funded through federal, state and private sources, including the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Minnesota Department of Economic Employment Development, the Department of Energy, the Minnesota Corn Growers, Fagen, Inc., AgStar Financial and other partners. Gift-in-kind support with state-of-the-art equipment is being provided by California Analytical Instruments and Environmental Testing Corporation.

The center will be designed to test emissions and efficiency for fuels for engines as well as building heating units. Once the structure is completed, both labs will seek national test and measures and EPA certification.

The center’s emissions laboratory will be the only research facility in the Upper Midwest capable of conducting biodiesel, ethanol, hybrid and other bio-fuel engines tests according to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

The IRETI laboratory will function as a test center to support technology transfer for combustible solid fuel and biogas. Its role is especially significant because it will deal with building heating units – a major source of energy consumption. (Heating and cooling of buildings consumes about 40 percent of U.S. energy.)

The International Renewable Energy Technology Institute focuses on commercialization of products through its public-private partnerships. Minnesota was awarded the institute two years ago, and funding was approved during the 2009 legislative session. Since then the institute has brought international attention to Minnesota State Mankato’s renewable energy efforts.

The emissions laboratory is expected to pave the way for greater public and private use of alternative fuels. The lab should speed the process for automakers to meet higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards by 2016, and should help public agencies and private companies acquire more fuel-efficient vehicles for their fleets.

The lab’s testing equipment will measure exhaust and evaporative emissions from biodiesel, ethanol and methane-powered engines of all sizes, as well as emissions from electric hybrid vehicles and hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells. It also will produce certifiable data that business and industry can use to improve the efficiency of bio-fuels engines.

The IRETI laboratory will work globally, starting with Sweden because of its renewable energy leadership. The laboratory’s major focus will be to work with Swedish and U.S. companies and entrepreneurs to certify alternative-energy heating technology for the U.S. market.

In addition to research, IRETI's goal is to provide technology transfer that will move new products toward commercialization, increasing the manufacture of products in Minnesota. The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota has been a strong supporting partner in the development of IRETI in Minnesota.

The new center also will allow automotive engineering technology students and other engineering and science students to do top-level “green” energy research with faculty members in all elements of renewable energy.

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive, doctoral university with 14,950 students and two satellite sites, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, which comprises 32 institutions across the state.

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