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Energy council formed; initial focus on research, industry

The KU Energy Council, a recently formed collaboration of energy-related research units on the Lawrence campus, will make its official launch with a conference from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Adams Alumni Center. The theme of the conference is "Energy, Innovation and the Kansas Economy."

The primary focus of the conference - biofuels - will be addressed from four angles: research, development, trends in innovation and the future growth of the industry. Presenters will include state and federal officials, as well as KU leaders in all areas of energy-related research. The event is free and open to the public.

The federal vision of the future of energy research and how it will affect industry will be presented by Valri Lightner of the Department of Energy Biomass Program; William Hagy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's deputy administrator for rural development; and Bob Noun of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

State perspectives on how energy research will affect Kansas will be offered by Adrian Polansky, secretary of agriculture; Bret Healy, director of bioenergy for the Kansas Bioscience Authority; and Doug Rivers, vice president of research development for ICM, a bioenergy company headquartered in Colwich.

Laurence Weatherley, chair of the KU Energy Council, will be joined on a discussion panel by Bob Honea, director of the KU Transportation Research Institute, and Bala Subramaniam, director of the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis. The panel will present the KU perspective on energy research, specifics about biofuels research efforts at KU and collaboration with industry. "This first conference is designed specifically for Kansas companies, university researchers, government agencies and elected officials," Weatherly said. "All of us have a common interest: advancing the energy industry via research and development and innovation."

The conference is unique, he added, in that the topics provide an opportunity to better understand national research and development initiatives and how they can translate into innovation in the energy industry and growth in the Kansas economy. For more information about the conference and the council, or to RSVP, visit www.kuenergycouncil.ku.edu.

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