Award supports Virginia Tech research to reduce vehicle emissions, create biofuel

Blacksburg, Va. -- Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) has selected Virginia Tech researchers who are working on energy and environmental issues as two of only 25 recipients to receive the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award.

Montasir Abbas, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, has developed and implemented successful traffic signal optimization programs to reduce delay and vehicle stops. The award will now allow him to create models to enhance these programs so even more efficient traffic signal timing will minimize vehicle emissions. Y. H. Percival Zhang, assistant professor of biological systems engineering, has already earned patents for improved ethanol production processes. This award supports his work to understand and make the best use of the enzymes that work together in the hydrolysis of cellulose -- that is, to breakdown tough plant material into soluble compounds that are ultimately converted into biofuel and other products.

The Powe awards provides $5,000 from ORAU matched by the university to faculty members in their first two years of their tenure track as an investment in promising achievements in an important area. John C. Nemeth, ORAU vice president of partnership development, told the recipients that the award recognizes the quality and promise of their research.

The competition permits only two applications from each of ORAU's 115 university members. "This is the second year in a row that both our faculty members have been selected," said Jim Blair, associate vice president for research at Virginia Tech. "We are proud of this achievement."

Red light, green light

Traffic signals are intended to keep traffic moving and increase safety. Inefficient traffic signals cause delay, increase fuel consumption, and increase pollution. Many signal optimization programs address delay and stops, but vehicle emissions has received little emphasis. "Most signal optimizati

Contact: Susan Trulove
Virginia Tech

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