NSF approves planning grant for Center for Advanced Research in Drying
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May 20, 2013
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URBANA - A National Science Foundation (NSF) planning grant will help establish the Center for Advanced Research in Drying (CARD), a joint program of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass.

"CARD will be devoted to research in drying moist, porous materials such as food and other agricultural products; forestry and paper products; chemical products; textiles; and biopharmaceuticals,” said Hao Feng, a U of I professor of food science and human nutrition and the Illinois site director.

According to Feng, the main focus of the research will be to develop products, processes, designs, and strategies to reduce energy usage and cost in these energy-intensive industries. Added benefits include improvements in product quality and enhancement of sustainable practices.

"In other words, CARD will help companies reduce their carbon footprint,” he said.

The grant was funded under NSF’s Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) program. I/UCRCs were developed to encourage collaboration between companies and universities in the development of novel processes and methods to solve grand challenges confronting our nation, said Irfan Ahmad, co-principal investigator of CARD and executive director of the U of I Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology.

“NSF provides seed funding to establish the center, and companies provide broader funding for industrially driven research projects. These projects are prioritized by an industry advisory board (IAB) comprising the member companies, and results are shared with all members,” Ahmad added.

Jamal Yagoobi of WPI’s Department of Mechanical Engineering will be the lead principal investigator/project director for CARD; Cosme Furlong-Vazquez will be the site co-director at WPI; and Hao Feng will be the site director at Illinois.

As the lead site for the program, WPI will host the initial meeting with both company and NSF representatives on Aug. 13-14. Faculty from the U of I College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and the U of I College of Engineering will participate. Two IAB meetings will be held each year.

Interested scientists and industry representatives are encouraged to register for the Aug. 13-14 meeting at http://www.dryingresearch.org.

“We look forward to building a great center that provides significant energy savings, improved product quality, and enhanced sustainability for member companies,” Yagoobi said.

Please contact any of the following CARD leaders to learn more about the program or register for the August meeting: Jamal Yagoobi, principal investigator and project director, jyagoobi@wpi.edu, 508-831-5759; Hao Feng, U of I site director, haofeng@illinois.edu, 217-244-2571; Mark Lippi, program coordinator, mlippi@illinois.edu, 217-300-2151; Cosme Vasquez-Furlong, WPI co-site director, cfurlong@wpi.edu, 508-831-5126, and Irfan Ahmad, co-principal investigator and innovation director, isahmad@illinois.edu, 217-333-2015.