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Purdue energy pioneer to receive medal from President Obama

by Dale Kiefer 28 Sep 2011
Purdue energy pioneer to receive medal from President Obama

Dr. Rakesh Agrawal, a distinguished professor of chemical engineering at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, has been chosen to receive the prestigious National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama, in recognition of Agrawal's contributions to sustainable energy technologies. The medal will be presented during a White House ceremony, later this year.

Announced on Tuesday, Sept. 27, the award recognizes professor Agrawal's work in energy-related areas involving the conversion of biomass to liquid fuels, processes related to low-cost solar cells, and energy systems analysis, among other achievements.

"Dr. Agrawal is well-deserving of this stupendous honor," said Leah H. Jamieson, the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering. "He is not only leading research in his field but also helping to educate a new generation of chemical engineers."

Professor Agrawal received his doctorate in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980, and came to Purdue in 2004, following a career in private industry. "Rakesh Agrawal has dedicated his career to areas of energy research critical for industry and society," said Purdue President France A. Cordova. "He has risen to an exceptional level of achievement. The national medals are the highest awards given in the United States for scientific and technological innovation."

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created the same year Dr. Agrawal received his doctorate, and is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Patent and Trademark Office. "I am very appreciative to President Obama for this high recognition," Agrawal said.

One area of focus for Dr. Agrawal has been solving the formidable technical challenges associated with developing practical hydrogen fuel cells for use in automobiles. Another has been the practical production of biofuels - liquid fuels made from sustainably obtained biomass such as plant wastes from agriculture or forests.


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