Tri-Cities student selected for sustainable energy program

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

Lei-Zhu-webRICHLAND, Wash. – Lei Zhu, a doctoral student at Washington State University Tri-Cities, is one of 33 United States-based students to be selected for the June 17-24 American Chemical Society Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy.

He will explore scientific solutions to the global challenges of sustainable energy through presentations by leading researchers, collaborative projects and discussions.

Lei Zhu in the lab at WSU Tri-Cities.

Zhu works under the guidance of Hanwu Lei, associate professor and scientist for the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at WSU, to find an ideal and less expensive catalyst for bio-oil using a process called microwave-assisted pyrolysis. The process is the first step toward creating less expensive renewable jet fuel.

Raw bio-oils made from the pyrolysis process are relatively acidic, contain a large amount of oxygen and have a low heating value, all of which require further upgrading prior to use in combustion engines. Zhu said he hopes to identify an ideal catalyst that will improve the quality, efficiency and overall cost of the biofuel produced from the pyrolysis process.

“I think it is very promising,” he said of the green energy field. “Utilization of biomass as an alternative fuel source is renewable and environmentally safe.”

The ACS summer program was open to graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the United States, Canada and Latin America. Sixty students will attend.


Lei Zhu, WSU Tri-Cities doctoral student, 509-372-7623,
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations, 509-372-7333,