Arun Raju

U.C. Riverside researcher Arun Raju was among three academics at the university to receive National Innovation Awards at the recent TechConnect annual convention. The Indian American is director of the Center for Renewable Natural Gas. (ucr.edu photo)

Arun Raju, an Indian American researcher at the University of California Riverside, was among three individuals at the university to have invented two separate technologies, earning a National Innovation Award.

The university said in a July 2 news release that Raju, as well as Chan Park and Alexander Balandin, received the awards at the annual TechConnect convention in Anaheim, Calif.

TechConnect is a global technology outreach organization dedicated to locating the world’s most promising intellectual property and startup companies across all industries and technology focus areas, the release said.

The TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo connects top applied research and early stage innovations from universities, labs, and startups with industry end-users and prospectors, it said.

The TechConnect Innovation Awards identify the top 15 percent of submitted technologies as ranked by the TechConnect Corporate & Investment Partner Committee, whose members come from many major corporations and venture capital firms, according to the release.

Innovations are submitted from global academic technology transfer offices, early stage companies, small business innovative research awardees, and government and corporate research laboratories, it said.

Winners are chosen based on the potential positive impact the technologies will have on their respective industries. TechConnect will track the commercialization efforts of the awardees, encourage continued funding, and assist in bringing these technologies to market, the release added.

Raju and Park, researchers at UCR’s Center for Renewable Gas, a division of the Center for Environmental Research, developed a steam hydrogasification system that uses high pressure and heat to break down plant waste, known as biomass, into renewable natural gas, which can then be converted into liquid fuel or electricity.

Conventional gasification involves subjecting the dried material to high temperatures without allowing it to burn by controlling the amount of oxygen or steam in order to reduce it to a gas, the university noted.

The new method allows wet biomass to be processed without an expensive drying step. The invention offers more efficient and cost-effective production of renewable natural gas converted from waste that could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Raju is currently director of the Center for Renewable Natural Gas. He has a doctorate in chemical engineering from U.C. Riverside with a focus on gasification and related processes.

He has experience in research related to synthetic fuels and chemicals production, and power generation via thermochemical pathways, including waste to energy processes, according to his university bio.

Before joining CE-CERT, Raju was the director of research at Viresco Energy LLC and later served as the director of technology development at Combustion Associates Inc.

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