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Burt Davis Receives Accolades and Grants

CAER's Fischer-Tropsch Expert

Burt Davis, Mark Dry
Burt Davis with Mark Dry

  • Last year when the CAER held its 30th anniversary celebrations, one of the first researchers in the door back in 1977 couldn't attend because he was at an arguably even more prestigious event: SASOL R & D's 50th Anniversary in South Africa. Davis's credibility as an expert in Fischer-Tropsch (FT) chemistry was solidified by an organization such as SASOL asking him to speak at their own commemorations. From their newsletter, "Prof. Burt Davis from the University of Kentucky had the room captivated when he shared an outsider's view of R&D. It was such a privilege to be addressed by a person of his stature."
  • While in this country, he learned of more recent accolades in the form of a large grant. The U.S. Dept. of Energy recently announced funding for Fischer-Tropsch research converting biomass-derived syngas, as well as syngas derived from coal and biomass mixtures to the University of Kentucky. The DOE's share of the project is $1,135,746; UK's share is $285,850. The project duration is three years. In addition, the group received a subcontract ($380,000) from TDA Research to study the effects of coal and biomass contaminants on the performance and life of WGS and FT catalysts.

Burt Davis and Gary Jacobs
Burt Davis and Gary Jacobs

  • Davis (and researcher Gary Jacobs) will carry out experiments on water-gas-shift (WGS) and Fischer-Tropsch processes. The Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS) reaction has recently seen resurgence in interest due to the volatile price fluctuations in oil. The result of the complex reaction is a wide distribution of products, which can be upgraded to produce gasoline, synthetic diesel, jet fuels, lubricants, and waxes. FTS is particularly useful for producing ultra-clean, virtually sulfur-free diesel, either as a transportation fuel for use in internal combustion engines, or as a potential chemical carrier of hydrogen. Because coal and biomass-derived syngas has a relatively low H2/CO ratio relative to natural gas-derived syngas, water-gas shift is an important reaction for adjusting the H2/CO ratio upward, rejecting CO2 in the process, which may in the future be captured and sequestered.
  • He was in the press in a story in the September 15, 2008 issue of C & E News includes an article titled "Improving Catalysts for Fuel Synthesis," which quotes CAER's expert Burt Davis. There is also a short side-bar on cleaning up the coal-to-liquids process.

Burt Davis working on a reactor
Burt Davis

Congratulations to Dr. Davis and his crew who continue to find ways to make chemistry interesting!

Contact Dr. Burt Davis