College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Students win grant to develop biochar business

A trio of graduate students affiliated with the Bioeconomy Institute is investigating the use of biochar in water desalination systems, thanks to a $150,000 grant from the SBIR/STTR Programs Office within the U.S. Dept. of Energy. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs encourage small businesses to engage in federal research and development that has potential for commercialization.

The students, Bernardo del Campo, Matt Kieffer, and Juan Proano Aviles, are studying mechanical engineering at Iowa State University. Their company, Advanced Renewable Technology International, Inc. (, located in Ames, will use the grant to study the desalination of brackish water using biochar. The project is expected to take nine months and is aimed at creating potable water at a reasonable cost.

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