PU team to regionals after Ind. energy competition win

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – For a second year in a row, a Purdue University team won the state title in a business plan competition for clean energy startups and move on to regionals in Chicago.

Spero Energy Inc. won the Indiana Clean Energy Challenge in February. The team will now compete in the Midwest Clean Energy Challenge Thursday, April 3 in Chicago.

Spero Energy’s mission is to develop sustainable processes to create high-value flavor and fragrance chemicals from plant components. Team member Ian Klein, a Purdue chemistry graduate student, said the company’s technology benefits firms that produce cellulosic ethanol, an alternative fuel that is produced from wood biomass.

Besides Klein, the Spero Energy team includes Barron B. Hewetson, a graduate research assistant in Purdue’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering; Trenton Parsell, post-doctorate researcher in the Department of Chemistry; and Mahdi Abu-Omar, the R.B. Wetherill Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and associate director of Purdue’s Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels.

Five other teams will compete in Clean Energy Trust’s 2014 Clean Energy Challenge. They are Black Pine Engineering from the University of Michigan, Imagine Labs from the University of Missouri, Sprav Water from Case Western Reserve University, and two teams from Northwestern University Meter Genius and MyPower.

The winner will represent the Midwest in early summer in the National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Four other teams from Purdue University competed in the Indiana Clean Energy Challenge.

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