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Liao wins international award for renewable energy research


James C. Liao, UCLA’s Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Professor and chair of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been named co-winner of the 2013 Eni Prize for renewable energy research by the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in Milan. The honor, which comes with an award of 200,000 Euros, or about $260,000, will be presented on June 27 at the presidential palace in Rome. Liao shares the award with Frances Arnold, a professor of chemical engineering at the California Institute of Technology.

Liao is being recognized for his work in synthesizing isobutanol and other higher alcohols as biofuels. He also has developed a way to turn electricity into liquid fuel. His breakthroughs have potential for use in numerous industrial and energy applications.