Campus Life

Biofuels research and teaching facility dedicated at Harrisburg campus

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Penn State Harrisburg has opened its new $1.6 million biofuels research and teaching laboratory and greenhouse.

Dedicated during a recent ceremony, the facility serves a center for the study of second- and third-generation biofuels, with the goal of bringing environmentally friendly energy alternatives to the marketplace. Located on the west side of campus, the center provides biotechnology equipment and greenhouse space for science and engineering classes and student and faculty research at Penn State Harrisburg, and also accommodates partnerships with other higher education institutions, schools and other organizations.

The 3,000-square-foot laboratory is equipped for studying plant tissue culture and proteins, genetic engineering of plants and molecular biology.

Climate-controlled around-the-clock for temperature, light and humidity, the 1,500-square-foot greenhouse is certified by the National Institutes of Health and the USDA as a Level 2 facility, meaning it is approved for growing genetically altered plants.

“The Central Pennsylvania Research and Teaching Laboratory for Biofuels is the only one of its kind, either commercial or educational, in this area. The lab and greenhouse provide a state-of-the-art facility for research and teaching, and will serve as a center for the important study of alternative energy sources,” said Penn State Harrisburg Chancellor Mukund Kulkarni. “Creation of the facility, a valuable resource now in Central Pennsylvania, was made possible through a partnership between the business sector, state government and higher education,” he said.

Various government agencies, private organizations and individuals provided support for the initiative, including Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Alternative and Clean Energy Program; Kiran and Anandi Patel; Ernst Conservation Seeds Inc.; Keystone Biofuels Inc., Ben Wootton, President; Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Translational Research in Energy Support Program (TRESP); UGI Utilities; Ramesh and Chandrika Patel; Whitaker Foundation Regional Math and Science Program, The Foundation for Enhancing Communities; and National Science Foundation, Research Experience for Undergraduates.

Penn State Harrisburg's biotech research and teaching facility includes a 1,500-square-foot greenhouse certified for growing genetically altered plants. Credit: Sharon Siegfried / Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated October 27, 2011