Campus News

USAID partnership between UGA, Mexican universities to focus on production of biofuels

USAID partnership between UGA, Mexican universities to focus on production of biofuels in the agricultural sector

Athens, GA – The University of Georgia and Mexico’s livestock industry have formed a new research partnership to share expertise in generating fuels from waste materials. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development, the partnership will initiate training, internships and exchanges between UGA and a wide array of academics and professionals in Mexico.

The program is designed to provide Mexico’s agricultural professionals the skills needed to analyze and support sustainable management of resources at the interface of agriculture and the environment. The project is supported by a Higher Education for Development grant awarded under the USAID Training, Internship, Exchanges and Scholarship (TIES) program, which was presented to UGA engineering professor K.C. Das (project director for the U.S.) and Nagamani Balagurusamy (project director for Mexico) on June 13. Along with Das, faculty in UGA’s department of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will play a leading role.

The UGA partnership with the Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro and the Ecogenics Center for Study of Alternative Solutions of Sevierville, Tenn., will sponsor a demand-driven, integrated and interdisciplinary program of training and technical support to the livestock industry in the Laguna region of Mexico. The program will provide scholarships for 18 students from Mexico and sponsor faculty exchanges of 12 Mexican faculty visiting the U.S and 10 UGA faculty visiting Mexico over a two year period.

“The growth of the livestock industry across our border has many implications for the U.S.,” said Dale Threadgill, director of the UGA faculty of engineering. “We look forward to sharing and expanding our bioenergy expertise through this program and seeing this industry positively affect the economy and the environment.”

The program will target technology and business policy relating to integrated waste management that is cost-effective and will provide additional income through co-product generation from waste treatment. One aspect of the grant will integrate new innovations in animal waste treatment with the production of biofuels and bioenergy. In addition, the program will develop and analyze public policy, with a goal of regulatory regimes that improve productivity and competitiveness in the livestock sector.

“Under this research partnership, students will come here to gain insights and training in engineering technology connected to managing and converting waste to energy in the livestock sector,” said Das. “I am excited about it – the project will support education of graduate and undergraduate students at UGA and training of research and outreach faculty in Mexico and at our institution,” he said.

Joint training programs and workshops in the partnership will be organized by UGA-Mexican partner universities for students, faculty, government officials and regulatory board officials, as well as livestock industry personnel. Participants will focus on animal waste – using it to grow algae in the production of biodiesel, or anaerobically digesting it to produce methane, for example – and the fuels that can be generated from waste materials.

Livestock production worldwide has grown rapidly in light of increased demand for meat in developing countries. The potential for rural economic development and threats of environmental degradation alike have grown alongside the need for new sources of bioenergy. Finding new energy sources from waste streams within the industry is one way engineers have determined to fuse these three aspects into one route for competitive advantage and sustainable growth. The confluence of engineering technology with agricultural economics is a UGA strength that created the context for the new partnership.

The UGA Faculty of Engineering was established in 2001 to advance comprehensive engineering at the University of Georgia. With over 100 members from twenty-four departments in nine schools and colleges across campus, the Faculty of Engineering provides an entrepreneurial setting for engineering academic programs in the unique environment of UGA. For more information, visit