Synthesizing Fuel Solutions

Purdue grad brings German alternative fuel technology to the Americas

If you take organic matter and apply the principles that nature uses to convert solar energy into fossil-fuel sources, you get the synthetic fuel SunDiesel.

Manufactured by the German company CHOREN, the renewable, synthetic fuel has garnered the attention of carmakers and environmentalists. Now, with Purdue alumnus Chris Peters at the helm of its American subsidiary, the company is hoping the United States takes notice.

Peters (BSAAE '01, MSAAE '02) returned to his native Hamburg, Germany, after graduating from Purdue. Following a stint in the research and development department of BMW, he joined CHOREN, which focuses on the advancement and commercialization of biomass to liquid synthetic fuels via the Fischer-Tropsch process. CHOREN's core technology is a biomass gasifier that converts organic matter into synthesis gas and then converts this gas into SunDiesel. Its name is derived from the process that is used: C (carbon), H (hydrogen) and O (oxygen) are converted into RENewable energy.

After time at the company's Beijing coal gasification sales office, Peters was assigned to develop CHOREN's presence in the Americas. In 2007, he launched CHOREN USA. From his office in Houston, Texas, he spends a large portion of his time devising and implementing lobbying strategies at both the state and federal level, creating business plans, securing financing, managing human resources, and overseeing IT management.

A long way from student days in Aeronautics and Astronautics? Maybe not.

"Purdue's AAE program offers a great, well-rounded education for aerospace engineers, but there is much more than that," he says. He advises students to take advantage of what the program and the faculty have to offer beyond the basic curriculum.

"It is my experience that no project is too expensive, no task is too complicated, and no curriculum is set in stone," he says. "Take advantage of the great variety of courses outside of the engineering curriculum. Choose them wisely, as they come in handy in your life in all sorts of unexpected ways."

-Joseph Fowler