WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A group of Purdue University faculty and staff who work to convert nonfood plant materials into usable transportation fuels and other products received the 2014 College of Agriculture TEAM award.

TEAM is an acronym for Together Everyone Achieves More, and the award is given annually to a Purdue team for their interdisciplinary achievements. This year’s winning group is the Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuel, or C3Bio.

“The C3Bio team brings together collaborators from multiple colleges, Discovery Park and external partners to answer critical questions around using biomass from grasses and trees to produce energy-dense fuels that will provide the next generation of sustainable energy for our planet,” said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture.

“Their demonstrated commitment to innovative research, conscientious mentorship and broad dissemination of scientific advances to our stakeholders make them a deserving recipient of this award.”

Established at Purdue in 2009 as one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Frontier Research Centers, C3Bio tackles societal issues and approaches them through the integration of multiple disciplines. With members in four Purdue colleges, the team pulls resources from study focuses such as plant genetics, molecular biology and analytical chemistry.

C3Bio works with biomass — in particular, the stems of trees and grasses — to convert components of plant cells called lignin and cellulose into hydrocarbon fuels.

Some of the group’s key findings include discovering ways to control the assembly of lignin in biomass at the molecular level, improvement of catalyst systems to convert biomass to fuels and the integration of biology, chemistry and chemical engineering to maximize carbon and energy efficiency.

C3Bio consists of members from the Colleges of Agriculture, Engineering, Science and Technology, as well as Discovery Park.

The team will receive a commemorative plaque to be displayed in the agricultural administration building and a $10,000 cash prize. The team plans to use the award to provide travel grants for their graduate students and research staff to attend professional conferences.