Be the Creed: Sushil Adhikari

I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and hands to work skillfully.

Sushil Adhikari, Alumni Professor of biosystems engineering, is from Nepal. He’s proud of Nepal. He misses it. But in terms of providing an environment that could fuel his passion, there’s just no comparison to his home for the past 12 years. Because fuel is his passion, and when it comes to the kind Adhikari is interested in, Alabama’s needle is on full.

“Trees can be converted into fuels or chemicals,” said Adhikari, who directs the Center for Bioenergy and Bioproducts, “and we grow a lot of trees in Alabama.”

Despite being slightly smaller than Nepal, Alabama has approximately 23 million acres of forest — nearly 1 million more than Nepal. The state harvests 40 million tons of trees every year for pulp and paper products, but millions designated for industry still go unused.

“The goal of our center is to utilize agricultural and forest wastes to create new molecules that can reduce fossil energy,” Adhikari said. “After we take out the pulp and paper industry, we are looking at 30 million tons of trees looking for a new market.”

Given the rapidly increasing focus on renewable energy, Adhikari thinks the time to develop that market is now.

“People have been growing trees and selling to the pulp and timber industries for a long time,” he said. “But our center is trying to create opportunities beyond just pulp and paper and traditional wood products. We’re focused on producing fuels and chemicals from carbon-negative technologies, as well as sequestering carbon to improve the health of both soil and the atmosphere.”