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Awards / Honors

Professor Bryan Willson to be honored for sustainable development efforts Aug. 28

August 18, 2009

Mechanical engineering Professor Bryan Willson will be honored with the Maurice L. Albertson Medal in Sustainable Development on Friday, Aug. 28 at the Lory Student Center.

Pioneer of innovative research

At CSU, Bryan Willson has pioneered and directed innovative research in many areas, including university-based entrepreneurship, large-scale research-based experiential learning for undergraduates, and campus-wide interdisciplinary research.

Over the last 18 years, under his leadership, the CSU Engines & Energy Conversion Laboratory has developed into one of the nation’s premier engine laboratories. In 2004 and 2008, the laboratory was designated as a Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence. The EECL, under Willson’s leadership, is generally acknowledged as a world leader in its four primary specializations: natural gas engines, 2-stroke engines, hazardous air pollutants, and alternative fuels.

Global environmental problems

Beginning in 2002, Willson became interested in global environmental problems. He has helped develop 2-stroke engine retrofit technology to be applied to the 1.5 million two stroke engines used for transportation in Asia. This work has attracted the attention of the Philippine government and associated non-governmental organizations that have identified these engines as the primary cause of the Asian brown cloud. The retrofit technology is a direct outgrowth of the direct injection technology developed at the EECL for large bore natural gas pipeline engines. Dr. Willson co-founded a company – Envirofit International - in 2004 to commercialize this technology and to reach global scalability.

In addition to the 2-stroke work, Envirofit International has also become a world leader in the area of clean burning biomass cookstoves. More than three billion people, or half the world’s population, cook in their homes using traditional fire and stoves, burning biomass fuels like wood, dung and crop waste. Day in and day out, for hours at a time, families breathe in lethal fumes from these cooking fires. Indoor Air Pollution (IAP) currently claims the lives of 1.5 million people a year worldwide, or one person every 20 seconds. Women and children make up 85 percent of these deaths due to their increased exposure in the home.

Health, environmental, social, and economic improvements

To achieve the desired health, environmental, social and economic improvements, hundreds of millions of primitive stoves will need to be replaced. From the outset, Envirofit has systematically set the stage for this degree of global scalability and sustainability through: enterprise-based business model driving economic self-sustainability, voice-of-the-customer market research, disciplined ground-breaking R & D, modern product development process, robust durability and emissions testing, global supply chain supporting centralized quality-controlled mass-manufacturing, multi-tiered distribution and sales networks, location-specific marketing strategies, partnerships with global organizations and local MFIs and NGOs, and global awareness raising and brand building about Envirofit and the problems they look to address.

In creating products for developing world customers, Envirofit utilizes the same disciplined, mature product-development methodologies used by modern industry. Compared to traditional cooking fires, Envirofit cookstoves reduce emissions by as much as 80 percent, use up to 60 percent less fuel and reduce cooking cycle time by up to 50 percent. Built and engineered to address the unique cooking habits of our customers, Envirofit clean cookstoves are a result of over five years of market research, engineering R & D, emissions and durability testing in coordination with Shell Foundation and Colorado State University’s world-renown Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory. Envirofit International’s goal is to develop affordable, aesthetic, well-engineered technology solutions that have significant global health and environmental impacts and economic payback incentives for our customers.

Creating energy from algae

In 2006, Willson helped launch another company, Solix Biofuels - the leader in production technology used to create energy from algae. Solix technology will enable the large-scale commercialization of microalgae based fuels and co-products. The Solix approach captures CO2 from power plants and industrial processes and supplies the CO2 to low-cost photobioreactors to produce a fuel with much lower greenhouse-gas impact than petroleum-based fuels. They have recently commissioned the first commercial-scale algae-biofuel production facility, in partnership with the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in southwest Colorado. A New York Times story about Solix was published on Monday, Aug. 17, 2009.

Award ceremony Aug. 28

Willson will receive the Albertson Medal at the Maury Albertson Annual Birthday Benefit for Village Earth, a dinner and dance beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28 in the Main Ballroom at the Lory Student Center. Maurice L. (Maury) Albertson was a long-time professor of civil engineering at CSU, co-designer of the Peace Corps, former director of the CSU Research Foundation and a strong influence on a wide variety of CSU endeavors, including International Programs. He died at the age of 90 in January of this year.

The Aug. 28 event will support Village Earth, the organization that Albertson co-founded with Ed and Mimi Shinn in 1993. Village Earth is a non-profit dedicated to promoting sustainable community-based development around the world. The organization provides training, consultation, appropriate technology information, and project support services to communities in developing countries and at the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.

The public is welcome to attend the Maury Albertson Annual Birthday Benefit for Village Earth. To purchase tickets, go to

Contact: Mac McGoldrick
Phone: (970) 491-4793