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SwRI and UTSA researchers to advance clean emissions, explore novel antimicrobials

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(June 23, 2014) -- Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and UTSA announce funding for two new joint research projects to advance clean emission technologies and study novel antimicrobials targeting Lyme disease. Funding through the organizations' Connecting through Research Partnerships ("Connect") program has been granted for $250,000 through August 2015 -- $125,000 for each project.

Established in 2010, the Connect program, coordinated between SwRI and the UTSA Office of the Vice President for Research, annually funds projects to stimulate inter-organizational research between the two institutions in fields such as advanced materials, chemistry and chemical engineering, energy, the environment, security and manufacturing. To date, seven projects have been funded totaling $1,230,863.

"Development of New Ruthenium Catalysts for the Low-temperature Reduction of NOx Emissions from Vehicle Exhaust" will be led by SwRI Principal Scientist Dr. Gordon J. Bartley of the Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division and Assistant Professor Zachary J. Tonzetich in the UTSA Department of Chemistry.

One of the main groups of pollutants resulting from fuel combustion is the oxides of nitrogen, or NOx. Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technologies effectively reduce NOx, but they require high operating temperatures above 200 degrees C. Future fuel economy standards will result in lower exhaust gas temperatures and limit the use of high-temperature SCR. SwRI and UTSA plan to develop a novel catalyst for low-temperature SCR to reduce emissions.

"Evaluation of Anti-Bacterial Effects of Novel Formulations that Target an Essential Metabolic Pathway of the Agent of Lyme Disease" will be led by SwRI Principal Scientist Dr. Gloria Gutierrez of the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division and Associate Professor of Bacterial Pathogenesis Janakiram Seshu in the UTSA Department of Biology. Seshu also is a member of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Center of Excellence in Infection Genomics.

Lyme disease remains a challenge to treat with more than 300,000 new cases every year in the United States and no viable vaccine currently available. Gutierrez and Seshu expect to inhibit the mevalonate pathway – an essential metabolic pathway -- of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterial agent of Lyme disease. This research could hinder the growth and survival of the agent of Lyme disease, and the principles can be readily used to control other infectious diseases caused by multi-drug-resistant strains of bacteria.

SwRI is an independent, nonprofit, applied research and development organization based in San Antonio with nearly 3,000 employees and an annual research volume of $592 million. Southwest Research Institute and SwRI are registered marks in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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For more information, visit the Southwest Research Institute website or SwRI newsroom.

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