The university will invest more than $55 million in the initiative, says Chancellor Mark Wrighton.
I-CARES aims to foster research on the development and production of biofuels from plant and microbial systems and the exploration of sustainable alternative energy and environmental systems and practices.
Research at the center will also focus on the region's coal resources and efforts to mitigate carbon dioxide accumulation, improve combustion processes and reduce emissions.
I-CARES will operate under the direction of Himadri Pakrasi, PhD, who is simultaneously a professor of biology in the College of Arts & Sciences, and professor of energy in the School of Engineering.
Dr. Pakrasi is already involved in collagorative energy research. With a team of biologists, chemists, engineers and mathematicians at Washington University in St. Louis and six other institutions, he is examining the potential of photosynthetic bacteria as one of the next sources of biofuel that can run vehicles and heat houses.
I-CARES will foster such collaborative and cooperative research, both within the university and externally between Washington University and other regional research institutions, such as the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Brady Deaton, chancellor of the University of Missouri-Columbia, said, 'This is an outstanding example of research that will result in applications to improve the lives of all people around the world.'
Roger Beachy, Danforth Center president, said, the I-CARES initiative 'adds an important component to the regional initiative to establish St. Louis as a leader in the development of renewable energy.
The $55 million will be used to develop a building on the Danforth Campus for the Washington University Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering at a cost of $40 million. When completed, it will house I-CARES and related research projects. In the meantime, I-CARES will be located in Wilson Hall on the Danforth Campus.
At least $12.5 million will support five new endowed professorships to attract research leaders in energy, environment and sustainability.
At least $2.5 million over five years will seed and develop collaborative research within the university and with its regional partners. An additional $500,000 will support projects with international partner universities.