WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A federal agency has chosen Purdue University to oversee a fledgling research center that will focus on developing new technologies to produce fuels from the nation’s shale-gas deposits.

The Purdue-based engineering research center, called CISTAR, will get nearly $20 million over five years from the National Science Foundation for the initiative. More funding and resources will come from the center’s industrial and university partners.

The new center begins operations on Oct. 1 at Purdue’s Discovery Park. Its Purdue researchers will work with counterparts from the University of New Mexico, Northwestern University, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Texas at Austin.

Their research will focus on devising new methods to convert light hydrocarbons from shale-gas into chemicals and transportation fuels using a network of portable, modular processing plants.