Penn State will lead a University Coalition for Fossil Energy Research (UCFER) that will advance basic and applied research for clean energy in support of the US Department of Energy mission.
UCFER will identify, select, execute, review and disseminate knowledge from research that will improve the efficiency of production and use of fossil energy resources while minimizing the environmental impacts and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Through a nationwide open competition, the six-year, $20 million project is awarded by the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. Founding members in addition to Penn State are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Texas A & M University, University of Kentucky, University of Southern California, University of Tulsa, University of Wyoming and Virginia Tech. Chunshan Song, director of Penn State’s Energy Institute in the College of Earth and Mineral Science and distinguished professor of fuel science and chemical engineering is the principal investigator and will be director of UCFER.
"Penn State has clearly established itself among the very top tier of America’s powerhouse energy research universities," said Penn State President Eric Barron. "I’m very pleased that Dr. Song has been recognized with this leadership role, and will be working with colleagues at other distinguished universities to generate and disseminate the knowledge that will address the energy security needs of our nation."
UCFER will engage in both fundamental and applied research for clean and low-carbon energy based on fossil resources. Outreach and technology transfer to industry will be important components of the coalition. With the aim of reducing environmental impacts and minimizing carbon dioxide emissions, the coalition will explore research in coal, natural gas and oil, including carbon dioxide capture, storage and utilization.
"We are grateful to DOE for entrusting us with this excellent opportunity and look forward to collaborating with our partner universities and the National Energy Technology Laboratory," said Penn State Vice President for Research Neil Sharkey. "Professor Song is ideally suited to lead this important multi-university collaboration and he has the full support of Penn State behind him to ensure effective deployment of precious federal dollars across the coalition as we work together to advance fossil energy research."
UCFER will support the mission of the U.S. Department of Energy through mechanisms that promote collaboration among the National Energy Technology Laboratory and the universities that are members of the Coalition by the coordination of research and the sharing of data. Its collaborative research will focus on coal, natural gas, and oil and will involve expertise in one or more of the following five core competence areas — geological and environmental systems, materials engineering and manufacturing, energy conversion engineering, systems engineering and analysis, and computational science and engineering.
Research in gas and oil will also include unconventional resources such as shale gas, environmental impacts, and natural gas infrastructure — leak detection and smart sensors, deep water technology, methane hydrates and enhanced recovery.