PITTSBURGH, PA – Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham today announced $9.4 million in Department of Energy (DOE) grants to Pennsylvania universities and companies. The grants support President Bush’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative and research into cleaner fossil energy. This research promises to strengthen our nation’s energy security and reduce greenhouse emissions. Secretary Abraham announced the awards today at Carnegie Mellon University.
Pennsylvania companies and universities receiving funding are:
- University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh $800,000 (Fossil Energy)
- Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh $1,378,815 (Fossil Energy)
- Media and Process Technology Inc, Pittsburgh $2,592,349 (Hydrogen)
- Air Products and Chemicals Inc, Allentown $4,661,968 (Hydrogen)
In last year’s State of the Union address, President Bush communicated his vision that "the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free." The research projects announced today address major technical and economic hurdles in renewable and distributed hydrogen production technologies that must be overcome to make the President’s vision a reality.
"Hydrogen from diverse domestic resources has the long-term potential to deliver greater energy independence by reducing America’s reliance on foreign sources of energy," said Secretary Abraham. "The grants we are announcing today will move the nation toward advanced technologies that use renewable energy sources to make and deliver safe, affordable hydrogen for fuel cell powered vehicles, and increase the nation’s ability to search for oil more cleanly and effectively."
In announcing the fossil energy projects, Secretary Abraham said that the grants promise to strengthen our nation’s energy security by investing in our future, enhancing our domestic energy production and reducing greenhouse emissions.
Awards Announced Today
- University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA) will design, synthesize, and evaluate highly carbon dioxide (CO2) soluble compounds capable of associating in CO2 and forming large viscosity-enhancing macromolecules. The goal of this research is to provide the oil industry with the first economically viable CO2 thickening agent. Two types of compounds will be considered: a high molecular weight co-polymer with a high concentration of a CO2-philic group and a low concentration of an associating group; and a small, hydrogen-bonding molecule with short CO2-philic chains extending from the two hydrogen-bonding groups in the core of the molecule. Molecular simulation will be employed as an additional design tool. The computational effort will help quantify the strength of the interactions between the atoms in CO2 and the atoms in the thickening agent, and optimize the structure of the polymer based on first principles. (Project duration: 3 years; Total award value: $800,000)
- Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA) will develop the next-generation EXPLORER – a wireless, self-powered visual and robotic platform for live and real-time in-pipe natural gas main inspections. Their objective is a field-worthy, in-pipe robot system that can be adapted with modular sensor units for various kinds of pipe-wall inspections. The prototype vehicle will take advantage of advances in sensor development and integrate a third-party plug-and-ply sensor module into the vehicle train before it is demonstrated under realistic field conditions. Partners include the Northeast Gas Association. (Project duration: 2 years; Total award value: $1,378,815)
- Media and Process Technology Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA) will develop a membrane system that combines the water-gas-shift reaction for hydrogen production with a membrane for hydrogen purification into a single step. Researchers will focus on the use of a carbon molecular sieve technology which offers tremendous operational advantages to traditional technology. In the proposed system, coking and carbon monoxide production can be avoided. The single stage operation under the low temperature shift condition is a great opportunity to reduce hydrogen production capital and operating costs. The cost of hydrogen is a major barrier to commercialization of fuel cell vehicles. Partners include Johnson Matthey Catalyst, ChevronTexaco and the University of Southern California. (Project duration: 3 years; Total federal award value is expected to be $2,592,349)
- Air Products and Chemicals Inc. (Allentown, Pa.) will develop a reversible liquid-phase hydrogen carrier technology for transporting hydrogen from its central production facility to the point of use. The spent carrier would be transported back to the production facility where it would be re-hydrogenated. The proposed carrier is a low-volatility fluid that can be stored and transported using the current liquid fuels infrastructure, thereby potentially reducing the amount of new infrastructure investment needed. Reversible hydrogen absorption is achieved by novel, highly selective, catalytic hydrogenation/ dehydrogenation chemistry. Hydrogen delivery infrastructure is a major barrier to widespread use of hydrogen in vehicular and stationary fuel cells. Partners include United Technology Research Center and the Energy Institute at Penn State University. (Project duration: 4 years; Total federal award value is expected to be $4,661,968)