The University Training and Research (UTR) program supports novel, early-stage research at U.S. colleges and universities that advances the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) mission of delivering integrated solutions related to minimizing the environmental impacts of fossil fuels while working towards net-zero emissions.
By investing in the education and training of America’s future scientists and engineers, this program highlights the key role technology plays in addressing America’s energy challenges, promotes the development of innovative and disruptive technologies, and reinforces workforce development as a part of our nation’s continued economic prosperity. With a special emphasis on diversity and inclusion, UTR program provides opportunities for traditionally underrepresented communities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
The UTR program supports the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions (HBCU–MSI) and the University Carbon Research (UCR) programs. The core mission of both programs is the following:
Between fiscal years 2010 and 2022, the UTR program made 140 R&D awards valued at more than $47.6 million and helped to support 455 students at various stages in their academic careers, including undergraduate, master’s, and PhD levels.
The UTR program conducts a nationwide competitive solicitation each year. Research and development projects are awarded as grants ($250K-750K) with a typical duration of 2–3 years. This educational outreach initiative enhances the Department of Energy’s ability to develop and sustain a national program of university research that seeks technology development to reduce carbon emissions and train the workforce of the future that is prepared to address the global challenge of climate change.
A yearly breakdown of the awards is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Yearly Awarded Projects Since 2010.
The program provides a mechanism for cooperative research among MSIs, the private sector, and Federal agencies. The central thrust of the program is to generate fresh ideas and tap unique talent, define applicable fundamental scientific principles, and develop advanced concepts for generating new and improved technologies across the full spectrum of fossil energy and carbon management R&D programs. Since its inception, the program has emphasized improving the capabilities of next-generation environmentally sustainable energy systems. The program supports FECM’s strategic vision of advancing equity, labor and engagement, carbon management approaches toward deep decarbonization, and technologies that lead to sustainable energy resources.
As of October 1, 2023 (first quarter of FY23), there are 51 active UTR projects; the product of six different Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs). Figures 2 and 3 below show locations of participating universities and colleges states and city locations for both HBCU-MSI and UCR programs.
For more than 30 years, FECM and NETL have supported the HBCU–MSI program, making it one of the longest-running university training initiatives within DOE. The key objective for HBCU–MSI program includes equipping underrepresented, diverse student groups with cutting-edge, translatable skillsets through R&D opportunities that will help them sustain successful STEM careers.
Figure 2 below show locations of participating universities and colleges states and city locations for HBCU-MSI program
The UCR program emphasizes R&D efforts that are structured to achieve FECM strategic goals in concert with student education in relevant carbon management topics. Key research areas supported include (but are not limited to): near-zero-emission power plants, carbon capture, computational energy sciences, development of advanced high-performance materials, sensors and controls, and the development of hybrid power generation systems.
Figure 3 below show locations of participating universities and colleges states and city locations for UCR program.
The UTR program supports novel, early-stage research on wide array of technologies that align with the FECM Strategic Vision: