The University Training and Research (UTR) program within the Crosscutting Research portfolio 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 STEM fields
The University Training and Research program supports the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Other Minority Institutions (HBCU–OMI) and the University Coal Research (UCR) programs. The core mission of both programs is the following:
Between fiscal years 2010 and 2021, the UTR program made 122 R&D awards valued at more than $41.6 million and helped to support 189 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 ($250-500K) with a typical duration of 2–3 years. This educational outreach initiative enhances DOE’s ability to develop and sustain a national program of university research that seeks technology development to reduce carbon emissions and also 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.
The program provides a mechanism for cooperative research among minority-focused institutions, 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 energy and environmental capabilities of advanced coal, oil, gas, and environmental technology concepts. The program supports DOE’s Strategic Plan to advance domestic and global industrial competitiveness, clean energy research, national security, diversity initiatives, and environmental quality.
As of October 1, 2021 (first quarter of FY21), there are 42 active UTR projects, the product of five different Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs). Figures 2 and 3 below show locations of participating universities and colleges states and city locations for both HBCU-OMI and UCR programs.
For more than 30 years, NETL has supported the HBCU–OMI program, making it one of the longest-running university training initiatives within FECM. The key objective for HBCU–OMI program includes providing R&D opportunities for traditionally underrepresented populations in STEM fields. These activities align with the Biden Administration’s Justice40 Initiative which seeks to advance environmental justice and revitalize the economies of disadvantaged communities.
Figure 2 below show locations of participating universities and colleges states and city locations for HBCU-OMI program.
The UCR program emphasizes research and development 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 University Training and Research program develops a wide array of technologies in its two components, University Coal Research and Research by Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Other Minority Institutions. The active solicitation issued in 2021 and seeks projects in five areas of interest:
Funding opportunity announcements of recent years (with still-active projects) have sought projects in these areas of interest:
Together, the projects within the University Training and Research program are educating the next generation of scientists and engineers and helping to advance innovative and fundamental research focused on coal-based, fossil energy resources.