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U.S. Department of Energy Invests $17 Million for University-Led Projects to Advance Decarbonization and Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Funding Opportunity Announcement

Funding Supports Science and Engineering Students from Underserved Communities at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Other Minority Serving Institutions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) today announced the selection of 19 projects to receive $17.4 million to support novel, early-stage research at 17 U.S. colleges and universities. The funding will support projects that establish visiting scholars programs, create new academic curricula related to geosciences, and provide interdisciplinary training in humanities-driven science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Projects were selected under FECM’s University Training and Research program, which includes the University Carbon Research and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions sub-programs. These programs serve to educate and train the next generation of engineers and scientists working to advance integrated solutions key to meeting the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.

“FECM is excited to partner with our universities in communities located throughout the country to develop a skilled and diverse workforce of professionals helping to achieve our goal of a clean energy and industrial economy,” said Brad Crabtree, Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. “The projects announced today will help advance innovative ideas and technologies across FECM’s portfolio—supporting carbon capture, carbon dioxide removal, carbon conversion, hydrogen with carbon management, and critical minerals and materials programs.” 

The University Training and Research (UTR) program seeks to create research and development opportunities for traditionally underrepresented communities and tap into the innovative and diverse thinking of student researchers. The 19 projects selected for funding will help ensure that students are being equipped with cutting-edge, translatable skills that will allow them to contribute to the U.S. workforce and greater economy over the course of a longstanding and enduring career.

Five projects will establish a visiting scholar program consisting of multi-institution collaborations for student exchanges from minority-serving institutions:

  • Synergizing Minority-Serving Institution Partnerships for Carbon-Negative Geologic Hydrogen Production — The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University (Stanford, California) with visiting scholars from Texas Tech University and the University of Houston
  • The Southwest Carbon, Capture, Utilization, and Storage Training and Research Partnership — New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (Socorro, New Mexico) with visiting scholars from Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, Southeast New Mexico College, San Juan College, Prairie View A&M University, and New Mexico State University
  • Engineering Highly Scalable and Efficient Sorption Materials for Direct Air Capture — New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (Socorro, New Mexico) in partnership with the University of Wyoming and visiting scholars from Central Wyoming University, Dillard University, and Navajo Technical University
  • Incubating Next Generation Clean Energy Scientists and Engineers Through Minority-Scholar Exchange and In-Situ Hydrogen Production Research — Texas Tech University (Lubbock, Texas) with visiting scholars from Texas A&M University, Howard University, and the University at Buffalo
  • Digital Engineering Coalition for Energy Systems Innovation — University of Texas at El Paso (El Paso, Texas) with visiting scholars from the University of Texas at El Paso, the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, and Angelo State University

One project will develop an academic curriculum exposing students to the field of geosciences to prepare a workforce for critical mineral and materials production:

  • Development of Mining Engineering Education Curriculum at HBCU: Tennessee State University to Prepare a Workforce for Critical Mineral Production — Tennessee State University (Nashville, Tennessee)

Three projects will support humanities-driven science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to facilitate interdisciplinary student training and technology development:

  • Plasma-Assisted Conversion of CO2-Containing CH4 to Value Added Chemicals — North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (Greensboro, North Carolina)
  • A Humanities-Driven STEM Approach for Student Training in Carbon Capture and Conversion — The Regents of the University of California, Riverside (Riverside, California)
  • The Role of Carbon Dioxide Conversion in the Clean Energy Transition: Social, Economic, and Technological Opportunities and Challenges — University of Wyoming (Laramie, Wyoming)

Five projects will focus on improving recovery of critical minerals and materials from coal-based resources:

  • Characterization of Coal Mine Drainage Wastes to Inform the Extraction Potential of Critical Metals — Duke University (Durham, North Carolina)
  • Testing and Developing Ionic Liquids and Associated Methods for Extraction, Separation, or Refinement of Critical Minerals from Coal-based Resources — Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia)
  • Application of Carboranyl Ionic Liquids for Rare Earth Element Recovery from Coal Ash — Howard University (Washington, D.C.)
  • Advancing Rare Earth Element Recovery from Coal Refuse Streams: An Ionic Liquid-Assisted Process Coupled with Molecular Dynamics Simulation-Supported Machine Learning for Novel Ionic Liquid Development — University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, Kentucky)
  • Novel Supercritical Fluid Extraction/Enrichment of Rare Earth Elements Directly from Solid Coal-Based Resources — Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri)

Five projects will explore the technical feasibility and community benefit of repurposing existing energy assets for clean energy and manufacturing to support deep decarbonization:

  • Prospective Fossil Asset Transition for Alaska’s Legacy Pipeline for Distribution of Liquid Hydrogen Carriers — University of Alaska, Fairbanks (Fairbanks, Alaska)
  • Integrated Education and Research in Transition Energy for Communities — University of Hawaii (Honolulu, Hawaii)
  • A Comprehensive Roadmap for Repurposing Offshore Infrastructure for Clean Energy Projects in the Gulf of Mexico — University of Houston (Houston, Texas)
  • Houston Hydrogen Transportation Pilot — University of Houston (Houston, Texas)
  • Charting a Path Forward: Energy and Economic Transition Pathways for Utah’s Coal Country — University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah)

DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), under the purview of FECM, will manage selected projects. A detailed list of the selected projects can be found here.

In alignment with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance environmental justice and equity, DOE is dedicated to ensuring that all projects selected under the UTR program carefully address the societal considerations and impacts, emphasizing active engagement with communities; incorporating diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; and promoting workforce development and quality jobs. The selected projects will be required to develop and implement strategies to ensure strong community and worker benefits, and report on such activities and outcomes.

FECM minimizes environmental and climate impacts of fossil fuels and industrial processes while working to achieve net-zero emissions across the U.S economy. Priority areas of technology work include carbon capture, carbon conversion, carbon dioxide removal, carbon dioxide transport and storage, hydrogen production with carbon management, methane emissions reduction, and critical minerals production. To learn more, visit the FECM websitesign up for FECM news announcements, and visit the National Energy Technology Laboratory website.