UT Austin Receives $12 Million to Help U.S. Curtail Greenhouse Gas Emissions

June 19, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded The University of Texas at Austin a $12 million grant to fund carbon storage research aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The four-year DOE grant will fund a carbon storage research project at the university’s Center for Frontiers of Subsurface Energy Security, which is led by Larry W. Lake, professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering. This grant is a renewal of the department’s five-year, $15.5 million research grant to the center in 2009.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz announced that UT Austin’s center is one of 32 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) across the nation that will receive a total of $100 million in funding to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to build the 21st-century energy economy.

UT Austin is the only university in Texas to receive the grant.

“UT Austin is ground zero for addressing critical carbon storage challenges, including sustaining large carbon dioxide storage rates for decades, better using storage space and improving carbon containment,” said Lake, who holds the Shahid and Sharon Ullah Endowed Chair in Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at the Cockrell School. “This research has the potential to create a healthier environment and economy.”

Carbon storage is a major focus for the White House, which announced earlier this month its proposal to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent by 2030, compared with the level in 2005.

The goal of UT Austin’s research is to improve geologic CO2 storage, which is a key technology for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel consumption — especially from coal and natural gas used to generate electricity. A multidisciplinary team from the Cockrell School, UT Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences and Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will collaborate on the project. 

UT Austin’s research project, which includes 20 faculty members from across the university, will begin this fall.

“Today, we are mobilizing some of our most talented scientists to join forces and pursue the discoveries and breakthroughs that will lay the foundation for our nation’s energy future,” Moniz said. “The funding will help fuel scientific and technological innovation.”

Since the EFRC program was established in 2009, the centers have produced 5,400 peer-reviewed scientific publications and hundreds of inventions at various stages of the patent process.

Additional information about the EFRCs can be found on the DOE website.

For more information, contact: Patrick Wiseman, Cockrell School of Engineering College of Engineering, 512-232-8060;  Katharine Grieve, Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, Cockrell School of Engineering College of Engineering, 512-471-3269;  Sandra Zaragoza, Cockrell School of Engineering College of Engineering, 512-471-2129.