Virginia Tech and eight other universities will work to advance clean energy through fossil fuels in a new $20 million project supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory announced the formation of the University Coalition for Fossil Energy Research to identify, select, execute, review and share knowledge to improve use of fossil energy resources. The aim is to reduce environmental impacts and minimize carbon dioxide emissions.

Roe-Hoan Yoon, a University Distinguished Professor and the Nicholas T. Camicia Professor of Mining and Minerals Engineering, is the project’s principal investigator at Virginia Tech.

“Even with advances in various renewable energy resources, coal will be here for a long time,” Yoon said. “It is important to find ways to utilize the fossil fuel more efficiently to improve the environment and to maintain economic prosperity. Many high-paying jobs are at stake.”

The coalition is led by Penn State. Additional founding members include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Texas A&M University, the University of Kentucky, the University of Southern California, the University of Tulsa, and the University of Wyoming.

“This is an important consortium that supports research and plays a role in the economic well-being of communities,” said Theresa Mayer, vice president for research and innovation at Virginia Tech. “We are pleased to be a founding member and grateful for the opportunity to work cooperatively with the top energy research universities in the country and the National Energy Technology Laboratory."

The coalition will focus on outreach, and technology transfer to industry will be an important goal of the coalition. The collaborative research will focus on coal, natural gas, and oil and make use of expertise in geological and environmental systems, materials engineering and manufacturing, energy-conversion engineering, systems engineering and analysis, and computational science and engineering.

“The production of clean, efficient energy is a national priority,” said Don Taylor, interim dean for the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. “More importantly, is increasingly essential to the maintenance of a high quality of life on our planet.”

NETL has issued its first request for proposals in the areas of carbon storage, carbon use and reuse, cross-cutting research and analysis, and rare earth elements.

A webinar explaining the objectives of the coalition and outlining next steps will be held from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 26. Faculty members are invited to participate.

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