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Prior DOE visit to the mechanical engineering labs. From left to right: Abraham Trujillo, former graduate student in mechanical engineering (now employed at Blue Origin); Regis Conrad, director of the Division of Crosscutting Research at the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy; Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., chair of UTEP's Department of Mechanical Engineering; and Robert R. Romanosky, Ph.D., technology manager for Crosscutting Research and Analysis at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory.

UTEP Researchers Receive $2M to Develop Clean Energy Technologies; Project will be Housed at New Tech Park in Fabens

The Department of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at El Paso has received three new research grants totaling $2 million to develop next-generation clean energy technologies. These research projects, primarily funded by the Office of Fossil Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), contribute to the national priority of addressing climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring the energy security for the nation.

These collaborations between UTEP’s NASA MIRO Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research (cSETR) and W. M. Keck Center for 3-D Innovation push the frontiers of energy engineering through the use of aerospace and additive manufacturing (3-D printing) technologies. The projects also will support the dissertation research of students in UTEP’s new mechanical engineering doctoral program.

Mechanical engineering department Chair Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., said the grants reflect the department’s growing prowess of securing highly competitive research grants impacting the local region.

“Our focus on the development of diverse talents for the national and state workforce is also intertwined with our desire to spur the economic growth of Southwest Texas by harnessing a research innovation ecosystem,” Choudhuri said. “These projects are evidence of how UTEP’s national preeminence in research can create exciting opportunities for students from El Paso ZIP codes.”

Choudhuri and Associate Professor Norman Love, Ph.D., will collaborate with industry partner Airliquide to demonstrate oxy-combustion technologies. Pressurized oxy-combustion-based electric power generation systems have the potential to improve efficiency while achieving more than 90 percent of carbon dioxide capture.

The total project cost is about $1.5 million, which includes $1.1 million from the DOE’s Advanced Combustion Systems Program. The project will be housed at UTEP’s new Technology Research and Innovation Acceleration Park in Fabens, Texas.

Two other DOE-supported studies will explore materials and sensor technologies that may lower greenhouse gas emissions by improving efficiency of electric power generation. Each project received $250,000 from the DOE.

Love, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Yirong Lin, Ph.D., and Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ryan Wicker, Ph.D., will design, fabricate and evaluate an energy-harvesting material system capable of working at up to 1,000°C to harvest both vibrational and thermal energy from gas turbines.

Assistant Professor Calvin Stewart, Ph.D., and Associate Professor Jack Chessa, Ph.D., will develop a database charting creep and creep fatigue – the deformation and cracking – of P91 steel and 316 stainless steel. This information is critical for the development of the next generation of Advanced UltraSuperCritical (A-USC) power plants with near-zero emission.

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