freshly funded

3 Texas energy researchers earn early-career grants

Three researchers from Texas are among 93 early career scientists who will receive a collective $135 million in funding for projects lasting up to five years in duration. Photo via Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded funds to three Texas university researchers as part of its 2023 Early Career Research Program.

The researchers from Texas A&M University, University of Houston, and University of North Texas are among 93 early career scientists who will receive a collective $135 million in funding for projects lasting up to five years in duration. The DOE said in a statement that $69 million of those funds will be doled out in Fiscal Year 2023.

The funding is part of the DOE Office of Science’s Early Career Research Program which aims to support U.S. scientists during their formative years. Awardees must be an untenured, tenure-track assistant or associate professor at a U.S. academic institution or a full-time employee at a DOE National Laboratory who received a Ph.D. within the past 12 years to receive the funding.

“Supporting America’s scientists and researchers early in their careers will ensure the United States remains at the forefront of scientific discovery,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm says in a statement. “The funding announced today gives the recipients the resources to find the answers to some of the most complex questions as they establish themselves as experts in their fields.”

This year's Texas researchers were:

  • Youtong Zheng, Assistant Professor Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Houston: Zheng's work focuses on how air pollution in urban communities relates to the intensification of storms, known as the aerosol invigoration effect. This research aims to use the DOE's Simple Cloud-Resolving E3SM Atmosphere Model (SCREAM) to improve the predictability of coastal-urban systems and improve DOE models.
  • Philip Adsley, Assistant Professor Department of Physics & Astronomy and Cyclotron Institute at Texas A&M University: Adsley looks at the dipole response of nuclei. The research will "develop independent calibration standards for dipole response measurements to validate modern experimental studies and investigate historical experimental discrepancies," according to an abstract. Experiments will be performed at Texas A&M, in Germany and in South Africa.
  • Omar Valsson, Assistant Professor Department of Chemistry at the University of North Texas: Valsson's research considers the polymorphism of molecular crystals. The research looks to develop a free energy sampling method for polymorphic transitions that can be applied to a wide range of molecular crystal systems. The findings have applications in chemistry, materials science, and the pharmaceutical and semiconductor industries, according to an abstract.

Since the DOE launched the Early Career Research Program in 2010 it has made 868 awards to university and National Lab researchers.

Earlier this summer the DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, announced $100 million in funding for its SCALEUP program at a Rice University event. Joe Zhou, CEO of Houston-based Quidnet Energy, spoke at the event on how the DOE funding benefitted his company.

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A View From HETI

It's the first time the company has used EVs in any of its upstream sites, including the Permian Basin. Photo via exxonmobil.com

ExxonMobil has upgraded its Permian Basin fleet of trucks with sustainability in mind.

The Houston-headquartered company announced a new pilot program last week, rolling out 10 new all-electric pickup trucks at its Cowboy Central Delivery Point in southeast New Mexico. It's the first time the company has used EVs in any of its upstream sites, including the Permian Basin.

“We expect these EV trucks will require less maintenance, which will help reduce cost, while also contributing to our plan to achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions in our Permian operations by 2030," Kartik Garg, ExxonMobil's New Mexico production manager, says in a news release.

ExxonMobil has already deployed EV trucks at its facilities in Baytown, Beaumont, and Baton Rouge, but the Permian Basin, which accounts for about half of ExxonMobil's total U.S. oil production, is a larger site. The company reports that "a typical vehicle there can log 30,000 miles a year."

The EV rollout comes after the company announced last year that it plans to be a major supplier of lithium for EV battery technology.

At the end of last year, ExxonMobil increased its financial commitment to implementing more sustainable solutions. The company reported that it is pursuing more than $20 billion of lower-emissions opportunities through 2027.

Cowboys and the EVs of the Permian Basin | ExxonMobilyoutu.be

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