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WVU gas utilization team to showcase technology and economic development efforts

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West Virginia University, a leader in technology and economic development around gas utilization, today announced that WVU’s Center for Innovation in Gas Research and Utilization will showcase its achievements at an open house on Tues., Dec. 12, from 4:30 p.m. to  7:30 p.m., at the Erickson Alumni Center.

Speakers will include Provost Joyce McConnell, Brian Anderson, director of the WVU Energy Institute, Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, and John Hu, CIGRU director and the Statler Chair in Engineering for Natural Gas Utilization. The event will conclude with a networking reception.

The open house precedes the kickoff of a five-year seed grant awarded to CIGRU by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, under its Research Challenge Grant program, one of three such awards to WVU. The WVU gas utilization team will include eight CIGRU researchers, working in partnership with Marshall University, the WVU Energy Institute, the WVU Bureau for Business and Economic Research, the West Virginia Chemical Alliance Zone, Morgantown’s National Energy Technology Laboratory and the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center.

The five-year, $2.2 million effort, includes $940,000 in WVU resources, rounding out CIGRU’s expanding research program. CIGRU is also currently performing more than $3 million in research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. In addition, the Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment Manufacturing Institute of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers recently funded a CIGRU-led team as one of its inaugural public-private partnerships.

The Research Challenge Grant effort will focus on advancing technologies currently being developed by WVU to promote local, up-the-value chain, downstream utilization of natural gas in West Virginia’s residential, commercial and industrial sectors, thus generating economic development within the state. This is the next step in regionally leveraging the industry-changing results in upstream production over the last two decades.

“The RCG funding will help us develop a cost-effective, modular catalytic natural gas-to-chemical process utilizing microwave excitation at low temperatures and pressures,” said Hu, the project’s principal investigator. “This will include both developing technologies for the conversion of wellhead natural gas to chemicals and an advanced combustion engine technology that targets transportation and distributed power generation.”

“As West Virginia’s experience with coal taught us, extraction is not enough,” said Joshua Fershee, associate dean at WVU’s College of Law and co-investigator on the project. “Our law and policy research will work to maximize benefits and minimize potential harms from shale gas development.  We must coordinate our efforts to develop the right legal and regulatory framework so that WVU’s continuing advances in gas utilization science can help attract and retain the sustainable downstream and up-the-value chain industries that will boost the economic infrastructure vital to the future of West Virginia, while protecting the environment and supporting the jobs our state desperately needs.”

“This RCG grant really is the fruition of the state’s and WVU’s investment in assembling an interdisciplinary team of world class gas utilization researchers within CIGRU,” said John Adams, an advisory committee member on the project and assistant director for business operations at the WVU Energy Institute.  “WVU’s team brings an integrated and innovative, interdisciplinary focus on technology development in the broader context of critical regulatory, economic, and policy issues that face the state and the region.”

WVU’s CIGRU works in partnership with government and industry stakeholders to advance the state of the art in shale gas upgrading technology through research. Its portfolio of activities achieves this mission through cross-cutting research of emerging enabling technologies, interdisciplinary training of scientists and engineers and facilitation of technology transfer to the private and government sectors.

RSVPs for the open house are appreciated but not required; send to or call 304.293.0964.



Director, Center for Innovation in Gas Research and Utilization and Statler Chair in Engineering for Natural Gas Utilization

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