University of Minnesota: University of Minnesota awarded nearly $22M to lead two Energy Frontier Research Centers

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The University of Minnesota is one of only a few select institutions awarded two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs).

Over four years, the Center for Interacting Geo-Processes in Mineral Carbon Storage will receive $11 million and the Center for Programmable Energy Catalysis will receive $10.6 million.

The awards are part of a $540 million initiative by the DOE to invest in clean energy technologies and low-carbon manufacturing to help the U.S. achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The DOE has funded new centers at 54 universities and 11 national labs across the country. The U of M is one of only six institutions that received funding for two EFRCs.

Center for Interacting Geo-Processes in Mineral Carbon Storage
The Center for Interacting Geo-Processes in Mineral Carbon Storage will bring together engineers and scientists from five internationally renowned organizations to study and improve the process of carbon mineralization, a promising means of permanently storing carbon dioxide in geologic formations.

If successful, the work from this center has the potential to make this process widely applicable and even reverse some effects of climate change.

“We are excited about this project because it will allow us to hopefully make a significant impact on climate change,” said Emmanuel Detournay, project director, principal investigator and professor of rock mechanics in the U of M College of Science and Engineering.

U of M scientists and engineers will lead a work group with colleagues from the University of Southampton, Georgia Institute of Technology, Northwestern University and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Other U of M faculty include Peter Kang, Bojan Guzina, Joseph Labuz, Jia-Liang Le, Sonia Mogilevskaya and Vaughan Voller.

Center for Programmable Energy Catalysis
Researchers at the Center for Programmable Energy Catalysis will focus on transforming how catalysts convert energy-rich molecules in chemical reactions, ultimately leading to enhancements in rate, selectivity and conversion of those reactions.

The researchers aim to find a way to more efficiently convert low-cost renewable power to carbon-free liquid fuels, which could lead to 100% implementation of renewable power technologies such as wind turbines and solar photovoltaics.

“Financial support by the U.S. Department of Energy will enable the creation of an entirely new catalyst technology that achieves higher reaction rates and better reaction control for the most important chemistries required to address climate change,” said Paul Dauenhauer, project director and a professor in the College of Science and Engineering.

U of M scientists and engineers will lead a work group with colleagues from the University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of Michigan, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Clemson University, the University of Houston and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Other U of M faculty include Daniel Frisbie, Matthew Neurock, Aditya Bhan, Bharat Jalan and Renee Frontiera.

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