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UTEP Receives 3 U.S. Department of Energy Research Grants


UTEP Receives 3 U.S. Department of Energy Research Grants


UTEP Receives 3 U.S. Department of Energy Research Grants

UTEP Receives 3 U.S. Department of Energy Research Grants

The University of Texas at El Paso was awarded three U.S. Department of Energy grants, each worth $200,000, to fund three projects that will "strengthen and promote U.S. energy security, scientific discovery and economic competitiveness," the DOE has announced.

UTEP's projects will address high-performance materials for long-term fossil energy applications, such as advanced ultrasupercritical combustion (AUSC), and investigate techniques for processing materials for advanced power generation technologies.

The DOE awards help universities such as UTEP develop the next generation of scientists and engineers. The projects are funded through the department's Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Other Minority Institutions (HBCU/OMIs) program.

The research grants keep the University on its path to becoming the first national research institution with a 21st century student demographic. The University's externally funded research expenditures have grown to more than $70 million.

The DOE selection is important for UTEP because it supports the University's work in energy research and preparation of graduates with an energy background, said Richard Schoephoerster, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering.

"We're working very closely with the Department of Energy," Schoephoerster said. "That's why they have entrusted in us and are investing in us to perform research, to develop intellectual property that they can use, but also, more importantly, to train the workforce so they are prepared for the energy industry."

The DOE grants will fund the following mechanical engineering projects that are expected to start in fall 2012.

  • Materials based on molybdenum disilicide (MoSi2) show promise for structural applications in the extreme operating conditions of advanced boilers and steam and gas turbines. MoSi2 has properties such as a high melting point and excellent high-temperature oxidation resistance that make it useful in oxidizing environments at temperatures above 2012°F. However, low fracture toughness at room temperature and low strength at extremely high temperatures hinder the widespread use of MoSi2 in structural applications. The University of Texas at El Paso will develop a novel and competitive process to manufacture MoSi2-based composites that are dense, low-porous materials of various shapes for structural applications in advanced fossil fuel power plants. The principal investigator will be Assistant Professor Evgeny Shafirovich, Ph.D.

"Specifically, we will use a new process which is called mechanically-activated combustion synthesis. We will make combustible mixtures of molybdenum, silicon, and some other additives, and then we will ignite these mixtures," Shafirovich said. "It is similar to pyrotechnics."

He said that Climax Molybdenum, a major manufacturer of molybdenum powders in the U.S., will add $36,000 for the project.

  • Professor Arturo Bronson, Ph.D., will oversee a study of how a plasma process can create a protective oxide to cover high-temperature materials. These materials will be used in the generation of energy from coal gasifiers. Bronson, who specializes in high temperature reactions, and Vinod Kumar, Ph.D., an expert in plasma flow dynamics, will form materials that will work at temperatures that can melt steel and titanium. Kumar, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is the project co-principal investigator. The additional use of coal to produce gaseous or liquid fuels increases the need for materials resistant to extreme temperatures. The pair's computational expertise also will enable them to study high temperature behavior to meet the demand for quick development of new materials needed for U.S. energy conversion.
  • The high-temperature environments of advanced ultrasupercrital combustion coal-fired boilers and steam and gas turbines require corrosion-resistant coatings with enhanced thermal durability and reliability. A technique for applying coatings is thermal spraying, in which heated or melted materials are sprayed onto the intended surface. The research, led by Professor Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., intends to develop advanced coatings and alloys that will have high-temperature creep properties and high-temperature oxidation and corrosion resistance. His co-principal investigator is Assistant Professor Chintalapalle Ramana, Ph.D.


The University of Texas at El Paso
College of Engineering
Engineering Building Room A148
500 W University Ave
El Paso, TX 79968

Phone: (915) 747-6444
Fax: (915) 747-5437

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