DOE Selects Six Projects Under University Coal Research Program

WASHINGTON, DC  - The Department of Energy announced today that six projects will receive nearly $2.4 million in funding under the University Coal Research Program, the Department's longest-running student-teacher research grant initiative.

"I am pleased to announce the projects that have been selected as the result of the call to U.S. colleges and universities for proposals to conduct coal research," Jeffrey D. Jarrett, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy said. "Tapping the creativity and talents of America's young scientists to investigate long-term solutions for clean and efficient use of our nation's abundant coal resources reiterates the Department's commitment to overall basic science."

Now in its 28th year, the University Coal Research Program has directed nearly $122 million in coal-related research. Since the program began in 1979, approximately 1,750 science students and their professors have worked together on more than 700 federally funded research projects.

The projects selected this year will focus on technologies in three areas: instrumentation (sensors and controls), computational energy sciences, and materials sciences. Four projects were selected to receive up to $300,000 to work alone or in collaboration with another college or university. Two projects were selected for joint projects in which, at a minimum, three colleges or universities (or two colleges or universities and an industrial partner) will receive a maximum of $600,000.

University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Ind.) will employ computer-aided design to investigate materials for use in future high-temperature power-plant applications. It is estimated that the use of better and improved high-temperature structural materials could increase the power generation efficiency of coal-fired power plants by as much as 15 percent. Notre Dame researchers will develop a multi-scale simulation tool to analyze the properties one such promising material: silicon carbide-silicon nitride nanoceramic matrix composites. This tool will then be used as a basis for predicting optimal design variables to improve high-temperature performance of the nanocomposites. (DOE award: $300,000)
Dr. Tomar will focus on modeling material properties of these high performance composites at high temperature. Simultaneously, Dr. Renaud will couple his advanced multiscale material design techniques with the material modeling efforts.

See full News Release - November 29, 2006.