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UT Austin Energy Bulletin March 2017
 
   
 

NEWS

   
   

Applications now accepted for 2017-18 UT Energy Journalism Fellowship
Early career journalists seeking a year away from the daily grind of deadlines to work on an energy-related book or other long-term project can now apply for the 2017-18 UT Energy Journalism Fellowship. The Fellowship, sponsored by UT Austin's Energy Institute, Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law & Business and School of Journalism, provides credentialed journalists a one-year hiatus from reporting to work on a long-form writing project, such as a book or screenplay. The Fellowship runs from September 1, 2017 – August 31, 2018. Go here to learn more about the 2017-18 UT Energy Journalism Fellowship or apply today.

   

Energy researcher Michelle Addington named Dean of School of Architecture
UT Austin has named Michelle Addington its new dean of the School of Architecture. Educated as both an architect and engineer, Addington brings a broad, interdisciplinary perspective to her new position. After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Tulane, Addington worked for 13 years as an engineer, including positions at NASA's Goddard Space Flight center and at Dupont as a process design and power plant engineer. Her teaching and research focus on sustainable energy systems, advanced materials and new technologies. Read more.

   
   
 

POLICY

   
   

Op-Ed: time has come to dispense with the 'war' on coal and find innovations to reinvent a valuable industry
The U.S. coal industry needs to develop a collaborative approach with government to reinvent itself, write Drs. Robert Hebner, director of UT Austin's Center for Electromechanics, and David Tuttle, research fellow with the university's Energy Institute, in a new op-ed. While the use of coal to generate electricity has declined, the cost of replacing coal-fired power plants and the infrastructure that supports them will limit the rate at which coal will be replaced by alternative sources, such as wind and solar. What is needed, the authors argue, is a coordinated effort between industry and government to develop technological innovations not unlike what occurred in the 1980s and 1990s in the semiconductor industry. For more, read the op-ed, which was published in the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the East Bay (CA) Times.

   

Op-Ed: Texas positioned to be a leader in producing hydrogen for electric vehicles, industrial applications
Texas is poised to be a leader in producing hydrogen for the next generation of electrically powered vehicles, and in the ongoing transition to a cleaner and more efficient energy system, write Drs. Alan Lloyd, a senior research fellow at the Energy Institute, and Michael Webber, deputy director of the Institute, in a new op-ed. As the nation's largest producer of hydrogen, Texas also has the knowledge and expertise needed to use hydrogen to power turbines to create heat and electricity and as a feedstock in industrial applications such as the production of steel and chemicals, and in the semiconductor industry. The op-ed has been published in the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News, Rio Grande Guardian, and Texas Monthly. Read more.

   
   
 

RESEARCH

   
   

Lithium-Ion Battery Inventor Introduces New Technology for Fast-Charging, Noncombustible Batteries
Mechanical Engineering Prof. John Goodenough, renowned as co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, has developed the first all-solid-state battery cells that could lead to safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting batteries for cellphones, electric cars and large-scale energy storage. Dr. Goodenough, along with senior research fellow Maria Helena Braga, detailed his findings in a paper recently published in Energy & Environmental Science. For more, read an article on the Cockrell School of Engineering website, and stories in North American Energy News, the Austin American-Statesman, Gizmodo UK, Electronics Weekly, and Newsweek.

   

New research examines investment options for the electric grid of the future
The cheapest and likeliest pathway to a cleaner energy future is one that leverages, not duplicates, the existing electric grid and associated infrastructure, writes Dr. Joshua Rhodes in a new article in The Conversation. Rhodes' article provides a snapshot of new research he has conducted on what the existing electric grid is worth, what it would cost to replace it, and which technologies are best suited for needed investment. Rhodes based his analysis on calculations derived from a variety of public reports, and estimates for new construction and standard approaches for estimating depreciation. From there, he quantified the value of the nation's assets for power generation, transmission and distribution. For more, read the entire article, which also has been published in the San Antonio Express-News, the Houston Chronicle, the San Francisco Gate, the Albany (NY) Times-Union, and Salon.

   

Researchers link Methane in groundwater to Natural Sources
UT Austin scientists have found that high levels of methane in well water from two counties near Fort Worth are probably from shallow natural gas deposits, not natural gas leaks caused by hydraulic fracturing operations in the underlying Barnett Shale. The research, published in the journal Groundwater, builds on previous studies on well water quality in the Barnett Shale and uses chemical and geographic evidence to tie the elevated methane level in certain water wells to methane in natural shallow deposits. J.P. Nicot, a research scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology, a unit of the UT Jackson School of Geosciences, led the research. Read more.

   

UT Austin team improves performance of Li-sulfur battery
Researchers in UT Austin's Department of Mechanical Engineering have developed an electrode for lithium-sulfur batteries that improves cyclic stability and rate capability. As published in the American Chemical Society's journal Nano Letters, the team used polypyrrole–manganese dioxide coaxial nanotubes to encase the sulfur in the battery. The lithium–sulfur batteries still face many challenges, such as poor conductivity of sulfur, but researches are developing unique approaches to solving these issues. Read more to learn more about their findings.

   
   
 

PEOPLE

   
   

Varun Rai named Associate Dean for Research at LBJ School of Public Affairs
UT Austin Mechanical Engineering Professor Varun Rai has been named Associate Dean for Research at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, where he will oversee a broad portfolio of research efforts and initiatives and represent the LBJ School in university-wide research programs and operations. Dr. Rai currently directs the Energy Systems Transformation Research Group and is a Faculty Affiliate at the Energy Institute. From 2013–2015 he served as a commissioner for Austin Energy, the vertically integrated, municipal electric utility for the City of Austin. Additionally, Dr. Rai serves on the editorial board of The Electricity Journal and Energy Research & Social Science, for which he is also an associate editor. Read more.

   
   
 

EVENTS

   
   

Webber Energy Group & CleanTX Clean Energy Beers
April 3 | Uncle Billy's Brew & Que

Join the Webber Energy Group and CleanTX for food, drink, and conversation at this monthly gathering of Austin's clean energy community. The is a lively gathering of job hunters, employers, investors, inventors, business partners, and others involved in clean energy. 6:00 p.m. at Uncle Billy's Brew & Que. No RSVP required.

   

RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT
Dr. Gürcan Gülen
Research Scientist & Senior Energy Economist
Center for Energy Economics | Bureau of Economic Geology | Jackson School of Geosciences

   
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