The University of Wyoming has been selected as a member of a nine-university energy coalition that will take a hard look at the future of fossil fuels.

According to a UW news release, the National Energy Technology Laboratory, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy laboratory system, picked UW to join the University Coalition for Fossil Energy Research. The coalition, which will benefit from $20 million in initial funding over the next six years, was designed to advance basic and applied research that supports continued use of fossil energy and was established through an open competitive process held by the DOE.

As the group’s lead institution, Pennsylvania State University will coordinate facilities, expertise and resources from the coalition’s founding members. The coalition includes Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University, University of Kentucky, University of Southern California, University of Tulsa and Virginia Polytechnic and State University.

UW says Michael Pishko, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, sees the announcement as good news for the Cowboy State’s oil, gas and coal industries, which stand to benefit from results of the research.

“This award demonstrates UW’s continued leadership in research of clean and efficient use of fossil fuels,” says Pishko. “Leveraging investments made by the state in energy research has allowed the CEAS to build strength in critical research and technology areas required by the coal, oil and gas industries.”

Research by members of the coalition will delve in to areas that directly support the Office of Fossil Energy’s strategic priorities for coal, oil and gas. Those priorities embrace fire core areas: geological and environmental systems; materials engineering and manufacturing; energy conversion engineering and development of transformational technologies; systems engineering and analysis for advanced energy systems; and computational science and engineering integration of experimental data and engineering analyses.

Each institution of the coalition will propose research projects during the project selection and implementation stage. UW says it is well-positioned to capture some of the early release of money throughout the competitive evaluation process.

The coalition may grow over time. Importantly, members will pursue industry participation in research projects and promote technology transfer, both to the private sector and to bolster economic development.

Richard Horner, director of emerging projects and technology at the UW School of Energy Resources, says UW faculty members are well-placed due to pioneering work on coal conversion by the UW College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“UCFER is a fantastic opportunity for the brightest faculty and researchers of the CEAS to work alongside recognized scientists and researchers at NETL and other leading universities,” says Horner. “That will not only help them realize their talent, but also elevate their research work on to the world stage.”

“Building fossil energy-based, world-class research programs that focus upon sustaining a prosperous future for Wyoming oil, gas and coal cannot be achieved alone,” Horner adds.