Spring 2017 Newsletter Volume 1

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Collaboration with NETL a Key Component of UCFER

Dr. Madhava Syamlal of NETL discusses collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Mathews of Penn State.

Dr. Madhava Syamlal of NETL discusses collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Mathews of Penn State.

The University Coalition for Fossil Energy Research has been established to advance basic and applied fossil energy research through mechanisms that promote collaboration among the Department of Energy and the universities that are members of the coalition through the coordination of research and the sharing of data. This collaboration between university and NETL scientists is one of the most important objectives of the UCFER. Consequently, NETL held a video conference for interested faculty from each member university on May 26, 2016 to discuss the types and scope of collaborations for each research topic area in the first request for proposals. The purpose of the webinar was to set the framework for the first and subsequent solicitation rounds.

University researchers were encouraged to submit questions about the types of collaboration that NETL would view as feasible and worthwhile before and after the video-conference. NETL sent its responses to the researcher who posed the question, and the UCFER Operations Management Team posted the responses on the UCFER members-only website where all coalition members can view them.

Time to Start Inviting Members to the Industrial Advisory Board

UCFER has started to establish an Industrial Advisory Board (IAB). The IAB, depicted in the UCFER organization chart, will provide advice to the director of the UCFER on areas of research that would be of interest to coal, natural gas, and oil industries. The director, in consultation with the Executive Council, will recruit industry representatives to the IAB, who will serve in a voluntary capacity and participate in the UCFER’s annual review meeting, interim reviews, and other activities of the UCFER that the director determines to be appropriate. The IAB will seek to identify opportunities for industry to collaborate in the UCFER’s research areas. The IAB will provide advice and guidance on the industrial relevance of research projects and the outreach and technology transfer to industry.

Members of the Industry Advisory Board (IAB) should have recent, significant, senior-level experience in a firm engaged in commercial activity relating to fossil energy. In most cases, this experience would be with a for-profit entity but could in some cases be with a non-profit entity. Experience at the level of vice president, chief scientist, chief technology officer, chief engineer, or similar seniority is desirable. At the time of appointment to the IAB, the member should be currently serving in such a capacity. If not, they should have been serving in such a capacity fewer than ten years before the time of their appointment to the IAB.

UCFER Mourns the Passing of Dr. Christodoulos (Chris) Floudas of Texas A&M University

Dr. Christodoulos Floudas, director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute

Dr. Christodoulos Floudas, director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute

Dr. Chris Floudas, director of the Texas A&M University Energy Institute, passed away Sunday, August 14, 2016, while on vacation with his family in Greece. His passing away is a major loss to the UCFER program. He made important contributions to the UCFER project development since the early stage of the proposal team development in April 2015. He was the director of the Texas A&M University Energy Institute, a professor of chemical engineering (at Princeton University and then Texas A&M University), a world-renowned scholar in multi-scale modeling and optimization of complex chemical engineering systems, and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. He came to Texas A&M in February 2015 after teaching at Princeton University for twenty-nine years. Floudas received his undergraduate degree from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and his doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University. UCFER passes condolences on to his family, colleagues, and students.

UCFER Second Round of Solicitations

On July 22, 2016, UCFER released its second request for proposals (RFP) to its nine-member coalition. The RFP closed on September 16, 2016. A total of 25 proposals were received. Reviews were performed by the UCFER Technical Advisory Committee, Core Competency Advisory Board, external reviewers, and Executive Council. Funding available for this round of proposals was $2.08 million and the total funding requested was $8.16 million. The following chart summarized the number of proposals submitted per subtopic area and the amount requested. UCFER recommendations have been provided to NETL for funding consideration. Five proposals were recently approved for funding. Details of each project will be announced later.

Total Topic Area Funding Requested


Projects approved from RFP 2016-02 for funding:

Welcome New Member Universities!

An important feature of UCFER is the flexibility in the organizational structure to add new members to further strengthen UCFER’s research capabilities. New members must have strong technical expertise in fossil energy research and qualifications in disciplines that support NETL’s five core competency areas:

  1. Geological and Environmental Systems
  2. Materials Engineering and Manufacturing
  3. Energy Conversion Engineering
  4. Systems Engineering and Analysis
  5. Computational Science and Engineering

We welcomed the following universities to UCFER in March 2017 for the start of our second year of research activities:

New Member Universities from March 2017


Recent and Upcoming Events

March 6, 2017

Welcoming New University Members Teleconference

The UCFER director, Dr. Chunshan Song, organized a welcoming teleconferece for the representatives from all the seven new member universities. Together with the Operations Management Team at Penn State, he discussed with the participants about the UCFER structure, operation, the outline of proposal solicitation, and peer review, as well as the by-laws and the conflict of interest policy.