Missouri S&T has long been home to one of the nation’s most diverse energy-focused research portfolios, and leaders are now taking steps to accelerate energy innovation from S&T’s laboratories to the marketplace.
“We are putting together an energy technology incubator,” says Dr. David Borrok, vice provost and dean of S&T’s College of Engineering and Computing. “The energy research we conduct at Missouri S&T is incredible and covers many applications. We are excited to provide support for our research teams to advance their research to the commercial marketplace to help solve some of the world’s most challenging issues.”
The Missouri S&T Energy Technology Incubator (ETI) will provide research teams with seed grants and other resources to help them more quickly get patents and generate viable business products.
Borrok says researchers will be able to partner with S&T’s Kummer College of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development and work with the office for Technology Transfer and Economic Development, while also having some ETI funding available to jumpstart their energy-focused research.
The first seed grants that will support the ETI are sponsored by Molly and Andrew Laegeler, alumni of S&T who previously funded a postdoctoral fellowship focused on sustainable energy. The new seed grants will replace that fellowship, with the goal of helping faculty members take ideas from concept to reality.
“The goal is to have several of these seed grants and other resources available,” Borrok says. “We are grateful for the support the Laegelers have shown S&T, and we hope even more individuals will be inspired to contribute.”
Borrok says donors could select a specific energy research focus or elect to support the university’s energy research more broadly. Some of S&T’s energy research areas include:
Researchers are developing energy storage technology by working with new materials, advanced electrode engineering and multiscale modeling to better understand and mitigate battery degradation and aging. Researchers are also studying extreme-fast charging capabilities for electric vehicles and recently demonstrated their efforts to the U.S. Department of Energy.
The university has ongoing research efforts related to power electronics, transportation electrification, microgrids and renewable energy systems. This research focuses on improving the reliability, efficiency, economics and security of power system operation and planning. Missouri S&T is also home to the Solar Village living laboratories, which have multiple microgrids and student-designed solar houses used for research and demonstrations.
Hydrogen generation, storage and use
The university’s hydrogen research covers areas such as green hydrogen production through electrolysis, nanostructured catalysts, hydrogen storage materials, hydrogen fueling stations, safety protocols, sensors and fuel cells. Researchers are studying how hydrogen can best be used to achieve the federal government’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Faculty and students are conducting research in carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) to reduce harmful emissions and wasted energy. Their efforts encompass carbon capture directly from air or point sources, the mineralization of CO2 to produce carbon-negative concrete or cement supplements, reusing carbon in enhanced oil recovery and producing commodity chemicals and fuels from waste CO2. Research is also being conducted at S&T focused on the decarbonization of the steel and cement industries.
Recognizing the untapped potential of geothermal energy as a sustainable and renewable resource, S&T’s research teams are working to improve heat recovery efficiency, improve fracture networks through new fracking methods, and control fluid flow loss during drilling with innovative materials.
Researchers are developing innovative and sustainable approaches for sourcing critical minerals that support the global energy transition. This research aims to cut down on the environmental impact of mining and processing these minerals by using renewable energy and exploring methods that remove carbon from the process. S&T is leading the charge on developing methods for extracting resources from existing base metal extractions, tailings and other unconventional sources.
Missouri S&T has been home to a nuclear reactor used for research and training since 1961. The university’s researchers study nuclear materials, environmental impact assessments of energy, siting of power plants and spent nuclear fuel, and applying machine learning and digital twins for power plant lifecycles. Research efforts also extend to radioisotopes and thermal hydraulics of cooling systems, investigating irradiation effects in insulators and electronics, developing structural alloys for reactor vessels, and studying irradiation effects on ceramic fuels and moderators.
How to help
To support this initiative, visit give.mst.edu, select “other” and type in “ETI.” Contact Lara Turek, executive director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-971-1101 with any questions.
Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students located in Rolla, Missouri. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System, Missouri S&T offers over 100 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top public universities for salary impact, according to the Wall Street Journal. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit www.mst.edu.