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 labs to the marketplace.
“We are currently putting together an energy technology incubator at Missouri S&T,” says Dr. David Borrok, vice provost and dean of S&T’s College of Engineering and Computing. “The energy research we do at S&T is incredible and covers many applications. We are delighted to support our research teams to advance their research into the commercial marketplace to help solve some of the world’s most challenging problems.”
The Missouri S&T Energy Technology Incubator (ETI) will provide research teams with seed grants and other resources to help them more quickly obtain patents and generate viable business products.
Borrok says researchers will be able to collaborate with S&T’s Kummer College of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development and work with the Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development, while also having some ETI funding available to kick-start their energy-focused research.
The first seed grants that will support 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 this fellowship, with the goal of helping faculty members take ideas from concept to reality.
“The goal is to have more of these seed grants and other resources available,” says Borrok. “We are grateful for the support Laegelers have shown S&T, and we hope that even more individuals will be inspired to contribute.”
Borrok says donors could choose a specific energy research focus or choose 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 ultra-fast charging of electric vehicles and recently demonstrated their efforts to the US Department of Energy.
The university has an ongoing research effort related to power electronics, transport electrification, microgrids and renewable energy systems. This research focuses on improving the reliability, efficiency, economy and safety of power system operation and planning. Missouri S&T is also home to the living labs of the Solar Village, which features 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 refueling stations, safety protocols, sensors and fuel cells. Scientists are studying how hydrogen can best be used to meet the federal government’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Faculty and students research carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) to reduce harmful emissions and wasted energy. Their efforts include carbon capture directly from air or point sources, mineralization of CO2 to produce carbon-negative concrete or cement aggregates, carbon recycling for enhanced oil recovery, and production of commodity chemicals and fuels from waste CO2. Research is also carried out on S&T with a focus on decarbonisation of the steel and cement industries.
Recognizing the untapped potential of geothermal energy as a sustainable and renewable resource, S&T’s research team is 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 to the procurement of critical minerals that support the global energy transition. This research aims to cut the environmental impact of mining and processing these minerals by using renewable energy and exploring methods that remove carbon from the process. S&T leads the charge in developing methods to extract resources from existing base metal extractions, tailings and other unconventional sources.
Missouri S&T has been home to a nuclear reactor that has been used for research and training since 1961. University researchers study nuclear materials, energy environmental impact assessments, siting power plants and spent nuclear fuel, and applying machine learning and digital twins to power plant life cycles. Research efforts also extend to radioisotopes and thermal hydraulics of cooling systems, investigation of irradiation effects in insulators and electronics, development of structural alloys for reactor vessels, and investigation of irradiation effects on ceramic fuels and moderators.
How to help
To support this initiative, visit give.mst.edu, select “other” and type “ETI”. Contact Lara Turek, Executive Director of Development, at [email protected] or 314-971-1101 with any questions.
About Missouri S&T
Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university with 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 fields of study and ranks 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.