The university’s Institute of Energy Research, according to legislation documentation, will prepare students through academics, research and service.
University of Wyoming academic affairs vice president Myron Allen told International Longwall News the focus of the program will be on the state’s “energy portfolio”, which includes coal as well as natural gas, oil and renewables.
The legislative proposal was submitted to the state government last October with the current legislative session scheduled to end March 10.
The energy research arm of the program will include a Coalbed Natural Gas Center, a Center for Coal Conversion Technologies, and a Center for Renewable Energy Resources.
Others centers include a Western Research Institute, the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute (EORI), the Institute for Energy Research (IER), the Ruskleshaus Institute Energy Working Group and the Wyoming Information Science Center. A potential later addition may be a facility to aid in innovative design for windmill turbine blades.
The program’s proposal highlighted a commitment to industry involvement and cooperation. This includes avenues for students to continue work after graduation with “a program of industrial subscribers...[to] provide venues for summer internships and open doorways into energy-related careers.”
Allen noted they are seeking to build relationships with coal industry leaders that will help the program grow. “At the moment, we don’t have any funding from the coal industry, but we’ve been pursuing some contacts.”
Wyoming Mining Association executive director Marion Loomis told Wyoming newspaper the Star Tribune that other states are pursuing similar research initiatives to invest in the future of the state. His wish is to see Wyoming’s in-state coal usage increase. “I’d really like to see research on in-situ coal gasification,” he said.
Allen said the timing of the program, for the state and the industry, couldn’t be better. “As the only public university in America’s largest BTU-exporting state, the University of Wyoming has a unique capacity for national leadership in energy-related curricula and advanced energy-related research,” he said.