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9H Research Foundation Energy Competition Winners Announced at UW

May 10, 2022
three people holding an oversized check and a certificate
UW Ph.D. student Rami Alloush, of Damanhour, Egypt, right, took top honors in the recent 9H Research Foundation energy competition. Presenting the award were, from left, Gene Humphrey, from 9H Research Foundation, and UW School of Energy Resources Executive Director Holly Krutka. (UW Photo)

Rami Alloush, of Damanhour, Egypt, took top honors in the recent $4,000 9H Research Foundation energy competition at the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources.

Alloush, a doctoral student of petroleum engineering in UW’s Center of Innovation for Flow through Porous Media (COIFPM), received $2,000 for his detailed examination of the hydrogen production options available to Wyoming. He concluded that producing hydrogen in the Cowboy State through underground coal gasification via pyrolysis -- with carbon capture and storage -- is technologically feasible and economically superior while also meeting the nation’s low-carbon target.

The energy competition challenged UW students to present a technoeconomic analysis of different routes for hydrogen production in Wyoming and was launched in collaboration with UW’s SER.

“Hydrogen production has huge potential for the future of energy. As Wyoming is the nation’s leader in the energy sector, it is important to find the best feasible and economic means of hydrogen production in our state,” Alloush says. “I want to thank 9H Foundation and SER for the opportunity and support to perform a deep technoeconomic analysis for hydrogen production in Wyoming, which I personally believe has a huge promise.”

UW mechanical engineering master’s degree candidate Rhett Cook, of Laramie, received second place in the competition for his detailed technoeconomic analysis of photoelectrochemical (PEC) electrolysis. In his report, he concluded that PEC electrolysis presents a pathway to the future of green hydrogen. Though it is currently not economically feasible in Wyoming, he ascertained that it has the potential to become a disruptive technology in a few years.

Mohamed Gamal, of Cairo, Egypt, was awarded third place for his analysis of blue versus green hydrogen in Wyoming. His detailed summary examined closely the use of Wyoming natural gas and wind resources as they relate to the future of hydrogen. Gamal is pursuing his Ph.D. degree in petroleum engineering, also in the COIFPM.

The 9H Research Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization focused on being a hub for innovation; engaging students with practical research and applied projects; elevating UW; stimulating the local Wyoming economy; and supporting students through awards, internships, competitions, projects and scholarships.

Gene Humphrey, a UW College of Engineering and Applied Science alumnus, funds the foundation. He is a Vietnam War helicopter fighter pilot veteran and the co-founder of International Test Solutions.

Humphrey has contributed more than $733,000 in the last year for the construction of the nonprofit 500-kilowatt solar research facility outside of West Laramie. He has created two scholarship endowments at UW in the names of Roberta Derr and Edna Humphrey, his late sister and late mother, respectively. He also has provided funding to establish the Gene Humphrey Professorship in Engineering at UW.

“We are so grateful to Gene for investing in our students to drive energy innovation and to Paul Bonifas for his help in organizing the competition,” says SER Executive Director Holly Krutka. “We were especially excited that the topic of hydrogen was at the forefront in this year’s competition, as Wyoming is quickly building capacity in this space, including at SER where we have established a Hydrogen Energy Research Center. The students did a tremendous job identifying some novel concepts. We look forward to continued discussions and partnerships with 9H.”

Bonifas is the director of operations for 9H. UW President Ed Seidel and College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Cameron Wright hosted the 9H Research Foundation event.

The energy competition was part of the more than $27,000 awarded by 9H Research Foundation to UW engineering students at the recent program.

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