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Published October 04, 2023
The Wyoming Innovation Partnership (WIP) has selected the University of Wyoming to receive $693,514 in support of creating a new hydrogen economy.
The project, “Advancing Blue Hydrogen Production and Transport Infrastructure in Wyoming,” examines the technical, economic, environmental, social and policy issues related to nuclear-powered hydrogen produced from conventional and renewable gas resources in Wyoming.
The project phase will be completed at the end of a 12-month period and is led by faculty and researchers in UW’s Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management and the School of Energy Resources (SER), and in collaboration with Western Wyoming Community College (Western), the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services and Idaho National Laboratory.
“Hydrogen has a potentially crucial role in Wyoming’s transition to a net-zero emissions economy,” says Haibo Zhai, a UW professor and the Roy and Caryl Cline Distinguished Chair in Engineering, who leads the project. “Investment in clean hydrogen can foster new technological and business developments and create job opportunities in the clean energy industry.”
In addition to Zhai, co-principal investigators on the team include Michael Urynowicz, a professor in UW’s Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management; Xiang Zhang, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Eugene Holubnyak, director of UW’s Hydrogen Energy Research Center; Selena Gerace, an associate research scientist in SER’s Center for Economic Geology Research; Amy Murphy, dean of outreach and workforce education at Western; and Richard Boardman, laboratory relationship manager of Idaho National Laboratory’s Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technology Office.
“The diverse backgrounds and expertise represented in this group are extremely advantageous as we advance this project,” Zhai says. “In order for there to be any kind of success for a new hydrogen economy, we must simultaneously address the social impacts and educational infrastructure at all levels as we continue to develop the technology. This team is well positioned to address the training needs essential to putting Wyoming on the leading edge of this energy sector.”
While a major focal point of the project is to explore the potential for the sustainable development of a hydrogen hub in Wyoming, emphasis is placed on developing an educational and workforce training program to accompany a hydrogen industry.
“Embracing the hydrogen future is not just a shift in the energy sector but a leap toward sustainability and potential prosperity for Wyoming,” Holubnyak says. “As we unlock the potential of hydrogen, it becomes imperative to invest in education and empower our workforce to navigate this transformative era.”
The project launched in September. If it’s successful, the team will look to advance the project toward the implementation of longer-term, transformational strategies to help Wyoming.
For more information on the blue hydrogen project, email Zhai at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Wyoming Innovation Partnership
WIP was created at the request of Gov. Mark Gordon in 2021 to modernize and focus Wyoming’s efforts to develop a resilient workforce and economy. The effort aims to better align Wyoming’s economic development agenda by increasing collaborations between state entities and local partners. The partnership involves UW, the state’s community colleges, the Wyoming Business Council and the Department of Workforce Services, with an emphasis on developing innovative solutions that support and enhance Wyoming’s economy, workforce and sources of revenue.
WIP intends to build on and complement existing state efforts in support of Wyoming’s economic development strategy -- Wyoming’s Tomorrow, Learn to Earn, Wyoming Works, WY Next Gen Sector Partnerships, Workforce Development Council, Higher Educational Attainment Executive Council and others -- and recognizes the need for healthy and sustainably funded institutions to do this work.