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Monday, September 24, 2018

Academics & Research

$3.5M grant going toward research


Gov. Rick Perry announced last week that UH has received $3.5 million as part of the Research Superiority Award from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund to create the UH Texas Center for Superconductivity Applied Research Hub.

The grant will be used over a five-year period.

“The University of Houston is a worldwide leader in superconductivity technology, and this grant will help expand its research capabilities while encouraging the commercialization of this promising technology,” Perry said in a press release.

Along with establishing the TcSUH center, the grant will go toward recruiting scientists and researchers.

This project, which includes a partnership of the UH mechanical engineering faculty and leading high-temperature superconductor company Superpower Inc., will result in new materials in science and new technology for high temperature superconductors. The development of intellectual property and technological transfer to commercial products is also in the works.

According to a press release, one of the first goals for the TcSUH-ARH will be to increase collaborative research between UH and SuperPower on the improvement and commercialization of superconducting wire for applications in energy. Both parties believe this research will allow superconductivity products to move into the industry faster.

“The award will be used to build new capabilities in applied research,” chemistry professor Allan Jacobson said. “In the field of energy, the main area is to develop high-temperature superconductor wires that can be used for the transmission of electricity.”

The superconductivity research could also help supply the medical market with applications such as ultra-high field MRIs. The communication markets may also benefit, as advances in superconductivity research contribute to workings of satellite channels and wireless devices.

In addition to the ETF grant, UH has made a financial commitment of $3.8 million to provide research hub space and funding. This funding will be used over a period of three years to jump-start the project.

Superpower Inc. also plans to support this effort by contributing a total of $8.8 million toward research support, equipment for the hub and the creation of a Specialty Product Development and Manufacturing Division in Houston.

“The ETF is extremely prestigious and this is the second ETF award that the University of Houston has received,” communications coordinator Amanda Hosey said. “We are looking to be nationally recognized and nationally competitive. This grant plays the dual role of advancing the field of superconductivity   and getting the University of Houston’s name out there as an active contributor to the field.”

TcSUH strives to transform Houston and the rest Texas into the dominant center for all HTS-based research, development and manufacturing because it would draw more attention from the industry to the Lone Star State.

Donald Birx, UH vice president for research, said the hub would bring together experienced researchers in an effort to translate superconductor products to the energy market and eventually to the medical instrumentation market.

He added that the ETF’s support from was key in developing TcSUH’s capabilities and advancing HTS applications to put UH and Texas at the center of the international stage.

The ETF gives engineering students an opportunity to actively participate and interact with industries such as SuperPower.

The TcSUH Applied Research hub will be housed in Building 4 at the UH Energy Research Park.

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