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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Academics & Research

Scholars dissect energy during conference at UH

The 14th Annual Scholarship and Community Conference was held Friday at the UH Hilton to discuss the future of energy in Houston. | Neal Dasgupta/The Daily Cougar

The 14th annual Scholarship and Community Conference was held Friday at the UH Hilton Hotel, where scholars discussed the future of energy.

The scholars presented plans to meet the demand for energy in the future and discussed traditional energy sources, as well as possible alternative energy.

Geology professor Janok Bhattacharya talked about his company, Deltaic Systems, and stated that new technology will not hinder the importance of energy sources.

“Despite all the importance of new technologies that will be required, they will never replace (energy sources),” Bhattacharya said. “They will simply augment our continued reliance on fossil fuels, coal and natural gas.”

Chemical and biochemical engineering professor Michael Harold discussed ways to improve traditional energy sources by increasing utilization of diesel.

“We’ve been working with the diesel center for about three years, and that spawned from a grant from the city of Houston and then a larger grant from the state of Texas,” Harold said. “Diesel fuel has not been an alternative energy source, but it’s a good energy source. It’s more efficient, and our role is to develop new technology to make it cleaner.”

While most of the scholars agreed that the current energy sources are valuable, several scholars said they believe that alternative and more efficient energy sources could be utilized.

Allan Jacobson, the director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity and the Center for Materials Chemistry, presented plans that will make superconductivity a focal point of energy sources.

“UH is involved in our plans through the Superconductivity Center and because we have a major effort in the (center) to advance high power cables using superconductors that were discovered here to transmit large watts of power on the electricity grid,” Jacobson said. “That’s the biggest thing that we’re involved in.”

Jacobson said that the center plays an even more significant role in energy development for the future.

“Four years ago, we set up a separate division in energy research, and we brought in a number of other programs into that area outside of superconductivity,” Jacobson said. “Most recently, we started something called the Applied Research Hub, which is designed primarily to advance applications of high temperature superconductors. It’s also set up in a way that will advance applications of other energy areas in conjunction and cooperation with industry.”

The conference featured a speech by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who commended UH President Renu Khator and discussed Houston’s importance as a top energy provider.

“Here we are in Houston, the energy capital of the world, because we have people here who really dedicate their lives in the pursuit of energy. Not only here in the U.S., but around the world,” Dewhurst said.

UH Assistant Vice President for University Services Emily Messa said that UH also looks to be an energy giant because of its recent success of receiving high marks as an environment-friendly campus.

“UH, I am proud to say, was named among the nation’s most environmentally responsible universities by the Princeton Review this week,” Messa said. “So, I am proud to say that the future of UH looks green, and we will continue to be a leader in sustainability and energy.”

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