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UW receives nearly $700K for blue hydrogen, workforce project

Wyoming Innovation Partnership will give the University of Wyoming $693,514 to support a project promoting blue hydrogen, according to a news release the university published Oct. 4.

University of Wyoming (University of Wyoming, UW Alumni Association, Facebook)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Wyoming Innovation Partnership will give the University of Wyoming $693,514 to support a project promoting blue hydrogen, according to a news release the university published Oct. 4.

In 2021, Gov. Mark Gordon created the Wyoming Innovation Partnership to help the state develop a resilient workforce and economy by encouraging collaboration between state-level and local organizations. UW, the state’s community colleges, the Wyoming Business Council and the Department of Workforce Services are part of the group, which plans to build on existing state efforts.

UW faculty and researchers will study issues related to nuclear-powered hydrogen produced from both conventional and renewable gas resources in Wyoming. The project, “Advancing Blue Hydrogen Production and Transport Infrastructure in Wyoming,” launched in September. It will take a year.

“If it’s successful, the team will look to advance the project toward the implementation of longer-term, transformational strategies to help Wyoming,” the release said.

“Blue hydrogen” refers to hydrogen from fossil fuel sources that use carbon capture technology, according to the Wyoming Energy Authority.

The faculty and researchers involved are part of the university’s Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management and the School of Energy Resources. Western Wyoming Community College, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services and Idaho National Laboratory are also participating.

“Hydrogen has a potentially crucial role in Wyoming’s transition to a net-zero emissions economy,” said project leader and University of Wyoming engineering professor Haibo Zhai. “Investment in clean hydrogen can foster new technological and business developments and create job opportunities in the clean energy industry.”

Other principal investigators 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 release said the project is supposed to not only explore whether a hydrogen hub would be successful in Wyoming but also develop an educational and workforce training program for the industry.

Zhai said the mixture of backgrounds and expertise positions the team well for strengthening the state’s ability to train for and be leaders in hydrogen.

“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,” Zhai said.

Holubnyak said “embracing” hydrogen is “a leap” toward strengthening and sustaining Wyoming’s economy.

“As we unlock the potential of hydrogen, it becomes imperative to invest in education and empower our workforce to navigate this transformative era,” he said.

For more information on the project, email Zhai at hzhai@uwyo.edu.

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