Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

UT collaborates with hydrogen energy hub

Ana Campos

The University is partnering with a new regional energy center, the HyVelocity Hub, to help bring the benefits of hydrogen energy to local communities vulnerable to pollution, the University announced on Oct. 13. 

The University will work with seven core industry partners and over 90 other partners across fields to ensure HyVelocity decreases fossil fuel reliance in several sectors of the economy. UT researchers will make sure future projects are economically viable and have positive impacts on surrounding areas.

Funded by the Department of Energy’s $7 billion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investment, the hub will build on existing hydrogen infrastructure in Texas and Louisiana. As part of the Biden administration’s overarching Justice 40 initiative, 40% of the overall benefits from the hub will reach vulnerable communities.

Some possible benefits from the Hub include job creation, air quality improvement and investment into local communities, said Brian Korgel, director of the UT Energy Institute.

“We’re thinking ahead and saying, ‘Once these facilities are up and running, what are the kind of skills that the workforce is going to need there?’ and then trying to match those skills with opportunities for people in nearby communities,” Korgel said.

Many of the communities HyVelocity will impact are already subject to health concerns, such as asthma, from other pollution sources like trucking and factories, said Michael Lewis, an engineering scientist who leads Hydrogen Energy Systems Research at the Center for Electromechanics.

“As clean hydrogen production comes into use in the region, that could lead to some near-term health impacts which can likely be quantified pretty easily,” Lewis said.

The HyVelocity Hub aims to reduce fossil fuel dependence beyond household energy consumption. It will also decarbonize other industries like transportation, manufacturing and agriculture, said Sergio Castellanos, a civil, architectural, and environmental engineering assistant professor.

“Different regions have the potential to tackle different aspects of the hydrogen economy, which is the exciting thing that I see,” Castellanos said.

Before the HyVelocity Hub came together, several of the same industrial partners worked with the University in 2020 on the H2@Scale Project, a smaller version of the current hub, Lewis said. The H2@Scale Project envisioned what the larger hub would look like and created models for how to expand energy infrastructure on a larger scale.

“The ‘What Starts Here Changes the World’ motto of UT really applied to this project,” Lewis said. “What I’m most proud of in getting this HyVelocity (Hub together) is that our early work here led to something much bigger.”

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