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You are here:  State-by-State Project Profiles > Texas

DOE Fossil Energy R&D Projects in Texas


Number of Projects

Total Value*
(Million $)

DOE Share
(Million $)

Job Benefits**

Coal & Power Projects





Oil & Gas Projects***





*Includes DOE and private sector cost-sharing

**An average of 28.5 direct and indirect jobs per $1 million in R&D funding is used based on the Department of Commerce's Regional Input-Output Modeling System II formula.

*** Totals do not include the PTTC Project or the RPSEA Project

Four Texas Universities Studying the Next Generation of Coal and Power System Technologies
  • Adsorbents for Treatment of Ash and Scrubber Ponds - Texas A&M University and the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), College Station, TX, is evaluating the ability of novel adsorbent/reactants to remove arsenic, selenium and mercury from ash and scrubber pond effluents while producing stable residuals for ultimate disposal. Stability after disposal is important so that removal of these compounds from wastewaters will not result in contamination of soils and groundwaters. Methods for reliably and economically producing these materials will be developed. This $200,000 project is being fully funded by DOE.

  • Determining which Saline Aquifers are Suitable for CO2 Sequestration - CO2 sequestration in saline aquifers is maturing from a general concept to one of the most promising options for reducing global warming emissions. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin are developing and then applying criteria to determine the best saline aquifer candidates for long-term CO2 sequestration. This is the next step in making CO2 sequestration a successful component of U.S. emission reduction strategies. DOE is completely funding this $5.76 million project.

  • Membranes for Carbon Dioxide and Hydrogen Gas Separation - The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX, is exploring the use of metal-organic frameworks and mesoporous hybrid silicas in polymer-based mixed-matrix membranes for carbon dioxide and/or hydrogen gas separations. Carbon dioxide and hydrogen separation will be enhanced by combining nanoporous materials, designed specifically to interact with carbon dioxide or hydrogen, with polymers that can withstand high temperatures. DOE is contributing $200,000 to this $225,000 project.

  • Super-High Temperature Alloy Testing - Researchers at the University of Texas - El Paso, will test various alloys for use in super high temperature applications involve temperatures in excess of 1000oC. There is a critical need for the exploration of such materials because the Ni-base super alloys that are used at present have reached their upper temperature limit of 1000 degrees Celsius.  Ternary alloys from Nb-W-Cr system have been selected for the study in this research. The Department of Energy is contributing $200,000 to this $386,500 project.

Companies, Nonprofit, Developing Emissions Controls, Filtration Systems and Advanced Materials for Hydrogen Production
  • Testing of Mercury Oxidation Catalysts/Phase II - This $1.93 million (DOE share: $1.39 million) project being conducted by URS Group, Austin, TX, will test catalysts previously identified as being effective in pilot-scale research, but in two additional plant/coal configurations: Texas lignite with cold-side electrostatic precipitator and wet flue gas desulfurization (FGD), and Eastern low-sulfur bituminous coal with the same control equipment. Besides providing performance data for this new plant/coal configuration, the proposed testing will provide a first opportunity to integrate the oxidation catalyst technology with a new pilot-scale wet FGD absorber. The addition of a pilot-scale absorber will allow determination of the removal efficiency across a wet FGD system of mercury oxidized by up to four different catalysts.

  • Full-Scale Testing of Mercury Oxidation Catalysts - URS Groups is testing at full scale the use of solid, heterogenous catalysts downstream of an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) to promote the oxidation of elemental mercury (Hg0) in coal flue gas, and to demonstrate that catalytically oxidized mercury is removed by a downstream wet flue gas desulfurization (FGD) absorber and ends up in the FGD byproducts. The test is intended to confirm the required catalyst quantities and catalyst life for achieving an average of 70% or greater oxidation of Hg0 in PRB flue gases over a 24-month period. This level of catalyst performance is expected to meet or exceed the solicitation objectives of achieving 50 to 70% mercury removal (beyond the baseline mercury removal at the host site) at a cost that is at least 50% lower than the baseline cost estimate of $60,000/lb of mercury removed. The project host site is in Fayette County, TX.  DOE is contributing $2.30 million to this $4.40 million project.

  • Evaluation of MerCAP for Power Plants - URS Group and its test team will perform research to further develop the novel Mercury Control via Adsorption Process (MerCAP). The general MerCAP concept is to place fixed structures into a flue gas stream to adsorb mercury and then periodically regenerate them and recover the captured mercury. The results of this study will provide data required for assessing the feasibility and estimating the costs of a full-scale MerCAP process for flue gas mercury removal. DOE is contributing $1.11 million to this $1.73 million project.

  • Evaluation of a Cyclone and Hot Gas Filter System - ConocoPhillips Co., Houston, TX, was awarded a $900,000 (DOE share: $720,000) project to evaluate the design and economic benefits of a hot gas hybrid cyclone-filter dry particulate removal system over hot gas filtration systems. The reduced solids loading by use of a cyclone should allow a smaller hot gas filtration system, which would help increase system availability and lower the installed cost, operating cost, and maintenance costs for the next generation of hot gas particulate removal systems.

  • Demonstrate Membranes for Hydrogen Production - Southwest Research Organization, a nonprofit organization based in San Antonio, TX, will develop and demonstrate an ultra-thin (<5 micron) durable ternary Palladium-alloy membrane with excellent resistance to sulfur and halogen attack while meeting or exceeding the hydrogen permeability performance established under our current DOE Hydrogen R&D program. DOE is contributing $1.20 million to this $1.50 million project.

  • Novel Concepts for Compressing CO2 - Southwest Research Institute, a nonprofit organization based in San Antonio, TX, is designing an efficient and cost effective compressor for sequestering IGCC plant carbon dioxide off gases; and, share any spin-off insights that would aid design of IGCC plant turbo machinery air compression. DOE is contributing $175,000 to this $218,000 project.

Universities Account for Significant Portion of DOE Oil and Gas Portfolio in Texas
  • The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, is working on 10 projects with a combined value of $11.70 million (DOE share: $7.19 million). The projects cover a wide variety of topics such as the development of more efficient recovery technologies and improved remediation methods.

    • Mechanistic Understanding of Microbial Plugging - The objective of this $783,000 project (DOE share: $594,000) is the specific understanding of biofilm formation in porous media and its quantitative influence on sweep efficiency in microbial enhanced oil recovery. A better understanding of the processes of microbial growth in porous media will help industry improve sweep efficiency in MEOR-a novel enhanced oil recovery method that has the potential to add reserves and production in America's mature oilfields at low cost and with little environmental impact. Learn more

    • Estimating Gas Hydrates in Deepwater - The principal objective of this $1.0 million project (DOE share: $824,000) is to develop a new methodology for estimating gas-hydrate concentrations in deep-water, near-seafloor strata. The purpose of this research is to create a methodology that will improve the estimation of gas hydrate concentrations in deep-water, near-seafloor strata and that will aid in understanding relationships between seafloor stability and the free-gas to hydrate transitions that occur in marine hydrate systems.  The research will demonstrate how to combine four-component, ocean-bottom-cable (4C OBC) seismic data, high-resolution chirp-sonar data, in-situ seafloor observations, and new rock physics concepts to predict, detect, and map the occurrence of deep-water gas hydrates and to estimate the concentration of hydrate in deep-water environments.

    • Implement Fracture Treatments in Tight Gas Sands - University researchers will develop a fracture design tool that incorporates thermal as well as compositional effects into a fully 3-dimensional hydraulic fracture simulator. The developed simulator will be field tested by optimizing the design and application of energized CO2 fracs in tight gas reservoirs operated by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. It is expected that the developed simulator will significantly expand the use of energized fracs and improve their design and implementation in tight gas sands. DOE is contributing $694,000 to this $1.48 million project. 

    • Polymers for Improving Reservoir Sweep - University researchers will develop a low-cost, pH triggered polymer for use in polymer flooding to improve reservoir sweep efficiency and reservoir conformance in chemical flooding. DOE is contributing $790,000 to this $1.04 million project.

    • Dispersion Study - The objectives of this research are to perform a novel fundamental study of the mechanism of dispersion, to develop an improved multiscale statistical model of dispersion, and to use this information to optimize field scale displacements. Laboratory experiments will be conducted, measuring overall dispersivity (cm scale) by traditional means, and by measuring local dispersivity (micron scale) with novel micro-sensors that can sense solute concentrations in individual pores. This approach has never been tried in the context of understanding the fundamental mechanism of dispersion. This project will employ leading edge micro-sensors to study the fundamental physical basis for hydrodynamic dispersion. The results from the micro-sensor measurements at the pore scale will be used in multiscale models to optimize field applications of carbon dioxide injection for oil recovery. DOE is contributing $800,000 to this $1.0 million project.

    • Novel Cleanup Agents for Membrane Filters - University researchers will develop innovative processes and novel cleaning agents for water treatment facilities designed to remove fouling materials and restore micro-filter and reverse osmosis (RO) membrane performance. DOE is contributing $576,000 to this $721,000 project.

    • Characterization of Imbibition and Wettability Phenomena - The objectives of the project are to develop methods for obtaining realistic configurations of two immiscible fluids as a function of wettability and geologic characteristics and use these fluid configurations as a basis for predicting and explaining macroscopic behavior, including the relationship between relative permeability, wettability and laboratory and log measurements of magnetic resonance and broadband dielectric response.  DOE is contributing $525,000 to this $782,000 project.

    • Integrated Synthesis of the Permian Basin - University researchers will produce a detailed, comprehensive analysis and history of Paleozoic depositional and reservoir systems in the Permian Basin, and create spatially integrated databases of depositional, stratigraphic, lithologic, and petrophysical properties for selected reservoir plays and stratigraphic horizons. DOE is contributing $800,000 to this $1.1 million project. 

    • Imaging Super-Deep Gas Plays - The University of Texas at Austin will evaluate a new marine seismic technology able to image gas resources to depths that have not been possible with previous gas-exploration marine seismic data.  The key requirement for seismic imaging of deep-gas targets is a field geometry that creates source-receiver offsets equal to or greater than the target depth.  This project will analyze data acquired in the Gulf of Mexico with ocean-bottom-cable technology that enables data to be recorded at offsets of up to 30,000 feet.  The four-component sensors used in the technology can improve the geologic characterization of gas resources embedded in deep, overpressured regimes, potentially identifying a significant new gas resource base. DOE is contributing $985,000 to this $2.99 million project. 

    • Assessment of Hydrocarbon Reservoirs - The objectives of the proposed research work are: to develop the necessary computer algorithmic and software infrastructure to jointly invert borehole seismic and electromagnetic data into 3D spatial distributions of petrophysical properties (e.g. porosity, permeability, and fluid saturations); evaluate specific configurations for deep-sensing borehole electromagnetic and seismic instruments; and evaluate the inversion algorithms on synthetic reservoir models constructed from paradigms of highly- laminated sands, tight (low porosity and low permeability) reservoirs, dual-porosity carbonates, and naturally fractured formations. Some of the synthetic reservoir models will be based on actual hydrocarbon reservoir models and data thereof provided to us by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Unocal Corporation. DOE is contributing $600,000 to this $800,000 project.

  • Texas A&M University and its Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), both located in College Station, TX, are working on two projects with a combined value of $2.82 million (DOE share: $1.87 million). They include developing new drilling fluids and improving reservoir characterization.

    • Field Testing of Environmentally-Friendly Drilling Systems -  Objectives of this $2.21 million project (DOE share: 1.44 million) are to: 1) incorporate current and emerging technologies into a clean drilling system with no, or very limited, environmental impact on land, water, and air; 2) identify low impact transportation technologies to and from well sites; 3) test and demonstrate a viable drilling system that could be used for the exploration and exploitation of natural gas primarily in the lower 48 states; and 4) create a joint venture of industry academic and government partners to assess methods to mitigate individual costs and develop an industry acceptance of an entire viable system to accomplish this task.

    • Integrating Data for Characterizing Reservoirs - University researchers are developing a systematic procedure and workflow for dynamic data integration for improved reservoir characterization. The approach will identify the discrepency between geologic model and production data and allow for rapid updating of reservoir description using inverse modeling.  A concurrent objective is to assess the uncertainty in reservoir parameters and rock flluid properties at various scales.  The results will help to oil recovery by locating reservoir features such as flow channels, barriers and reservoir compartmentalization that result in bypassed oil. DOE is contributing $429,000 to this $609,000 project.

  • Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, TX, is participating in DOE's Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program. The university is working on one fully-funded project to investigate several methods to better characterize reservoirs.

    • Improving Reservoir Characterization Through Seismic Data - This fully DOE-funded $200,000 project will improve reservoir characterization by using seismic data. Improved reservoir characterization will allow operators to determine the most appropriate recovery technology to use in a given situation.

  • The University of Houston, Houston, TX, is the site of two projects with a combined value of $796,000 (DOE share: 638,000).

    • Improvement of Sweep Efficiency in Gas Flooding - Miscible and near-miscible gas flooding has proven to be one of the few cost-effective enhance oil recovery techniques in the past twenty years. The sweep efficiency of such processes is often not high because of the adverse viscosity ratio and density difference between the solvent gas and the oil, as well as the reservoir heterogeneity. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the sweep efficiency of various miscible flooding processes
      in a laboratory model, develop numerical tools to estimate sweep efficiency in the field-scale; and identify solvent composition, mobility control methods, and well architecture to improve sweep efficiency and ultimate oil recovery. DOE is contributing $618,000 to this $776,000 project.

    • Detecting Underlying Oil Reservoirs - Researchers at the University of Houston are developing and implementing a methodology for using remote sensing imagery to identify and map alteration zones caused by hydrocarbon microseepage in the Patrick Draw area of southwest Wyoming. DOE is fully funding this $20,000 project.

  • Characterizing Gas Hydrates - Baylor University, Waco, TX, is evaluating the direct-current electrical resistivity (DCR) method for remotely detecting and characterizing the concentration of gas hydrates in the deep marine environment by adapting existing DCR instrumentation for use on the seafloor in the deep marine environment and testing of the new instrumentation at Mississippi Canyon Block 118, Gulf of Mexico. DOE is contributing $253,000 to this $322,000 project. 

Industry Projects Promoting Oil and Gas Technology
  • Time Lapse Seismic Monitoring - Schlumberger Technology Corporation, Houston, TX, is working on this $9.06 million (DOE Share: $1.97 million) project to develop: 1) a Phase I study to characterize the reservoir using advanced evaluations methods including petrophysical, geophysical, geological, reservoir engineering, simulation,  and surveillance technologies, such that an assessment of the CO2 flood potential can be performed, and 2) a Phase II study to demonstrate the benefits of using advanced seismic acquisition, processing, interpretation methods, and horizontal wells for monitoring CO2 flood fronts. 

  • Characterizing Natural Gas Hydrates - Chevron, Bellaire, TX, is working on a project involving natural gas hydrates development. The primary activities of this $44.37 million project (DOE share: $33.97 million) will be to collect data, as well as to develop models and processes, that allow the scientific community to better characterize the natural gas hydrates in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The information generated will provide a better understanding of how natural gas hydrates can affect sea floor stability, provide data that can be used by scientists in their studies of climate change, and provide data to assess if and how gas hydrates act as a trapping mechanism for shallow oil or gas reservoirs.

  • Quantifying Gas Hydrates - Rock Solid Images, Houston, TX will develop new methods to assess methane hydrate distribution using 3D seismic data calibrated to well bore data. DOE is contributing $959,000 to this $1.19 million project.

  • Seismic Technology Development - Vecta Exploration, Inc., Dallas, TX, is developing a new seismic technology that will improve the exploration for stratigraphic traps. The new seismic technology will be tested on the Mission Canyon oolitic limestone stratigraphic traps in the Williston Basin of the Rocky Mountain Frontier.  This technology involves the acquisition of 9-C seismic data that will allow independent P, SH, SV, and C images of geologic targets to be constructed.  The integrated use of these images provides more seismic-sequence and seismic-facies information than does conventional P-wave seismic technology.  Two verification wells will be drilled in the Williston Basin to prove the validity of the stratigraphic-trap interpretations generated from these 9-C seismic data. DOE is funding $1.2 million of this $3.2 million project.

Oil Field and Drilling Demonstrations in Texas
  • Optimization of Secondary Oil Recovery Processes - Strand Energy, L.C., Houston, TX, is comparing secondary oil recovery processes in a declining Arkansas oil field to identify the most efficient and economical process for continuing operations. DOE has provided $75,000 for this $387,000 project.

Other Oil and Gas Projects in Texas
  • Advanced Sealed Bearing Assembly - Kalsi Engineering, Inc., Sugarland, TX is developing the sealed bearing assembly technology for microhole drilling with Positive Displacement Motors. DOE is fully-funding this $744,000 project.

  • High Power Turbodrill and Drill Bit - Technology International, Inc., Kingwood, TX is  developing and testing an effective downhole drive mechanism and a novel drill bit for drilling with coiled tubing. The high-power turbodrill will deliver efficient power at relatively high revolutions per minute and low bit weight. The more durable drill bit will employ high-temperature cutters that can drill hard and abrasive rock in 3-1/2 inch boreholes. DOE is contributing $800,000 to this $1.0 million project.

  • Development of Low-Cost Drilling System - Noble Wellbore Technologies, Sugarland, TX, is developing and commercializing a 6-1/2 inch rotary-steerable system (RSS) capable of drilling 7-7/8 inch to 9-7/8 inch hole sizes at conventional pressures and temperatures (20,000 psi/150-175 degrees Celsius) that reduces operating costs by a minimum of 50% and lost-in-hole charges by at least 50% over currently offered systems. The proposed reduction in costs are to be realized through a significant reduction in tool complexity, a corresponding increase in tool reliability as expressed in mean-time between failure (MTBF), and a reduction in time and costs required to service tools after each field job. DOE is contributing $877,000 to this $1.52 million project. 

  • Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Program Administration - The nonprofit organization Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, Sugarland, TX, will establish and coordinate a public benefit research program to identify and develop new methods and integrating systems for exploring, producing, and transporting-to-market energy, or other derivative products from natural gas, in Ultra-deepwater and Unconventional Onshore Hydrocarbon Resources. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established a natural gas supply research and development program associated with these Resources to be funded over the next 10 years. As the consortium chosen to manage these funds, RPSEA will sharply focus its experience, expertise, and capabilities on meeting the program's objectives:  to maximize the value of domestic natural gas and oil resources through new technologies to increase production, and to do so in less expensive, safer and more efficient and environmentally benign ways.  DOE is contributing $356 million to this $364 million, 10-year program. Funds will likely be used in and beyond the state of Texas. Learn More >

  • Targeted Technology Transfer for U.S. Independents - The nonprofit organization Petroleum Tech Transfer Council, Houston, TX, will manage the main outreach program for U.S. independent oil and gas producers, fully develop its technology transfer in all areas of the country, expand its role as liaison between the R&D community and independents, and implement a viable plan for PTTC's long-term survival. DOE currently funds $8.8 million of this $13.9 million activity. Learn More >


 Page owner:  Fossil Energy Office of Communications
Page updated on: July 20, 2009 

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