UT takes leading role on major potential energy source, methane hydrate

I want to share with you a very important development. UT Austin recently received a research grant of $58 million to head a team studying methane hydrate, a substance found in abundance beneath the ocean floor and under Arctic permafrost. The U.S. Department of Energy is providing more than $41 million, with the remainder coming from industry and research partners. The fact that this is one of the largest research grants in the University’s history is certainly noteworthy, but the real excitement comes from the potential developments from the study itself.

Methane hydrate is an ice-like solid compound that forms in low-temperature and high-pressure environments where molecules of methane, a chief constituent of natural gas, are trapped within a lattice structure of water molecules. The worldwide energy implications are huge: within the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, where the team will be sampling, there is estimated to be 7,000 trillion cubic feet of methane hydrate, more than 250 times the amount of natural gas used in the United States in 2013. You can read more here.

I’m proud of our scientists at the Institute for Geophysics in the Jackson School of Geosciences for their leadership.

What starts here changes the world.
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UT Charges Ahead with Major Supercomputing Grant

On Thursday I was out at UT’s Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) on the J.J. Pickle Research Campus to help announce a major award from the National Science Foundation. TACC has received a $27.5 million grant to commence work in partnership with Dell and Intel to build the next generation supercomputer “Stampede” for open-science research. The NSF is expected to invest $50 million over four years in this landmark project. Congratulations to TACC director Jay Boisseau and his entire team at TACC!

For those of you who would like to hear more about this project, here’s a short video of Jay discussing Stampede.

This grant solidifies UT’s role as one of the world’s supercomputing hubs. Although the advanced computing that these systems enable is a scientific and engineering feat in itself, the true significance of this project can be found in the expansion of knowledge and innovation that this computational power makes possible. It would be much faster to list the areas that advanced computing does not affect than to try and list every one that it does. Advanced computing aids our design of everything from vehicles to new medical technologies and helps us better predict weather patterns, the effects of natural disasters, and climate change. Stampede will enable research on more than 1,000 projects across the nation and across disciplines, promoting collaboration and problem solving at UT and beyond.

This project exemplifies the TACC motto: UT is “Powering Discoveries that Change the World.”

Hook ’em,

Bill's Signature