Energy Research Development Grants

2004 marks the 9th year that the KU Energy Research Center has offered seed funds to KU staff or faculty. Funds are available to develop and expand energy-related research and technology transfer activities in:

A total of 24 projects have received $127,250 in funding since 1996. In fiscal years 2000-2001, these seed funds generated external grants with $520,404 in total expenditures.

Pending available funds, individual proposals up to $10,000 will be considered in this round of funding. Normal funding levels are between $2k and $7k. Historical funding levels range between $2-$12k. Faculty summer salary is not funded. Reviewers will entertain matching funds and other cost-share arrangements.

Application Deadline was April 5, 2004

The goal is to leverage funds to support the development of new research that that can be submitted through the ERC. Additional grant activity submitted through the ERC provides more funds for encouraging new energy-related research.

Types of Proposals Supported:

  1. Seed funds to support development of new ideas and programs.
  2. Assist with travel expenses focused on program development and exploratory research.
  3. Provide limited matching funds on external grants with indirect costs and other opportunities such as GRF.

How to Apply for Funds:
  • (Seed funds) Brief proposal up to eight pages in length describing goals and objective of research, potential innovations, and relation to current applicants energy-related program. Simple budget including amount requested and itemization of requested support. Statements about how research will aid in acquisition of external funding and summary of research in last five years. Copy of abbreviated (2-page) vita/resume.
  • (Travel and Matching Funds) Can be applied for as needed.

Ingredients for a successful proposal: Problem clearly stated, creative and innovative approach, expressed goal to develop externally-funded project, clearly stipulated how funds will be used.

Who Should Apply for Funding: KU staff or faculty conducting energy-related research anticipating that future energy-related proposals will be submitted through the KU ERC by designating KU ERC as administrative unit in your cover page. (Submittal of proposals through ERC will increase funds for additional development funds, but does not affect returned overhead to department or principal investigator.)

Where to Submit Applications: Please submit electronic copy as e-mail with attachments to:

Lynn Watney e-mail: or deliver 3 copies by the KU ERC office:

Energy Research Center
1930 Constant Avenue
Campus West
108 Parker Hall
ph: 864-4445 fax:864-5053

For more information: Lynn Watney ph: 4-2184 or

Funding Decision: Determined by subcommittee of ERC Campus Advisory Board and external reviewers, as needed. Information on previous funding at ERC website:

Seed funds awards given in 2003

Dr. Trung Van Nguyen, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, was awarded $8,000 for his proposal entitled “Characterization of surface ionic activity of proton conducting membrane by conductive atomic force (CAFM)”. Funding from the Energy Research Center will be used to explore the use of a new scanning probe microscopy technique and to obtain some experimental data on the surface ionic activity of a proton conducting membrane. The results will be used to strengthen a revised proposal being submitted to NSF.

Dr. Susan Williams, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, received $8,000 for her proposal entitled, “Determination of the Reaction Mechanism for Authothermal Reforming over Supported Pt Catalysis”. The project is to use isotopically labeled reaction studies to determine the reaction mechanism of the combined steam and CO2 reforming of methane and partial oxidation reactions for syngas generation. The combination of these reactions (authothermal reforming) has the potential to make gas to liquids (GTL) technology a reality providing higher quality liquid transportation fuels from methane. Current barriers to GTL technology are found in the syngas generation step which is the most capital and energy intensive part of the production plant. Therefore, the economic viability of GTL technology depends on optimizing the process for syngas production.

The funds will be used to establish a collaboration with Dr. Fabio Noronha and obtain preliminary data to support the submission of a future proposal.

Dr. K. David Newell, Assistant Scientist at the Kansas Geological Survey, was awarded $2,500 for his proposal entitled, “ Gas Content, Chemical Composition, and Isotopic Analyses of Eastern Kansas Coals and Organic – Rich Shales”. Samples of coal and organic-rich shales will be collected in desorption canisters at a well site and over the subsequent months the volumes of gas these samples gives off will be measured for purpose of determining the coalbed gas resource available. The results of gas-content tests and compositional analysis.

  Associate Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Dr. Russell Ostermann was awarded $2,000 for his proposal “ Nutrient Enhancement for Coal Pre-Treatment and Biogenic Methane Production from Coal and Carbon Dioxide Sequestered in Coalbeds”. There are over 100 bioreactors operating using bacteria obtainend from a “live” coalbed core obtained by the Kansnas Geological Survey and consortia grown from sewage waste on coal samples. These funds will be used to employ a graduate student to study nutrient enhancement of coal pretreatment and methanogenesis of the pretreated coal, and bio-conversion of carbon dioxide to methan in coal bed conditions.

Assistant Scientist, Dr. Susan Nissen received $5,500 for her proposal entitled, “ Determination of the Applicability of Seismic Methods for Identifying Fractures in Eastern Kansas Coalbed Reservoirs”. The project will use seismic modeling to determine the applicability of seismic techniques, such as AVO and multi-component seismic, for characterizing fractures in Kansas coalbed gas reservoirs. ERC funding will be used to obtain well logs providing information about density, compressional- and shear-wave velocities, and fracture intensity and orientation of the coals and surrounding rocks, which will be used as the input to the seismic models. The goals of this investigation will be (1) to determine whether or not individual coal beds in eastern Kansas are seismically detectible, (2) to determine the ability of seismic methods to identify the expected variations in fracture intensity of the coals, and (3) to determine if cleat orientation (and thus preferred directions of permeability) can be identified seismically. If modeling indicates that the seismic methods have the potential for successfully characterizing fractures in eastern Kansas coalbed gas reservoirs, a field-scale 3-D multicomponent seismic study would be proposed to test the model predictions.

Seed fund awards given in 2002

In April 2002 at total of $24,395 in new seed funds was awarded by the KU ERC Campus Advisory Committee as described below.

Dr. Susan M. Stagg-Williams, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering received $10,488 for her proposal, "Photolithographic Patterning of Catalytic Membranes". The project will apply processing techniques currently used in the semiconductor industry to the fabrication of catalytic membrane materials. Success in development would greatly reduce the product variability in catalyst manufacturing by employing a highly reproducible technique. Dr. Stagg-Williams identified four possible future funding opportunities. Previous funding has led to the development of four proposals and a strong research collaboration with a researcher in a national laboratory.

Dr. Trung Van Nguyen, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum, was awarded $11,907 for his proposal titled, "Effect of Catalyst Support Particle Size on PEM Fuel Cell Performance". Funding from the Energy Research Center will be used to develop the catalyst particle size separation process and generate preliminary data on the effect of catalyst support particle size on the performance of PEM fuel cells. These results will then be used to apply for external financial support for this work from the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. The Energy Research Center has provided three grants to the PI: the first grant for $6940 in 1997, which resulted in a three-year, $200,384 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and two major publications in refereed journals, the second grant in 1999 for $9,828 resulted in a three-year, $186,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Andrew B. Whitford, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies will receive $2,000 toward his proposed study, "Collaborative Research in Energy Policy: Grid Access". Dr. Whitford is a new faculty member. Funds will help start two integrated research projects on the state and determinants of grid access in a variety of political and economic institutional settings. The research initiated with these seed funds will help investigate the extent of and basis for grid access by alternative energy providers. This information will aid decision-makers, the alternative energy industry, and research communities.

Previous Years Energy Research Development Grants Seed Fund Awards


March 2004
The URL for this page is
Comments to