Texas Tech Engineering Receives $1.75 million in NSF Grants

Recent grants boost research in many areas of engineering.

Texas Tech University’s Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering has garnered about $1.75 million in grants recently from the National Science Foundation. Two of the nine awards are NSF rapid response grants to support research related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. One seeks to lengthen the life of wind turbines, reducing the cost of wind energy. “The Whitacre College of Engineering is very proud of the efforts of our talented faculty that have led to the recent upsurge in research support from the National Science Foundation,” said Jon Strauss, interim dean of the college. “NSF funding is extremely competitive and only investigators with the most novel and transformative ideas are able to receive funding from this agency.” Daan Liang, assistant professor of engineering technology, received more than $100,000 to acquire a Field Spectroscopy Environmental Analysis System to enable collection of highly perishable data on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The system allows researchers to measure solar reflectance of the oil spill in various physical forms, such as sheen, patch and tar balls; and at various sites such as deep water, shallow water, marshes and beaches – without disrupting the site. In conjunction with hyper-spectral images from satellites and/or aircraft, researchers could accurately map the extent of the spill, remotely estimate oil slick thickness, assess the quantity of tar balls and detect the presence of oil in complex, environmentally sensitive ecosystems. Karlene Hoo, professor of chemical engineering, received more than $39,000 to support research on a material to absorb crude oil. The research involves combining the absorption properties of natural-based plastics made from sorghum with existing technology to shape it into a porous sponge-like material to be used to remove crude oil spilled in a seawater environment. Xinzhong Chen, assistant professor of civil engineering and a researcher in the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, received more than $240,000 to develop advanced modeling and simulation approaches for accurately measuring extreme and fatigue responses of large-scale wind turbines. The findings will help improve current turbine design standards and develop state-of-the-art tools for assessing turbine performance under various wind conditions, which can lead to enhanced efficiency for energy generation. Other recent NSF grants to the Whitacre College of Engineering include: Vittal Rao, professor of electrical and computer engineering, received $415,000 for “MRI - Development of Real Time Simulator for Smart Grid Systems Integrated with Distributed Renewable Energy Sources.” The project aims to design and develop a smart grid real-time simulator that integrates renewable energy power sources, storage options, self-healing capabilities and cyber security with power distribution and communication networks. Sukalyan Bhattacharya, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, $73,082 for “Radial Migration of Suspended Particles and its Effect on Multispecies Flow Inside a Conduit.” Micah Green, assistant professor of chemical engineering, $174,746 for “Liquid-phase Nanotechnology: Dispersion, Rheology, and Applications of Pristine Graphene.” Yuanlin Zhang, assistant professor of computer science, and Michael Gelfond, professor of computer science, $300,062 for “RI: Small: Integrating Logic Based Declarative Programming Paradigms.” Hongxing Jiang, Edward E. Whitacre Jr. Endowed Chair and professor of electrical and computer engineering, $200,000 for “ARI-MA: Collaborative Research: Hexagonal Boron Nitride Based Neutron Detectors.” Mark Holtz, director of the Nano Tech Center, $210,000 for “Collaborative Research: Vertical GaN Nanostructures on Silicon Fins for Power Electronics and Future Integration with Silicon Technology.” Find Texas Tech news, experts and story ideas at www.media.ttu.edu. CONTACT: Jeff Sammons, senior editor, Whitacre College of Engineering,(806) 742-3451 or jeff.sammons@ttu.edu.