Texas Tech University

Team Heads to Austin for Energy Innovation Challenge

George Watson

April 30, 2015

The competition is designed to develop solutions to water use from hydraulic fracturing.

A team of four Texas Tech University students will compete against teams from other state colleges in the 2015 Texas Energy Innovation Challenge sponsored by Power Across Texas.

Sponsored by faculty representative Danny Reible, the Donovan Maddox Distinguished Engineering Chair and professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering, the Texas Tech team consists of Ebru Unal, a doctoral student in the Department of Petroleum Engineering; James Urban, a master's student in the Rawls College of Business; Ritesh Sevanthi, a doctoral student at Texas Tech; and Soraya Honarparvar, a doctoral student in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

They will compete Friday (May 1) at the state capitol building against teams from the University of Texas-El Paso, Texas A&M, the University of Houston and the University of Texas. They will present to a panel of judges solutions for the 2015 Texas Energy Innovation Challenge (TEIC), to research, evaluate and develop the most creative and economic use for water resulting from hydraulic fracturing of wells, whether that solution includes recycling, disposal or discharge.

Related: Results of the Energy Innovation Challenge - May 1, 2015

Reible said the Texas Tech team has been working all semester to find a way to make the water reusable, especially considering the resource's importance in this part of the state.

“This water can be a small but important piece of the overall Texas water puzzle, particularly in parched West Texas,” Reible said. “The task was made difficult by the poor quality of this water, primarily because of the high salt content, often triple that of seawater, found in these subsurface formations.”

The TEIC was created to challenge graduate students from interdisciplinary academic programs to develop research and imagination to solve existing energy problems in Texas. Participants create both written proposals and oral presentations with their research solutions.

Judges for the competition represent an array of businesses related to the subject, from recycling and water resource businesses to shale and oil gas exploration companies.

The competition is sponsored by Power Across Texas, a statewide non-profit organization based in Austin that uses academic, political and private resources to host initiatives hoping to advance solutions to energy issues across the state.