Current Research & Opportunities

We take a collaborative approach to solve the challenges of the global energy transformation.

The Institute for Energy Innovation engages in useful and collaborative research, involving multiple disciplines within the university as well as stakeholders―policymakers, community members and industry representatives―to identify the relevant issues or challenges that merit further study. 

Our approach to research and training is intentionally co-designed by teams of scientists and engineers along with practitioners and users to address the nation's environmental, societal and economic challenges.

In interdepartmental research, the participating departments bring their distinct perspectives, expertise and methodologies to the table to tackle complex issues that require a multidisciplinary approach. This collaborative effort allows for a broader and more comprehensive exploration of every research topic, as different disciplines contribute complementary insights and approaches toward innovative solutions.

By involving stakeholders from the outset, our work fosters mutual learning and shared knowledge that can lead to more effective and sustainable solutions to complex problems.

 

Research Focus Areas

Carbon capture, utilization and storage/sequestration, or CCUS, is a process that captures carbon dioxide emissions from sources like chemical manufacturing plants, refining and liquefied natural gas production, and either reuses or stores it to prevent it from entering the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide storage in geologic formations includes oil and gas reservoirs, unmineable coal seams and deep saline reservoirs―structures that have stored crude oil, natural gas, brine and carbon dioxide over millions of years. Early areas of research focus for the institute include ensuring the long-term safety and monitoring of injection sites in Louisiana and financial/fee structures for landowners, the state and all parishes with CO2 injection sites.

Hydrogen is a versatile energy carrier that can support the decarbonization of a range of sectors, including transportation, maunufacturing and power generation. In Louisiana, hydrogen is already used in refineries to produce cleaner-burning fuels and in ammonia plants to make fertilizer. CCUS can facilitate the production of clean hydrogen from natural gas or coal, which are the sources of practically all hydrogen production today, and provide an opportunity to bring low-carbon hydrogen into new markets in the near term at least cost. Today, the cost of CCUS-equipped hydrogen production can be around half that of producing hydrogen through electrolysis powered by renewables-based electricity (which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen). The cost of electrolytic hydrogen will certainly decline over time, with cheaper electrolysers and renewable electricity, but CCUS-equipped hydrogen will most likely remain a competitive option in regions like Louisiana with low-cost fossil fuels and CO2 storage resources. 

The institute is actively engaged in research and development in the field of low-carbon fuels, recognizing their significance in addressing pressing energy and environmental challenges. Studies will explore best practices for large-scale deployment in Louisiana and address concerns about impact and viability. 

Louisiana has always been an energy state with its onshore and offshore production of oil and gas, its refineries and chemical plants and, more recently, LNG. These products and sources of energy are critically reliant on transportation by water and via pipelines, thus requiring a balanced and beneficial relationship between energy and our coast. LSU’s renowned Center for River Studies and its sustained partnership with the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority add to our nexus of expertise to consider critical transportation needs in Louisiana while protecting and restoring our coast.

The LSU Institute for Energy Innovation embraces the need to effectively engage with Louisiana communities to understand their perspectives on energy and manufacturing in the state. There are many stakeholders in Louisiana who both care about and are impacted by the production of energy and chemicals. The institute’s mission is to be an independent, trusted, and highly respected voice in the energy transition, in support of policy development on the state, community and parish levels. To deliver on that mission, the institute will develop the means to engage with our community members, elected officials, academic leaders and industry.

The subject of environmental justice is heavily debated in Louisiana and across the United States. Local stakeholders have voiced opposition and general concern about industry practices through a lens of environmental justice. While the term is used often, its definitions and implications are often vague, leading to a lack of cohesive understanding. The EPA region 6 office defines environmental justice as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income, with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. An early institute focus will be to further define environmental justice considerations in Louisiana and propose considerations for stakeholders to better manage environmental justice concerns at the industry, state and parish levels.

Grant & Funding Opportunities

The Institute for Energy Innovation will enable researchers to transcend traditional academic boundaries through an interdisciplinary approach, tackling complex energy challenges from multifaceted perspectives: engineering, chemistry, environmental science, geology, coastal science, economics, public administration, mass communication, policy analysis, law and more. 

Our interdisciplinary approach enables the institute to delve deep into the intricacies of energy systems, exploring not only the technical aspects but also the economic, social and environmental dimensions of energy production, distribution and consumption. By working collaboratively across disciplines, the institute can generate innovative solutions that effectively address the most pressing energy issues of our time.

The institute is currently funding two categories of projects: short-term synthesis projects based on existing data and long-term research and development projects to produce new data and test, develop and demonstrate experimental technologies. 

 

In the Works

The LSU Institute for Energy Innovation is excited to announce it has awarded funds to propel groundbreaking synthesis and experimental research. The Institute celebrates the selected awardees in the first phase of IEI research funds. Read on to learn more about the ongoing research that will shape the future of energy innovation.

 

No. 1: Fee Structures for Landowners, State, and Parishes Associated with CO2 Injection

“ LSU has a wealth of expertise in the legal, science, social science, and engineering fields, and what’s really exciting about this study is that it will involve an interdisciplinary team of LSU professors from across campus, as well as a graduate student studying economics. ”

LSU Law Professor Keith Hall has been granted approximately $98,000 from the LSU Institute for Energy Innovation to study methods for compensating landowners, as well as state and local governments, for carbon capture and storage.

“LSU has a wealth of expertise in the legal, science, social science, and engineering fields, and what’s really exciting about this study is that it will involve an interdisciplinary team of LSU professors from across campus, as well as a graduate student studying economics,” said Hall, who holds the Nesser Family Chair in Energy Law at the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center and also serves as director of both the LSU Mineral Law Institute and the LSU John P. Laborde Energy Law Center. “This project is an example of interdisciplinary collaboration at its best.”

Hall will lead the study, assisted by Professor Greg Upton, interim executive director of the LSU Center for Energy Studies; Professor Joanna... Read more

 

No. 2: Experimental Analysis of Floating Photovoltaic (FPV) Systems in Industrial Wastewater Treatment Ponds for Louisiana Community Resiliency

“ The project will examine using temporary, deployable floating photovoltaic (FPV) systems in non-economic water bodies – such as wastewater treatment ponds and irrigation ponds – to generate renewable energy in disadvantaged communities. ”

Louisiana Sea Grant and LSU AgCenter water quality specialist M.P. Hayes is the recipient of a $500,000, two-year research grant from the Louisiana State University Institute for Energy Innovation (IEI) and the LSU Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED). This research project is in collaboration with Chao Wang (LSU College of Engineering) and Greg Upton (LSU Center of Energy Studies).

As the need for energy infrastructure evolves, science and industry must use available resources to meet increasing demands. The project will examine using temporary, deployable floating photovoltaic (FPV) systems in non-economic water bodies – such as wastewater treatment ponds and irrigation ponds – to generate renewable energy in disadvantaged communities. The first year of the project will compare the energy efficiency of water-cooled FPVs to land-based photovoltaic systems. Data collected will be used to forecast the scalable FPV energy potential in wastewater treatment, industrial oxidation and agricultural... Read more

 

No. 3: Utilizing the Sun for a Sustainable Future in Louisiana

“ With more sunny days than not, Louisiana is poised for large-scale solar deployment that can take this state to 14th place in the U.S. with a projected capacity of nearly 3,500 MW from solar power. ”

Louisiana has more sunny days than the national average, so why not put all of that summer heat to good use? Realizing the potential to harness the Sun’s energy, LSU Bert S. Turner Department of Construction Management Assistant Professor Arup Bhattacharya is researching solar power farming in the state thanks to a $94,000 grant from the Institute for Energy Innovation.

“This proposed project aims to evaluate multiple factors associated with designing, installing, and demonstrating solar farms in urban, open, or unused spaces,” Bhattacharya said. “The project team, consisting of a broad range of expertise and partnered with BASF Corporation, proposes to examine the variables associated with site selection, land reuse, occupant behavior, energy.....Read more.

 

No. 4: Artificial Intelligence-driven Selection of Safe CO2 Injection Sites in Louisiana

“ This grant will support the initiation and development of a dynamic cross-disciplinary and inter-departmental research collaboration that will seek to explore the interconnectedness of multiple critical factors above ground and in the subsurface that have the capacity to influence CCuS site selection within Louisiana. ”

Carbon Capture, utilization and Sequestration technology is shaping up to play an important role in the race to net-zero emissions. And, as an energy hub, Louisiana stands out as a destination for the technology, which is also known as CCuS.

Now, an interdisciplinary team from the LSU Department of Environmental Sciences is helping to ensure the success of CCuS projects in the state, by using artificial intelligence to help select safe, stable sites for the captured carbon to be injected and stored.

DES Professor Supratik Mukhopadhyay, along with Assistant Professor Thomas Douthat, intends to build an AI system that will generate a “heat map” of potential locations around the state, based on a variety of factors. This map will be available to industry, government and the public. State Geologist Clare Falcon, who also serves as the Director of the Louisiana Geological Survey, will also be working on the project... Read more

 

No. 5: Development and Field Demonstration of Distributed Fiber-Optic CO2 Sensor for Long-Term Monitoring of Storage Sites

“ The use of distributed fiber-optic sensors for leak and structural integrity monitoring is very attractive since a single cable can provide spatially- and temporally-continuous measurements and also enable seismic profiling along the entire length of the fiber with no additional electronics in the optical path. ”

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a way of reducing carbon emissions by capturing the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by power generation or industrial activity; compressing and transporting it via pipelines, trucks, or ships; and then storing it deep underground in geological formations, such as saline aquifers or depleted oil and gas reservoirs. While CCS has proven to be mostly safe, there is always a chance of leakage.

Thanks to a nearly $500,000 experimental grant from the LSU Institute for Energy Innovation, LSU Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering Assistant Professor Jyotsna Sharma is leading a team of researchers that includes LSU Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Manas Gartia and collaborators at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) to develop a distributed fiber-optic sensor (DFOS) to monitor CO2 leaks and structural integrity in CCS sites and CO2 pipelines... Read more