UT Energy Bulletin | June 2022

Energy@UT News

UT Materials Scientists Continue Innovation on Harvesting Water from Air

A low-cost gel film developed at UT Austin “could allow millions of people without consistent access to drinking water to have simple, water generating devices at home that they can easily operate,” said project lead Professor Guihua Yu.
Read more at UT News.
TEDxUTAustin – The Dual Challenge: Energy and Environment

Scott Tinker, Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology and State Geologist of Texas, recently spoke to an audience of over 1,000 students about how to think about providing affordable and reliable energy for a growing global community while also protecting the environment for everyone. View the talk on YouTube.
H2@Scale in Texas and Beyond

Mike Lewis, a senior engineering scientist at the Center for Electromechanics and the Principal Investigator for the DOE H2@Scale project, discussed the project’s comprehensive hydrogen hub plan for Texas on a recent episode of The Hydrogen Podcast.
Dean Roger Bonnecaze to Lead Cockrell School of Engineering to the Next Level

Prof. Roger Bonnecaze has been named Dean of the Cockrell School as of June 1. “The school is poised to become the highest-impact public engineering school, and I am excited to build on the foundation of successes laid by Provost Wood,” he said as the appointment was announced.
News from Around Campus  
  • Cockrell School – Webber Energy Group: Emily Beagle unpacked the Biden administration’s recent freeze on new solar tariffs for The Conversation.
  • Center for Electromechanics: Bob Hebner made the case for a balanced, commonsense approach to grid reliability in his recent op-ed for the San Antonio Express News
  • Energy Institute: Dave Tuttle urged caution in response to ERCOT’s guarantees about reliability: "if we are already hitting records (for peak electricity demand) now, we know we are going to hit even more records in the next few months." Read more in the Austin American-Statesman.
  • Cockrell School – Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering: Hugh Daigle spoke with NPR’s Marketplace about why current high prices are not enough to overcome continued fallout from the pandemic and extreme weather events. Read or listen to the story.
  • McCombs School of Business: Ehud Ronn discussed the impact interest rate increases are likely to have on gas prices and the economy in general on KRIS TV in Corpus Christi, TX.
  • Cockrell School – Mechanical Engineering: Michael Webber spoke with the San Antonio Business Journal about renewable energy’s role in powering Texas, saying “we do renewable energy at a larger scale than entire countries." Read the story.
  • LBJ School: Varun Rai spoke with about how lessons learned in the aftermath of the 2021 Texas Blackouts can inform decisions about how to design more resilient electric grids, even as increasing electrification makes these systems ever more complex. Listen to the podcast (interview starts at 16:00).
  • Cockrell School – Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering: Arvind Ravikumar joined fellow energy researchers Sara Hastings-Simon of the University of Calgary and Shuting (Lydia) Yang of the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in urging skepticism around calls for LNG as a climate solution. Read their piece for CBC/Radio-Canada.
  • Jackson School of Geosciences: Dev Niyogi collaborated with an international team of researchers to model likely impacts of climate change on “processing tomatoes,” the variety used for ketchup and other tomato products. Read more at
  • Energy Institute | Cockrell School: Carey King and Michael Webber shed light on the question of whether Biden administration policies are to blame for rising electricity prices in Texas in the Austin American-Statesman.
  • Cockrell School – Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering: Kara Kockelman spoke with NewsNation about the decline of the internal combustion engine, the future of EVs, gas prices and electricity demand. View the conversation.
  • College of Natural Sciences – Molecular Biosciences: Andrew Ellington suggests Styrofoam-eating “superworm” may be a better fit for home composting of plastics than for industrial applications. Read more in The Seattle Times.
  • Bureau of Economic Geology: Michael Young spoke to the AAPG Explorer about the Comparing Electricity Options research consortium, a new study to identify unintended consequences of the ongoing transition away from fossil fuels. Read more.
  • Cockrell School – Mechanical Engineering: Michael Webber spoke with the Texas Standard about three reasons we need new power plants and three things we need to do to build the electric grid Texas needs. Read more.
  • LBJ School: Martin Luby’s opinion piece in the Austin American-Statesman warned that strong oversight is needed to protect ratepayers’ interests as debt from Winter Storm Uri is financed. Read the op-ed.
  • Cockrell School – Mechanical Engineering: Michael Webber and Joshua Rhodes spoke with CNN and KUT Radio about the positive impact of renewables in ERCOT during the recent heat wave in Texas. Learn more at and
  • LBJ School | Cockrell School: Research by Josh Busby and Ben Leibowicz informs reporting on the politics of green energy in the U.S. at
  • Cockrell School – PGE | ME: Hugh Daigle and Arvind Ravikumar shed some light on the political fight over why gas prices are increasing and how to insulate the U.S. from future price volatility. Read their comments in PolitiFact.
  • Cockrell School: Kara Kockelman spoke with KIII TV in Corpus Christi, Texas, about the impact of electric vehicle charging on the electric grid, explaining that ERCOT is well-prepared for off-peak charging of large numbers of EVs. Read or watch the story.
  • Energy Institute | Cockrell School: The Energy Institute-led study, The Timeline and Events of the February 2021 Texas Electric Grid Blackouts, and quotes from UT professor and grid expert Michael Webber were cited in a recent discussion of renewables’ contribution to meeting extremely high demand for electricity during the current heatwave in the ERCOT service area. Read the piece at
Upcoming Events

PIVOT2022: All Hands on Deck
July 25-29, Virtual/In-Person Hybrid

Join the international geothermal community to dig into how to get geothermal on an exponential growth curve through disruptive innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and bold action. Click for more info.

Apply to the Longhorn Impact Fellowship at Texas (LIFT)

Juniors, seniors, or graduate students interested in creating a more sustainable world may apply to become an impact consultant with the Longhorn Impact Fellowship at Texas (LIFT). Applications to join the Fall 2022 cohort are open now through July 15th. Apply Here.

China LNG, Gas & Hydrogen Summit – August 3-5, 2022

The University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute has been chosen as the official Academic Institute Partner for China LNG, Gas & Hydrogen 2022. The international summit will convene stakeholders across the LNG value chain in Beijing, August 3-5, 2022. Read more.

Save the Date:
February 24-25, 2023 

ClimateCAP: The Global MBA Summit on Climate, Capital, & Business is an annual event that brings MBA students and industry leaders together to learn what every MBA needs to know about the business implications of climate change. It's also a platform for resources for learning more. Learn more.

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