Penn State launches ‘world’s premier’ energy center

Pennsylvania State University is gunning to become the global beacon for natural gas research and learning, seeking to fill what the school says is a gap in study of the booming domestic fuel.

Penn State has announced the launch of the Institute for Natural Gas Research, which it plans to develop into “the world’s premier academic institute” on the production, transport and use of natural gas. The school says it also will focus on water and environmental issues related to natural gas development.

The announcement comes amid an energy renaissance in the country, fueled in part by the Marcellus Shale, which spans across Pennsylvania, New York and other Northeastern states.

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The university said the Institute for Natural Gas Research will work closely with the oil and gas industry, with the goal of developing a natural gas-based economy in the United States.

Energy research is a well-established part of Texas’ academic culture.

The University of Texas at Austin supports a number of energy research efforts, including the Energy Institute and the Bureau of Economic Geology. In recent years, the University of Houston established its Energy Research Park. Texas A&M University  follows the industry’s technical developments at its Energy Engineering Institute and Southern Methodist University’s Maguire Energy Institute studies the industry’s marketing and policy issues.

Penn State said the university is seeking a permanent director for its institute. Meanwhile, the center will be co-directed by professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering Turgay Ertekin and professor of chemical engineering Andrew Zydney.