Environment
1:27 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

How Natural Gas is Fueling the UT-A&M Rivalry

When Texas A&M left the Big 12, many assumed the rivalry between the Aggies and the Longhorns left with it.

Now the two Texas colleges are facing off again, but this time there’s a chance both schools – and the public –  could win. Yesterday, UT-Austin and Texas A&M were awarded grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop cheaper natural gas vehicles.

UT’s Center for Electromechanics received more than $4 million to engineer new ways to refuel natural gas cars at home.

Shannon Strank is the center’s assistant director. She says the innovation could make the cars more accessible to the public.

“The current technology costs around $5,000 and is fairly mechanically complicated – but what we plan to do is a simpler design that makes the cost go down to about $500 per unit," Strank says.

Texas A&M's College of Science received $3 million to develop tanks for natural gas cars.

“Two of the largest grants ended up going to public universities in the state of Texas," Strank says. "That’s interesting, and I think that’s a promising nod to the state of Texas in the use of natural gas.”

More than $30 million in grant money was awarded by the Department of Energy, in an effort to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

“These innovative projects will leverage the ingenuity of U.S. scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to develop breakthrough technologies to fuel cars with natural gas,”  U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman says in a statement.