Today@Sam Article

Biological Sciences Receives Grant From Coastal Chemical

Jan. 18, 2018
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Haney

DSC1538.jpg3In collaboration with Sam Houston State University, Coastal Chemical Company is lending its support to the department of Biological Sciences for more than $100,000 in grant funding, equipment and labor in an attempt to devise a cost-effective and ecofriendly method that would reduce the level of oxygen from natural gas streams.

Natural gas streams contain various impurities, oils and unwanted gases including oxygen. Overtime, oxygen corrodes gas containing vessels and the oxidative environment produces other byproducts like organic acids that adversely affect the life of natural gas solvents such as amines and glycols. Therefore, oxygen poses a serious problem for oil and gas industries.

For this reason, Coastal Chemical chose to fund research activities and newly designed equipment to a deserving educational institution to perform the experiment. Associate Professor Madhusudan Choudhary and his student research team were selected to participate in the partnership out of multiple other universities because of the quality of their research proposal, the accessibility of the SHSU department of biological science’s facilities and equipment, which were judged during previous on-site visits, and the overall merit of the program.

In an official laboratory launch on Dec. 14, representatives from SHSU and Coastal Chemical demonstrated the equipment. Through consultations, basic operating parameters were selected to develop a “proof of concept” for a proposed Coastal product, which would reduce oxygen in natural gas streams.

“It was great to interact with the people from Coastal Chemical Company. We set up the instrumentation and reactor in my laboratory. We had five natural gas vessels with different cocktails of gases and oxygen concentration to be tested. Our four undergraduate students were very active in setting and operating the protocols necessary for the growth of micro-organisms, the loading of the reactor and monitoring the samples,” Choudhary said.

Lab Launch mainIf successful, their investigation will provide the mechanical design, fabrication and the operating protocol for this new cost-effective technology. Additionally, if the team is able to reduce some significant level of oxygen from the natural gas feed, Coastal Chemical will be able to profit greatly from the application of this new technology. Coastal Chemical projects that it will take approximately one year to a see the complete results of the experiment and begin phase two.

“It is a great adventure to work on a highly impactful and collaborative project with Coastal Chemical Company. Competing for this grant and becoming successful for the award make us very happy and proud,” Choudhary said. “This grant will enhance the industrial and economic successes of the oil and gas industry.”

In addition to serving a role in the future of the oil and gas industry, the project also allows for SHSU students to actively participate and contribute to the scientific community in a controlled and supervised environment. 

“Getting the opportunity to participate in this project and knowing it can potentially help people in the future really inspires me to work hard,” student researcher, Noah Zavala said. “I also admire learning the different aspects of biology beyond the scope of the classes I have taken. Each day I come in I learn new applications that allow me to enhance my knowledge in the field.”

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