New partnership with university in Abu Dhabi will foster energy research

2009_04_Abudhabi1The University of Minnesota Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science has entered into a partnership with the Petroleum Institute, located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to establish the Abu Dhabi-Minnesota Institute for Research Excellence (ADMIRE).

The Petroleum Institute has awarded the University of Minnesota a $6.1 million grant over the next three years to promote joint research projects between the two institutions and to foster the continued development of academic programs of the Petroleum Institute, specifically their programs in chemical engineering and materials science and engineering.

"They chose the University of Minnesota as a partner because our chemical engineering program is among the best in the world," said University of Minnesota chemical engineering and materials science professor Jeff Derby, who will serve as director of the ADMIRE program. "This partnership is also a great opportunity for us to extend the globalization of our research program and provide new research exchange opportunities for our faculty and students."

2009_04_Abudhabi2A primary goal of the partnership is to establish thriving research projects with an emphasis on energy-related topics. Inter-institutional research groups have been established in the areas of hydrocarbon processing (making of liquid fuel and natural gas), modeling and simulation (mathematical analysis), polymer processing (manufacturing of high-value products made from petroleum), and materials science. Recognizing that petroleum resources will play a vital role in the world's energy portfolio over the next decades, ADMIRE will be at the forefront of making the best use of these limited and increasingly precious resources, while also pursuing innovative projects in the search for energy alternatives of the future.

Through these research projects, faculty and student exchange programs will be established, so that both institutions may benefit from in-residence visits of graduate students, post-doctoral associates, and faculty. About 15 to 20 faculty from each institution will be involved in the research.

Another significant goal of the partnership is to broaden the interaction between the two programs in undergraduate and graduate education, curriculum development, faculty development, and accreditation activities.

2009_04_Abudhabi3"Abu Dhabi is working very hard to modernize its educational system and views this as a vital investment for the future competitiveness of the nation," said Steven Crouch, dean of the Institute of Technology, the University of Minnesota's college of engineering, physical sciences, and mathematics. "For us, ADMIRE represents not only an opportunity to do world-class energy research, but it is also a way for us to really make a difference to promote the international community."

The Petroleum Institute was created in 2001 with the goal of establishing itself as a world-class institution in engineering education and research in areas of significance to the oil and gas and the broader energy industries. Other university partners include the University of Maryland, Colorado School of Mines, Johannes Kepler Universitat Linz in Austria, and Montanuniversitat Leoben in Austria. The Petroleum Institute's sponsors and affiliates include Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and four major international oil companies, including Shell and BP. The campus has modern instructional laboratories and classroom facilities and is now in the planning phase of three major research centers on its campus in Sas Al Nakhl, Abu Dhabi.

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April 21, 2009