The University of Wyoming and nine other institutions have formed a coalition to study how fossil fuels can be used more efficiently and with less environmental impact.
The coalition led by Penn State is being funded by the United States Department of Energy, which recently gave a $20 million grant to the group. The funding will help the schools look further into issues such as carbon storage and natural gas infrastructure.
University of Wyoming Dean of Engineering and Applied Sciences Michael Pishko said the coalition will help secure fossil fuel's future alongside a growing renewable energy market.
"If you look at the way the energy landscape is shaping up, it's really integrating all of those energy sources together because there's pluses and minuses to each respective one," Pishko said.
Pishko also said the fact that the University of Wyoming was included in this coalition shows research done at the university has national significance. Institutions included in this coalition include Texas A&M and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Richard Horner of the University of Wyoming College of Energy Resources said the coalition can help with studying innovations in Wyoming coal beyond just burning it.
"If people start to see it as a valuable resource to make things, then you can start to change the perception of coal being dirty, to being clean," Horner said.
Horner said Powder River Basin coal in particular can be used to make carbon fiber and other valuable products.
Wyoming coal has been losing market share to natural gas and renewable energy in the past few years. Production of Wyoming coal is at its lowest since 1981.