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

Researchers hope to make it easier and more affordable for consumers to own natural gas vehicles.

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 Electromechanicsreceived 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 fornatural 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. 

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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