Licensing Agreement Taps Fuel of the Future

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One of the University’s brightest ideas should soon yield real-world results. UT Arlington recently signed a licensing agreement with 1st Resource Group to commercialize a conversion unit that transforms natural gas from the field into clean-burning synthetic fuels. Designed by University researchers, the portable unit can be easily moved from one gas well to the next. 1st Resource President and CEO Douglas McKinnon says his firm approached UT Arlington to determine if such a product could be developed. “The researchers proved it was possible,” he says. “This process starts to solve the rising transportation costs we all face.” 1st Resource plans to deploy the units in domestic and international gas fields to yield synthetic jet fuels and diesel. The application is expected to be particularly useful in stranded gas fields, on sites where natural gas must be vented or flared, and during times when it is not economically viable to move gas to a pipeline. Gary Fewell, the company’s chief operations officer, says the portability of the system makes it attractive. “When you have a rancher sitting on a natural gas well and that gas can be converted to an energy source like jet fuel, he’s suddenly sitting on a gold mine.” Fewell believes the cost savings in transporting the jet fuel could be substantial, as the conversion happens at the natural gas well site and doesn’t require additional refining steps like oil does. For UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo, the licensing agreement represents an important achievement in the University’s relationship with business and industry. “This advancement demonstrates how university research can respond to market demands,” he says.

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