Welch Foundation Supports Green Energy and Sustainability with $240K Grant to Island University

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Working to help further research into sustainable, clean energy resources, Dr. Jai Prakash, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, recently received a $240,000 grant from The Welch Foundation. The Houston-based Welch Foundation is one of the nation's largest private funding sources that supports basic chemical research at academic institutions within the state of Texas.

Prakash’s current study, “Bio-Inspired Multinuclear Manganese Complexes as Water Oxidation Catalysts for Hydrogen Production,” will focus on the development of metal (manganese) clusters that can efficiently catalyze the production of hydrogen gas from readily available water. According to Prakash, hydrogen gas is considered as the most promising fuel of the future because its carbon-free and has high-energy content.

“The world’s growing demand for a clean and renewable source of energy has become one of the major concerns of today’s society,” said Prakash. “Our current energy sources, mostly carbon-based fuels, are not environmentally friendly and are not going to last long – the outcome of this study will provide a sustainable solution to the world’s ongoing energy crisis, and eventually to a clean and healthy environment.”

With $80,000 in funding every year for three years, Prakash says the grant will be spent on student’s stipends – both graduate and undergraduate – chemicals, conference travel, and other research related supplies.

“The highly interdisciplinary nature of my research will promote collaborations within and/or outside the University,” said Prakash. “The students working on this project will receive a broad range of scientific training from synthesis (organic and inorganic compounds) to their characterization, and from spectroscopy to catalysis. Such training will further motivate students toward research, eventually leading to an improved research environment in the campus, and a better placement for them in the STEM workforce nationwide.”

Crediting A&M-Corpus Christi for its continued support of his research, Prakash says earning the grant was not an easy task as he competed against colleagues from across the state. “It’s a highly competitive award and applications were sought from every academic institution including Ph.D. schools within the state of Texas,” said Prakash.

While the research study is currently proposed for three years, Prakash is optimistic that the data it produces will have a last affect far beyond the Island University, continuing to strengthen contributions in intellectual capital beyond our campus.

“I am very hopeful that the outcomes from my proposed research will help the scientific community understand the key reaction steps and will set a benchmark in the field of water oxidation catalysis.”