Dave Allen Recognized with Leading Energy Honor

Professor Dave Allen of the Cockrell School’s McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering will receive a prestigious Eni Award, a top honor in the fields of energy and environmental research.

Photo of David Allen in his office

Allen won the Energy Transition award, one of the three major Eni Awards. It recognizes innovative solutions for de-carbonizing the energy sector. The organization honored Allen for his work on limiting methane emissions from oil and gas activity.

Methane is a large component of natural gas, which is key to this current phase of energy source transitioning. However, methane is a greenhouse gas that could impact climate change at a much higher rate than carbon dioxide, so curbing emissions is important.

Allen is the director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Resources in the Cockrell School and holds the Melvin H. Gertz Regents Chair in Chemical Engineering. In 2017, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his contributions to improving air quality and for development in the education and practice of sustainable engineering. Allen served as chair of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board from 2012 to 2015, and he is a past recipient of several additional energy and environmental awards, including the Lewis Award for Contributions to Chemical Engineering Education, the Texas Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award, the Lawrence Cecil Award and the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award.

Allen is currently leading a project to build a first-of-its-kind network of sensors for monitoring emissions across oil and gas production regions, with the potential to revolutionize how methane leaks are found. Project Astra, which brings together leaders in the energy sector as well as environmental conservation, seeks to leverage advances in methane-sensing technologies, data sharing and data analytics to provide near-continuous monitoring. If successful, it will provide a significant improvement over current monitoring technologies, many of which measure emissions only on an annual or semi-annual basis.

“The ENI Award recognizes our contributions to characterizing methane emissions from upstream oil and gas operations and identifying ways to reduce the emissions,” Allen said. “This work has involved many students, research staff and collaborators over the past decade; I thank all of these partners for their contributions and I appreciate the attention that the ENI Award brings to this topic.”

The awards, created by Italian oil and gas company Eni, are now in their 13th year. The goal is to promote better use of energy sources and encourage further research in that area. This year’s award ceremony will be Oct. 14 in Rome, and Sergio Mattarella, president of the Italian Republic, will be in attendance.

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