Makhnenko wins CAREER award

7/26/2023 10:59:48 AM

CEE assistant professor Roman Y. Makhnenko has won a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award. His project, “Shales as Barriers for Fluid Flow in Geoenergy Projects,” will address the challenges in characterization of clay-rich geomaterials’ behavior from laboratory to field scales.

“Shale formations are abundant in the subsurface and are key for successfully reaching the net-zero emission target to mitigate climate change by storing heat, CO2, H2, and nuclear waste deep underground,” Makhnenko says. “The large sensitivity of the low-permeable nanoporous clay-rich materials to changes in degree of saturation, mechanical loading, pore pressure and temperature, convert their characterization into a very challenging task. Overcoming this challenge is a required step to reliably predict and model the short- and long-term response of shales in assessing the safety of low-carbon geoenergy projects.”

The research developments will be integrated into the educational program by training engineering students on approaching the design of energy geotechnics projects; guiding students to apply their knowledge to create video education modules; and engaging them in public deliberation, contributing to the nation’s effort to increase diversity in the STEM workforce and the worldwide effort to mitigate climate change.

Makhnenko joined CEE at Illinois in 2016. He leads the rock mechanics program at Illinois, which includes modern high-pressure high-temperature rock testing facilities and the development of new graduate and undergraduate courses on the topic. The rock mechanics group is working on projects related to CO2 sequestration in the Illinois Basin, induced seismicity, assessment of seasonal hydrogen storage in saline aquifers, and the application of machine learning to efficiently characterize and model rock behavior in underground applications.

CAREER awards, administered under the Faculty Early Career Development Program, are the NSF’s most prestigious form of support and recognition for junior faculty who “exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.