Leading Energy Innovation in Louisiana: Why Industry Joined LSU’s Statewide FUEL Team

January 29, 2024

LSU’s historic win for Louisiana and energy economic development in the state—$160 million in funding through the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Engines program with an additional $67.5 million through Louisiana Economic Development—was enabled by leading industry partners, including Shell, ExxonMobil and Baker Hughes.

Two workers wearing hardhats in an industrial setting

Louisiana’s energy, chemical and petrochemical industry is leading the energy transition in Louisiana. 

– Photo courtesy of Baker Hughes

For decades, energy, chemical and petrochemical companies have turned to LSU for collaborative technology and talent development to secure the solutions and people they need to be competitive. As leaders of the ongoing energy transition to lower-carbon technologies and low-carbon fuels, industry has made clear commitments to innovation and talent development. Industry has also continued to invest in LSU to advance the energy priority of LSU’s Scholarship First Agenda. In June 2022, Shell invested $27.5 million in LSU to establish the LSU Institute for Energy Innovation and advance reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy for all. In June 2023, ExxonMobil strengthened its decades-long relationship with LSU to collaboratively pursue energy security and sustainability initiatives, and invest in local community workforce programs and athletics.

Amidst the momentum created by these transformative investments in 2022 and 2023, LSU reached out to several of its longtime energy partners on a new and bold plan—to go after the largest National Science Foundation, or NSF, grant in history to accelerate energy innovation and create new jobs in energy and chemical manufacturing in Louisiana. Everyone said yes. The resulting partnership, now selected by the NSF to lead energy innovation for the nation, is called Future Use of Energy in Louisiana, or FUEL.

“Shell is excited to continue working with LSU to accelerate the role Louisiana can play in the energy transition,” said Lee Stockwell, general manager of U.S. carbon capture development at Shell. “The FUEL Engine work will further strengthen and develop the technology and future workforce required to meet that challenge, inspiring Louisiana and others to achieve their net-zero ambitions by the middle of the century.”

Shell continues to grow its collaboration with the university through the LSU Institute for Energy Innovation and the FUEL partnership, as well as on technology projects like direct air capture, including a recently awarded $5M project by the U.S. Department of Energy. In Louisiana, Shell is already transitioning its onshore business to deliver lower-carbon fuels and products by increasing performance chemicals production at its Geismar chemical facility and producing more renewable fuels, lower-carbon ethylene and circular chemicals from recycled plastic waste at its Energy and Chemicals Park in Norco. LSU, Shell and other FUEL partners will work to solve a range of high-priority energy challenges, including those related to site-specific carbon capture, use and storage, direct air capture and how to best decarbonize industry and mobility—such as driving, shipping and aviation— through electrification and lower-carbon fuels, among them advanced biofuels and hydrogen.

ExxonMobil became a FUEL partner as the company works to scale up emission solutions that can make a big impact. These include carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, advanced biofuels and lithium technologies.

“LSU’s leadership and the FUEL collaboration showcase our state’s readiness to catalyze research, prepare a highly skilled workforce and position Louisiana as a global leader in the energy transition.”

Prasanna Joshi, ExxonMobil Vice President of Low Carbon Solutions Technology 

“For nearly 115 years, ExxonMobil has invested in Louisiana, employing generations of families and producing essential products the world needs. We’ll continue that mission while focusing on reducing carbon emissions as part of our comprehensive sustainability strategy, both from our own operations, and from other sectors across the state,” ExxonMobil Vice President of Low Carbon Solutions Technology Prasanna Joshi said. “LSU’s leadership and the FUEL collaboration showcase our state’s readiness to catalyze research, prepare a highly skilled workforce and position Louisiana as a global leader in the energy transition.”

ExxonMobil is currently the largest manufacturing employer in Louisiana. Last year, the company announced its acquisition of Denbury Inc., an experienced developer of carbon capture, use and storage solutions and enhanced oil recovery. Denbury provides ExxonMobil with the largest owned and operated CO2 pipeline network in the U.S. at 1,300 miles, including nearly 925 miles of CO2 pipelines in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi—located within one of the largest U.S. markets for CO2 emissions, as well as 10 strategically located onshore sequestration sites. A cost-efficient transportation and storage system will accelerate carbon capture and storage deployment for ExxonMobil and third-party customers over the next decade. It also sets ambitious research and development goals for carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, ammonia, biofuels and direct air capture technologies.

In Louisiana, the global energy technology company Baker Hughes participates in 30 active carbon capture, use and storage projects, and collaborates with Air Products on their hydrogen production, compression, transportation and storage solutions. This includes the U.S. Gulf Coast hydrogen network—the world’s largest—and supports Air Products’ announced $4.5-billion blue hydrogen clean energy complex in eastern Louisiana.

“FUEL’s win will leverage more than $27 billion in low-carbon projects already announced by Louisiana industry, and that is just the beginning,” said Nigel Jenvey, executive for strategy and growth initiatives at Baker Hughes. “When the state, academia and industry work together, we further spur the research, workforce training and investment necessary to produce the technology and talent that will take energy forward, making it safer, cleaner and more efficient for people and the planet.”

As a FUEL partner, Baker Hughes is currently investing in technologies and projects to develop next-generation direct air capture and closed-loop geothermal technology, convert CO2 and hydrogen into sustainable fuels, deploy zero-emission power plants and more.

Learn more about how FUEL industry partners Shell, ExxonMobil and Baker Hughes are investing in research and development in Louisiana and around the world: