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Sponsored Research Projects

The Regional Research Institute occupies a unique position on the WVU campus. While limited in research staff, its activities and influence extend across a large number of disciplines, colleges and research units. The core research staff includes the Director, a Research Associate Professor, a Research Assistant Professor, a Post-doctoral Research Fellow, and several Graduate Research Assistants. All RRI staff members are expected to participate in external funding activities, including the preparation and submission of external funding proposals and the conduct of funded research. The RRI strives to include faculty from across campus in collaborative research proposals initiated in-house and also participates, whenever appropriate and possible, in initiatives centered elsewhere. Likewise, we seek to build relationships with researchers from other institutions, including continuing collaborations with scholars at other institutions, which have included the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie-Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Washington in Seattle, George Mason University, Florida International University, Pennsylvania State University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Arizona State University and the National Energy Technology Laboratory.


ARC Coal Industry Ecosystem (CIE) Analysis Extensions: Prospectus

Researchers: Randall Jackson, Peter Jarosi, John Deskins, Eric Bowen, Christiadi, Brian Lego, Heather Stephens, Elham Erfanian, West Virginia University;  Jilleah G. Welch, Matthew N. Murray, University of Tennessee

Start Date: July 1, 2019
End Date: September 30, 2020
Funding Agency: ARC, $500,000

Project Summary:

This project focuses on Appalachian coal-based employment, production data and forecasts using tables, maps, and diagrams. Through a conventional shift-share analysis on a subset of high-interest counties, the researchers will identify the unique characteristics of structural economic change in these regions and will perform an analysis for implementing a power industry ecosystem. Existing industrial clusters for five county or multi-county regions will be examined to identify industries and clusters with high potential for economic development in each region and while also evaluating gaps and strengths for these clusters  using location quotients, shift-share methods, and input-output methods. This project will also support the investigation of states’ efforts to empower treatment and recovery programs. To help the region target scarce resources to support regional prosperity, researchers will look at which industries or occupations contribute more to regional growth.

An Economic Analysis of Appalachian Coal Industry Ecosystems

Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI), Péter Járosi, West Virginia University; Peter Schaeffer, Resource Management, West Virginia University; John Deskins, Eric Bowen, Christiadi, Brian Lego, Bureau of Business and Economic Research, West Virginia University.

Start Date: July 1, 2019
End Date:  September 30, 2020                         
Funding Agency: ARC, $395,082

Project Summary: The decline of the coal industry across Appalachia has crushed much of its economic activity. Alternative energy sources increased environmental pressures, and mining technologies that operate with a reduced work force are behind this economic decline. Researchers will examine three major areas: identifying all components of the coal ecosystem and estimating the supply chain impacts in Appalachia; examining the implications of the coal industry’s downturn on the area’s transportation; and developing a typology of regional economies that surround the coal-fired plants in the region using both econometric and input-output techniques. For each Appalachian county, the team will determine how employment and wages are affected by county CIE dependence scores, key suppliers and purchasers, county distress scores, county risk scores, and spatial vulnerability indices and will look at how coal will affect long-run changes to freight transportation costs.

ECIO Python Port and Updates: Supplements 2, 3, & 4

Researchers: Randall Jackson (PI) and Peter Jarosi, RRI West Virginia University.

Start Date: 1/1/2018
End Date:   6/30/2020
Funding Agency: NETL, $247,125

Project Summary: Update the Python based ECIO tool and employ it to provide economic impact assessments of shock-cases relative to reference cases. The ECIO model will be used to evaluate the economic impacts of potential coal power plant retirements and the potential impacts of extending the life of existing units based on NEMS forecasts. The updates will include the following tasks:

  • Regional Modeling enhancements: Development and implementation of regional impacts forecasts
  • Development and implementation of region-specific power generation technology mix enhancements
  • ECIO Model Documentation


Modeling Economics of Advanced Alloy Development 

Researchers: Randall Jackson (PI) and Péter Járosi, RRI West Virginia University. 

Start Date: 1/20/2019—6/30/2019 

Funding Agency: NETL; $39,100 

Project Summary: Boiler tube failures cause 168 hours of downtime per year and average annual revenue losses of $3 million to $15 million for 300MW—1GW+ coal units. Advanced materials being developed by NETL have the potential to make substantial improvements in coal-fired unit availability, saving the industry both operational time and money. The resulting report from this project will outline the potential economic impact of improvements in unit availability from the use of these advanced materials and will look at other uses and benefits of advanced alloys in the power plant.

Economic Analysis of Natural Gas Markets

Researchers: Randall W. Jackson, John Deskins and Eric Bowen.

Start Date: May 1, 2019
End Date: December 31, 2019
Funding Agency: NETL, $15,255 (RRI portion $3,902)

Project Summary:

To enable the continued expansion of production of natural gas, oil and NGLs, additional infrastructure will be necessary. Market awareness and company awareness, along with detailed analysis shall support a better understanding of the potential for sustained or increased production of natural gas, oil and NGLs. We will discuss the potential for economic growth within the Appalachian region, including growth of natural as development, petrochemical and other related industries.

Marcellus Shale Energy Environmental Laboratory (MSEEL)

Researchers: WVU and The Ohio State University

Start Date: November 2014
End Date: Ongoing (5 year project)
Funding Agency: DOE/NETL and Northeast Natural Energy $7,770,226

Project Summary:

This information is taken from  WVUToday.

“As the Appalachian Region feels the impact of the burgeoning shale-energy industry, a consortium of researchers and industrial partners led by  West Virginia University, with the assistance of The Ohio State University, will conduct the first-ever long-term, comprehensive field study of a natural resource that has changed the country’s – and the world’s – energy supply. The team will identify and demonstrate technologies required for best practices in environmentally responsible shale development, from drilling to completion through production. The U.S. Department of Energy will allow the research team to create and manage the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory, a field site and dedicated research laboratory at the Morgantown Industrial Park. The Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory will allow the team to address critical gaps of knowledge of the characterization, basic subsurface science, and completion and stimulation strategies that enable more efficient resource recovery from fewer wells with reduced environmental impact. The primary objectives of the project include providing a long-term research site with an existing well and documented production and environment baseline from two previously completed wells. A dedicated scientific-observation well will be used to collect detailed subsurface data and to monitor and test technologies in additional wells to be drilled periodically over the project lifetime. The site also offers a unique opportunity to enable an open, collaborative and integrated program of science and technology development and testing to minimize environmental impacts while maximizing economic benefits.”

Sugar Grove Naval Base Area Economic Development Resource Needs Assessment and Strategic Action Plan

Researchers: John Deskins (PI), Eric Bowen, Christiadi, Brian Lego, WVU Bureau of Business & Economic Research; Randall Jackson, WVU RRI; Patrick Kirby and Kate Greene, WVU Brownfields Assistance Center; and M Miller Development Services, LLC

Start & End Dates: 3/2/2018—6/30/2019

Funding Agency: Department of Defense, $269,800/RRI Share $12,550

Project Summary: A multi-disciplinary team of experts will prepare a plan to promote economic development in West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands region now that the naval base has closed. The Potomac Highlands region comprises Pendleton, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy and Mineral counties. Together, these areas form the Region 8 Planning and Development Council.

The team will identify the impacted region, assess its economic and demographic data, identify growth potential by industry and by occupation, identify “at risk” occupations, inventory skill requirements, identify industry certifications, and analyze economic development gaps.

Working together with local community and regional leaders, a strategic plan will be developed with the goal being to attract new businesses.


West Virginia University – Support for the International Forum on Unconventional Gas Sustainability and the Environment (INFUSE)

Researchers: Tim Carr (PI) Geology and Geography, West Virginia University; Randall Jackson, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; Paul Ziemkiewicz, National Research Center for Coal and Energy Environmental Technology, West Virginia University; Shawn Grushecky, Natural Resources and Design Forestry and Natural Resources, West Virginia University; Shikha Sharma, Geology and Geography, West Virginia University; Thomas Wilson, Geology and Geography, West Virginia University; Michael McCawley, Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences, West Virginia University; Kashy Aminian, Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, West Virginia University; Ali Takbiri Borujeni, Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, West Virginia University; Ebrahim Fathi, Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, West Virginia University.

Start & End Dates: September 23, 2015 ̶ May 31, 2018

Funding Agency: US Department of State $750,000

Project Summary: We will coordinate international outreach and education related to the International Forum on Unconventional Gas Sustainability and the Environment (INFUSE). The overall goal is to increase international understanding of how proper drilling, hydraulic fracturing and water management can reduce environmental risks and lead to sustainable resource development. This will enable government officials to better understand d the unique safety, environmental, and social challenges associated with the development of unconventional resources and best practices to address those challenges. Based on our experience from the Marcellus and Utica shale intervals in West Virginia and the Appalachian basin, we will document scientific, technical, policy and environmental lessons learned in our region that are appropriate for different countries and regions. The research program will have a flexible structure that will work to supplement and accommodate the requirements of effective overseas outreach. Developing a SAM to Support the Economic Analysis of Introducing a New Pulp Mill to the Appalachian Coalfields Region 

Researchers: RW Jackson (PI)

Start and End Dates: December 15, 2019—June 2020

Funding Agency: The Nature Conservancy $19,755

Project Summary: As part of the project focusing on the Appalachian Coalfields, the research team intends to conduct a computable general equilibrium (CGE) analysis of the impacts of introducing a pulp mill to the region. CGE modeling frameworks require the existence of a social accounting matrix (SAM) for calibration of model parameters. WVU team members have the ability now to generate these SAMs, but not at the level of detail needed for an accurate representation of pulp mill operation. Data exist that can be compiled and processed to develop and incorporate data that will more accurately represent the pulp mill industry in the SAM, which can then be used as the foundation for the CGE model and analysis. The Web Book of Regional Science brings together on one website comprehensive descriptions of many of the basic concepts, analytical tools and policy issues important to regional science. The papers can be accessed at Web Book of Regional Science is equivalent to well over fifteen hundred pages of traditional text. The intent in bringing together such an extensive collection of scholarship is to make it possible for instructors to choose from a menu of offerings (appropriate for their students) when designing courses. Just as one would never order everything on the menu for one meal at most restaurants, it is not expected that anyone would ever put all of the Web Book contributions into a single syllabus! The electronic medium makes appropriate choices easy. The flexibility of electronic publishing also makes it easier to either update or supplement the material once it is posted.