The 74th Annual Meeting of Advisory Trustees and Board of Directors of Southwest Research Institute held on May 23, 2022, included presentations on key SwRI research programs conducted during the 2021 fiscal year. Contact Joanna Quintanilla, +1 210 522 2073, or Jesús Chávez, +1 210 522 2258 for more information or to interview the researchers.
View SwRI's 2021 Annual Report.
Protecting Deepwater Environments from Spills
SwRI has created an important program for safeguarding the environment from oil leaks. The timely detection and mitigation of leaks and spills can have life-saving consequences for flora and fauna while also allowing energy to be delivered in a safe and responsible manner.
For more information, visit Fluids Engineering.
Shane Siebenaler, Director, Mechanical Engineering Division
The Future of Recycling is Now
Despite great efforts to recycle waste materials, piles of plastic waste end up buried underground or dumped in oceans, harming wildlife and the environment. A new SwRI method aims to recycle mixed plastics into useful chemicals and fuels.
For more information, visit Process Engineering & Fuels.
Technology Today Podcast Episode 30: Recycling Plastic for Fuel
Image and caption: https://www.swri.org/file/pyrolysis-setup-podcast-30jpg
Hsiang Yee Hoekstra, Program Manager, Chemistry & Chemical Engineering Division
Advanced Fluids for Electrified Vehicles
While the drive toward electric vehicles continues its upward trend, the automotive industry is working to better understand the role of lubricants in these electrified environments. A new SwRI program brings together industry competitors to research so-called “e-fluids” to assess how they need to change to perform optimally in electric powertrains.
For more information, visit Advanced Fluids for Electrified Vehicles (AFEV) Consortium
Image and caption: https://www.swri.org/file/ev-testingjpg
Terry Alger, Ph.D., Director, Powertrain Engineering Division & Cole Frazier, Research Engineer, Fuels and Lubricants Research Division
Drug and Vaccine Development
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, perhaps no other time in recent memory have we recognized the importance of vaccines and drug therapeutics and their ability to minimize or eliminate contagions and other threats. SwRI’s rapidly expanding vaccine and drug development program is working to advance vaccines and therapeutics to tame illnesses in homes, hospitals, and even the battlefield.
For more information, visit Pharmaceutical Testing Laboratories.
Joe McDonough, Ph.D., Director, & Norma Cantu, Program Manager, Chemistry & Chemical Engineering Division
The COVID-19 Exposure Assessment Tool (CEAT) for Assessing and Managing Risk
SwRI’s Austin-based wholly owned subsidiary, Signature Science LLC, focuses on research and development that solves scientific and technological challenges. Signature Science has developed a new tool for determining the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at workplaces, events, and other facilities.
For more information, visit https://www.signaturescience.com/what-we-do/laboratory-quality-assurance/.
Molly Isbell, Ph.D., Signature Science
Imaging the Wind and Weather in Outer Space
Southwest Research Institute is leading the Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere, or PUNCH, a NASA Small Explorer (SMEX) mission that will integrate understanding of the Sun’s corona, the outer atmosphere visible during total solar eclipses, with the “solar wind” that fills the solar system.
For more information, visit Heliophysics.
Press Releases: SwRI-led PUNCH mission advances toward 2025 launch
Image and caption: https://www.swri.org/file/punch-microsatellites-release-d022605jpg
Craig DeForest, Ph.D., Program Director, Space Science & Engineering Division
CubeSats and Space Weather
NASA is collaborating with SwRI to provide big science from small satellites called CubeSats. The CubeSat for Solar Particles, or CuSP, mission, seeks to understand the sources and acceleration mechanisms of solar particles that create space weather, which can affect astronauts and technology on Earth and in space.
For more information, visit Heliophysics.
Mihir Desai, Ph.D., Director, Space Science & Engineering Division
The Chemistry Between Stars and Their Planets
Although extreme distances make the exploration of exoplanets difficult, researchers are still able to glean important information by studying the relationship between stars and their planets. SwRI is examining exoplanets and determining whether they are truly Earth-like.
For more information, visit Astrophysics.
Image and caption: https://www.swri.org/file/star-exoplanet-systems-artist-impressionjpg
Natalie Hinkel, Ph.D., Sr. Research Scientist, Space Science & Engineering Division