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NMSU inks agreement with ExxonMobil to conduct produced water research

New Mexico State University and ExxonMobil have signed an agreement that will create a collaboration to coordinate research involving produced water projects and provide educational opportunities for students.


Woman, center, works at a computer in a lab while two men look on.
Pei Xu, New Mexico State University civil engineering professor, is leading NMSU’s effort with ExxonMobil to research produced water treatment. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

“This is a wonderful opportunity for NMSU to collaborate with ExxonMobil to leverage the expertise of both academia and industry to try and find solutions to our nation’s water challenges,” said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “This agreement illustrates NMSU’s strength in water and environmental engineering research.”

Pei Xu, the PESCO Endowed Professor and Ward Family Endowed Interdisciplinary Chair in Civil Engineering, is leading NMSU’s effort. The collaboration involves two interdisciplinary projects. Researchers from the College of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences and College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences are working together to develop cutting-edge technologies for produced water management.

“Our collaboration with New Mexico State University builds on ExxonMobil’s commitment to meet energy demand while reducing environmental impacts through innovative research programs with academic institutions,” said Monte Dobson, technology development manager for ExxonMobil. “The project leverages New Mexico State’s leading expertise in produced water research with ExxonMobil’s resources and strong technological capabilities to find beneficial ways to re-use produced water.”

NMSU graduate students and post doc researchers will be involved in the collaboration.

“This is a very valuable experience for the students,” Xu said. “Students learn about fundamental theories, but when we work with ExxonMobil the students are exposed to the industry. They ask very practical questions and learn real-world, hands-on experience by communicating with industry partners. It also allows us to get industry input for the advanced research we do.”

Faculty members involved in the current projects include Huiyao Wang, civil engineering associate professor, Huiping Cao, computer science associate professor, Kenneth Carroll, plant and environmental sciences associate professor, and Yanyan Zhang, civil engineering assistant professor.