TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Rona Donahoe is a professor of geochemistry at the University of Alabama. She is working on a project in the oldest oil field in the state, which involves CO2 injections that stimulate the production of oil by reducing viscosity and the surface tension between the oil and reservoir rock at depths of 10,000 to 12,000 feet.
It is a less intrusive process than hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which uses high water pressure and chemicals and can result in contamination of water supplies or leave unstable rock formations. Donahoe’s original research grant was $300,000, which she split with another professor. That money runs out in January. Funding sources for such work have been drying up on campuses in recent years because of federal sequestration and other financial issues plaguing higher education.
Yet there is one source of cash on her campus, and many others, with the spigot wide open: college football.