Chemical engineer and entrepreneur Nathan Prisco joins ACEP

Nathan Prisco
Photo by Amanda Byrd/ACEP
Nathan Prisco is a research assistant professor of chemical engineering at ACEP.

September 12, 2023
By Yuri Bult-Ito

Nathan Prisco recently joined ACEP as a research assistant professor of chemical engineering. His focus is identifying and testing affordable hydrogen technologies for communities in Alaska and elsewhere to promote energy security and decarbonization.

Hydrogen is an important linchpin that relates to electrification and carbon sequestration efforts. Prisco believes the production, distribution, and use of clean hydrogen fuels may play an important role in Alaska’s future energy grid, which could involve both electrical and non-electrical transmission.

Prisco first came to Alaska in 2020 as a U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Manufacturing Office Arctic Innovator Fellow. The time as a fellow led him to launch his company, Mighty Pipeline, an Alaska-based company that produces clean hydrogen energy to transport to global markets. During his tenure as a fellow, he learned about the importance of community in Alaska and wanted to join ACEP, a cross-disciplinary team that he believes has a lot to contribute to the state’s discussion on small and large energy developments.

Prisco holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree, Prisco left for China to work for LP Amina, a multinational environmental engineering company in Beijing, on pollution reduction and beneficiation processes for the coal power industry. On an inspired mission to reimagine energy systems, he then enrolled in the doctoral program at UC Santa Barbara. His time there proved to be a special opportunity. He developed advanced knowledge related to magnetic resonance and the quantum world. At the same time, he worked with engineers at major oil companies to solve real-world problems that stumped them and to find inspirations toward pursuing affordable energy innovation at the microgrid scale.

Through his studies and company experience, Prisco grew to believe in developing collaborations to find solutions. While he is confident that his company’s technology for hydrogen-carrier transport through upgraded oil pipelines can make hydrogen more affordable, he contends that it is only achievable as part of a broader Alaskan hydrogen ecosystem that integrates electrification and carbon sequestration. He is excited to be part of ACEP, a diverse group of subject matter experts who collectively try to understand the “whole elephant” rather than just the “elephant’s toes.” 

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” he said.

This is Prisco’s first summer in Alaska and he intends to take full advantage of it, including three- to four-day backpacking trips around the state. He has taken up golf recently, which he finds quite a different sport, given all the mosquitoes, aka the (unofficial) state bird of Alaska. Having been studying Chinese off and on for years, world travel is high on his list. His other passions include board games (he is a big fan of Dungeons and Dragons), listening to audiobooks (fiction and non-fiction), and brunch (he enjoys cooking Moroccan food). And he loves cats.