HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The University of Alabama in Huntsville announced its role in a $20 million dollar plasma research initiative on Monday.

UAH is partnering with eight other universities in the state and a private firm in Huntsville for the project.

The $20 million dollar grant is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

Now you might be wondering what exactly plasma is. In this application, it isn’t blood-related. Director of UAH’s Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research, Gary Zank, describes plasma as a form of matter.

Zank said, “Basically particles that carry a charge, and a mixture of neutral particles, that’s a plasma.”

Solids, liquids, and gases are the other three more familiar “natural states of matter.” Zank said plasma could be the gateway to further innovation and technology.

He also said plasma touches just about every aspect of our everyday lives.

During a virtual interview with News 19, Zank stated, “[Plasma] probably enables you and I to be talking this way, and in fact, probably enables many aspects of your car and maybe your health, and certainly your kitchen.”

Zank said the research will focus on many areas, but it hopes to solve five “grand challenge problems for society.” The idea is to be able to identify solutions in many fields like agriculture, health, food safety, and space.

“One of the projects that we will be doing is developing quantitative models to predict and forecast the effects of space weather on things like satellites,” Zank concluded.

To learn more about the grant, partnership between universities, and five-year plan, click here.