News Release

Release Date: July 31, 2014

From Lab to Market—Particle Imaging Technology Improves Energy Efficiency, Helps the Environment, Saves Lives


When scientists at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) created a new technology to study how tiny particles of coal take high-speed journeys through gases and liquids inside energy-producing systems, their goal was to help improve the efficiency and environmental friendliness of coal-based energy production. They didn’t intend to create an enabling innovation for other life-improving applications, but they did.

The technology, called High-Speed Particle Imaging, gave researchers an unprecedented ability to see, measure, and record particle motion in great detail leading to designs for new advanced, efficient, and environmentally friendly fossil-fuel energy systems. But the need to know and understand how particles flow through gases and liquids isn’t limited to fossil fuel research. NETL’s imaging technology helped Pittsburgh’s Presbyterian Hospital and Baxter Healthcare prevent flow-induced blood clotting in artificial hearts, which was causing strokes in patients. The technology was also used to provide accurate estimates of the oil leak rate when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred—leading to an award from the Secretary of Energy—and it has been used for research into chemical processing.

Watch the video above to find out more about how NETL’s innovation moved from the laboratory to multiple applications in the marketplace, saving lives in the process.

This month, NETL and other Energy Department national laboratories are showcasing ways in which technology transfer, industry partnerships, and demonstration projects ensure that public investments in science and technology have a life beyond the lab. For more information, please visit the Energy Department’s national lab webpage.


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