Washington, D.C. —Technologies developed by researchers at the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) have captured four prestigious 2009 R&D 100 Awards. Selected by an independent panel of judges and the editors of R&D Magazine, the annual awards are presented to the 100 most technologically significant products to enter the marketplace in the past year.
"The Department of Energy’s national laboratories are incubators of innovation, and I’m proud they are being recognized once again for their remarkable work," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "The cutting-edge research and development being done in our national labs is vital to maintaining America’s competitive edge, increasing our nation’s energy security, and protecting our environment. I want to thank this year’s winners for their work and congratulate them on this award."
According to R&D Magazine, the judges look for products and processes "that can change people’s lives for the better" and "improve the standard of living for large numbers of people." NETL’s award-winning technologies can be used to remove mercury and carbon dioxide from power plant emissions, detect carbon dioxide leakage from geologic storage formations, and design power plants more quickly, efficiently, and at lower cost.
The four new awards push the number of R&D 100 Awards won by NETL researchers and NETL-supported technologies to more than 30 since 2000.
NETL’s winning technologies are the following:
- Clay-Liquid CO2 Removal Sorbent — NETL developed and patented a low-cost, solid-state sorbent that removes CO2 from power plant flue gas and other gases. The sorbent’s low cost, availability, and simple preparation contribute to a significant reduction in total energy costs when compared to currently used commercial processes associated with carbon sequestration. The end result is that operators can continue to burn coal to provide low-cost electric power to consumers. Feasibility of commercial-scale preparations of the sorbent has been demonstrated in cooperation with Sud-Chemie of Louisville, Ky., using NETL- developed technology.
- Thief Process for the Removal of Mercury from Flue Gas — Researchers at NETL developed the Thief Process that extracts partially burned coal from a pulverized coal-fired combustor using a suction pipe, or "thief," and injects the resulting sorbent into the flue gas to capture the mercury. The process greatly reduces the costs of removing mercury by using already existing coal rather than expensive activated carbon. The process can prevent 90 percent of the mercury from reaching the atmosphere, thereby making the air safer for people and generating clean energy from domestic coal. The process was licensed to Nalco Mobotec of Orinda, Calif., which began marketing it in December 2008.
- VE-PSI: Virtual Engineering Process Simulator Interface — The VE-PSI software provides engineers with the ability to design and optimize power plants within a virtual engineering environment. Engineering data from process simulation, computational fluid dynamics, and computer-aided design can be seamlessly integrated and easily analyzed within an immersive, interactive, three-dimensional power plant walk-through system. VE-PSI enables engineers to create virtual prototypes of new plant designs more quickly, more efficiently, and at less cost than ever before, as well as improve existing designs before expending time and materials on physical prototypes and pilot plants. Ames Laboratory, Ames, Iowa, Reaction Engineering International of Salt Lake City, Utah, and NETL are co-winners of the award.
- SEQURE™ Tracer Technology — Developed by NETL researchers, this patent-pending technology uses perfluorocarbon tracers, or PFTs, to ultra-sensitively detect CO2 leakage from geological storage reservoirs. Since the capture and permanent storage of CO2 is vitally important to addressing greenhouse gas emissions, the Office of Fossil Energy must have technology available to verify that CO2 is not leaking from deep storage reservoirs in the nation’s carbon sequestration program. This technology has been tested at several pilot-scale sites and has proven to be successful in detecting CO2 in field simulation experiments.