As part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy’s Advanced Energy Systems (AES) program, NETL’s AES research program focuses on transformational technologies that improve coal-based power generation through efficient, low-cost, dynamic innovations. The Lab’s work includes research in advanced coal combustion technologies; productive, transformative future coal plants; coal gasification and liquefaction; technologies to improve energy conversion from coal; and advanced techniques for processing coal.
Coal FIRST (Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, Transformative) is a research and development (R&D) program aimed at advancing step-change coal generation technologies that are capable of flexible operations to meet the needs of the grid; use innovative and cutting-edge components that improve efficiency and reduce emissions; provide resilient power to Americans; are small compared to today’s conventional utility-scale coal; and will transform how power generation technologies are designed and manufactured. Coal FIRST’s R&D will create power plants of the 21st century with zero or near-zero CO2 emissions that can burn coal, biomass, and waste plastics needed to provide secure, stable, and carbon free, or even negative, reliable power and hydrogen to the American people.
The Transformative Power Generation program aims to advance science, engineering, and technology by inventing, integrating, maturing, and commercializing coal combustion power technologies and systems to enhance the nation’s energy production and protect the environment for future generations. The program develops technologies to improve performance and extend the life of existing power plants.
Advanced Coal Processing at NETL focuses on both enhancing the value of coal as a feedstock and developing new, high-value products derived from coal. Research includes testing of laboratory and pilot-scale technologies to produce upgraded coal feedstocks and additional revenue-producing products. Expanding existing coal property databases assists research efforts and informs potential consumers in domestic global markets.
The NETL Advanced Turbines Program manages a research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) portfolio designed to remove environmental concerns over the future use of fossil fuels by developing revolutionary, near-zero-emission advanced turbines technologies. In response to the Nation’s increasing power supply challenges, NETL is researching next-generation turbine technology with the goal of producing reliable, affordable, diverse, and environmentally friendly energy supplies.
The NETL Fuel Cell program maintains a portfolio of RD&D projects that address the technical issues facing the commercialization of solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology and a series of increasingly larger demonstration projects intended to validate the solutions to those issues.
The DOE Gasification Systems program is developing innovative modular designs for converting diverse types of coal into clean synthesis gas to enable the low-cost production of electricity, transportation fuels, chemicals, hydrogen, and other useful products to suit market needs. Advancements in this area will help enable advanced power generation and other syngas-based technologies to be competitive in both domestic and international markets, and spur on the use of abundant domestic coal resources, in turn contributing towards increased energy security and reviving depressed markets in traditional coal-producing regions of the United States.
Coal-Biomass to Liquids pursues the advancement of technology for modular gasification-based systems enabling efficient and cost-effective conversion of coal into liquid fuels like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Technologies for efficient use of biomass as coal co-feed and taking advantage of carbon capture and sequestration technologies to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions are of high interest in application to modular liquid fuels production systems development.