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Available Technologies

Title Date Posted Patent Information Sort descending Opportunity
Producing Carbon and Hydrogen With NETL’s Novel Iron-based Catalyst U.S. Patent Pending

This new Iron-based catalyst will enable a one-step process to produce hydrogen - a promising energy source that is also environmentally benign - by directly converting methane. The catalyst will eliminate the need to first create syngas and then remove carbon dioxide. In addition to creating hydrogen, carbon, which is also a useful commodity is created as a by-product. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge
The traditional commercial methods of forming hydrogen from methane are based on steam methane reforming, coal or bio-mass gasification, electrolysis, and thermo-chemical processes. Some of these methods are cost-effective, but each requires that syngas first be created and the water gas shift reaction be used to convert syngas to hydrogen and carbon dioxide. From there, the hydrogen must be purified using pressure swing adsorption to separate the hydrogen for the carbon dioxide. Developing a method that avoids these intermediate steps would reduce the cost of producing valuable hydrogen.

Rotational Mechanical Gas Separator U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes a technology for separating liquid and solid phase substances from a gas stream. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge
The removal and sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) from gas streams has been extensively researched, and many methods of separating CO2 have been proposed. These include adsorption monoliths, membrane absorption and cryogenic distillation, but such methods require special materials and/or high maintenance. Other state-of-the-art removal techniques, such as centrifugal stratification, compress CO2 into a liquid or solid phase, then remove it from the gas stream. But during removal, the liquid/solid phases travel through flow fields and their viscous heating effects. This causes the liquid/solid phases to re-vaporize, stymieing separation efforts.

Metal-organic Framework Films for Gas Sensor Applications U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes a system and method for rapid, ambient-temperature growth of metal-organic framework (MOF) films for gas sensor applications. More specifically, the invention relates to growth of MOF films on advanced sensor devices such as distributed optical fiber and passive wireless like surface acoustic wave-based sensors. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

MOF thin films have emerged as particularly attractive candidates for gas sensing applications due to their tunable porosity and pore size, enabling them to be rationally designed to selectively absorb specific gasses of interest. MOFs are especially appealing due to their high selectivity and capacity for energy-relevant gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane. A critical step towards the development of MOF thin film devices is the ability to efficiently and reliably incorporate high-quality MOF layers onto a wide range of substrates like optical fibers. However, current techniques are often inconvenient due to long reaction times, heating requirements, equipment costs and/or poor control over crystal coverage and morphology.

Microwave Diagnostics and Passive Sensors for Pipeline, Well-Bore, and Boiler-Tube Monitoring U.S. Patent Pending

The invention is a system and method for monitoring the interior of metallic tubular structures like pipelines, well-bores, and boiler-tubes using an integrated wireless system. The technology uses a combination of the pipe or tubular structure as a wave guide, integrated radio frequency (RF) patch antennas, integrated passive surface acoustic wave (SAW) sensors, and data analytic methodologies. The technology is available for licensing from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Safety and longevity are major concerns in fossil fuel industries and other technologies that use long metallic tubular structures like gas pipelines, well-bores, and boilers. Real time monitoring of the tubular structures for multiple variables within them, including but not limited to corrosion, leaks, and mass flow, is crucial to ensure safety and cost-effective maintenance in timely manner. Conventional techniques for investigating the state-of-health and operational conditions of tubular structures use non-destructive acoustic-based techniques, which are limited by the ability to interpret the data because, as an indirect measurement, requires models to be made of the infrastructure under investigation.

Low-Cost Optical Sensor Array to Monitor Temperature and Dissolved Gases in Electrical Assets U.S. Patent Pending

The invention is a new low-cost way to form an optical sensor array that monitors multiple parameters such as temperature and hydrogen in essential components of electrical transmission and distribution networks. It uses multi-wavelength interrogation combined with multiple sensor elements using a single optical fiber. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Power transformers are among the most essential components of electrical transmission and distribution networks. To avoid the substantial financial and social expenses caused by catastrophic failures, there is a growing need to develop low-cost and real-time analytical techniques and instruments to detect and diagnose fundamental changes in the operating characteristics of transformers. Key parameters, such as dissolved gases content and temperature, provide valuable information for assessing the condition of transformers. For example, dissolved gas analysis (DGA) identifies electrical or thermal faults in transformers. In addition, temperature information is vital because when the temperature in transformers exceeds 90o C, the aging rate of insulation and tensile strength grows, resulting in a dramatic deterioration of transformer life expectancy. It is therefore of significant value to monitor the temperature under various ambient and loading conditions to identify failures before they result in significant damages. 

Energy Infrastructure Monitoring using Conformal Coaxial Helical Antennas and Distributed Electromagnetic Interrogation Schemes U.S. Patent Pending

The invention is a distributed radio frequency (RF) /electromagnetic (EM) interrogation scheme that leverages distributed antennas along a coaxial cable for subsurface, pipeline, and other energy infrastructure monitoring. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge: 
In industrial and wireless sensing, the communication channel often determines the characteristics and performance of the overall sensing network. For wellbore monitoring applications, telemetry challenges are acute because of harsh environmental conditions (elevated temperature and pressure, chemical corrosives) which restrict the application of complex electronics and instrumentation. In addition, inherent absorption of electromagnetic radiation within the subsurface environment limits the potential for free space wireless power and signal delivery over distances. However, distributed wireless sensors throughout the subsurface environment could provide unprecedent visibility for monitoring and minimizing environmental impacts associated with the wellbore and ensure safe and productive operation of oil and gas recovery processes, enhanced geothermal systems and carbon storage sites.  Similar needs exist for monitoring of natural gas pipelines and other energy infrastructure for which enhanced visibility can significantly impact reliability, resiliency, and security. 
 

Improved Rare Earth Element Extraction Method from Coal Ash U.S. Patent Pending (provisional patent application)

This invention describes an improved method for extracting rare earth elements (REEs) from coal ash at ambient temperatures. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge
As China currently controls the supply and prices of almost all the world’s REEs, developing a domestic supply is critical for the continued manufacturing of technologies that support nearly all modern devices, including critical systems for energy and national defense. REE extraction efforts from domestic sources of coal and coal-related resources have emerged as a viable solution, but successful methods must be both cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

Current methods and technologies for REE extraction from ore and other sources can be hazardous and expensive to implement without harming the environment or workers. For example, common practices employ high temperatures and strong acids or bases. This technology seeks to overcome these and other issues with current REE extraction methods by turning to a material that is currently viewed as a waste – coal ash.

Polyphosphazene Blends for Gas Separation Membranes U.S. Patent Pending; USPN 7,074,256

These technologies are high-performance CO2 separation membranes made from polyphosphazene polymer blends.  NETL’s technology was originally developed to aid in separating CO2 from flue gas emitted by fossil-fuel power plants. The NETL membrane is cross-linked chemically using low intensity UV irradiation, a facile technique that improves the membrane’s mechanical toughness compared to its uncrosslinked polyphosphazene constituents. Membranes fabricated with this technique have demonstrated permeability of up to 610 barrer, with CO2/N2 selectivity in excess of 30, at a practical separation temperature of 40°C. NETL’s patent-pending technology is being bundled with Idaho National Laboratory’s (INL) patented technology, with NETL handling licensing.  NETL would work with a potential licensee and INL to license the technology. 


Challenge: 
Membrane-based separation is one of the most promising solutions for CO2 removal from post-combustion flue gases produced in power generation. Technoeconomic analyses show that membranes aimed for this application must possess high gas permeability; however, most high permeability materials suffer from poor mechanical properties or unacceptable loss in performance over time due to physical aging. This technology is a successful attempt to turn one of these high-performance materials with poor mechanical properties into one amenable for use in practical separation membranes with virtually no physical aging issues.
 

Tunable Nanocomposite Alloys for Magnetic Field Sensing U.S. Patent Pending; USPN 10,168,392

Research is currently active on the patent pending available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Conversion of Carbon Dioxide to Carbon Monoxide or Synthesis Gas by Reforming or Gasification Using Oxygen Carriers/Catalysts U.S. Patent Pending; USPN 10,427,138

Research is active on the development of metal ferrite oxygen carriers/catalysts for use in processes that convert carbon dioxide (CO2) to carbon monoxide (CO) or synthesis gas by reforming or gasification. This invention is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

A variety of approaches have been employed to harness CO2 activation in order to produce useful products for chemical processes and to control greenhouse gas emissions. These approaches include catalytic dry reforming of methane, chemical looping dry reforming of fuel, and coal gasification with CO2.

CO and synthesis gas are very useful precursors for various chemical processes and can be used as a fuel for energy production. In catalytic dry reforming, the production of syngas from CO2 and methane is achieved in the presence of a catalyst that offers several advantages, such as mitigation of greenhouse gases emissions and conversion of CO2 and methane into syngas which can be used to produce valuable downstream chemicals. In chemical looping dry reforming, oxygen from an oxygen carrier or metal oxide is used for partial combustion of methane or coal to produce syngas or CO. The reduced oxygen carrier is then oxidized using CO2 to produce CO and oxidized oxygen carrier. In coal gasification with CO2, production of syngas from coal is achieved through the reaction of coal with CO2 instead of air or steam, which can be enhanced by the presence of metal oxide/metal promoters. Since the gasification process does not require steam, significant cost reductions would be expected. However, finding low-cost and efficient catalysts/oxygen carriers for these processes has been a major challenge, limiting their commercial success.