Back to Top
Skip to main content

Novel Concepts

New approaches to sensing technologies and manufacturing (e.g., quantum information systems, embedded systems, etc.) and to utilization of sensor data (e.g., imaging and visualization) have the capability to disrupt the energy landscape of the future. Examples of emerging, innovative technologies under investigation by NETL include quantum computing, magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), and distributed ledgers for security (blockchain). Within this program area, NETL has also explored cybersecurity, including blockchain technology and visible light communications (VLC) that can be tightly integrated with energy and carbon management systems of the future.

Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) Power Generation Research
Figure 1: Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) Power Generation Research

Direct Power Extraction

Researchers in NETL’s Fundamental Combustion Laboratory (FCL) have developed advanced diagnostic techniques that are providing accurate, real-world data to validate models of next-generation combustible renewable (i.e., hydrogen) technologies using or coupled with direct power extraction (DPE) systems or rotating detonation engines (RDE). As the models become more refined, these technologies can be efficiently designed and deployed to realize significant performance benefits, which will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide more affordable and reliable energy for the United States (U.S.). Read More!

Quantum for Energy Systems and Technologies

Quantum Researchers
Figure 2: Group photo while laser in operation

QUEST logoQuantum Information Science (QIS) is expected to profoundly change the practice of science and engineering in the coming decades. QIS technology exploits quantum phenomena for performing tasks that are impossible to do today, such as finding prime factors of large numbers or elucidating reaction mechanisms in complex chemical systems. It is a rapidly progressing field, fueled by large investments from the private sector and governments. Its importance to the U.S. economy and national security is underscored by the National Quantum Initiative Act passed in December 2018, which creates a coordinated multiagency program to support research and training in QIS.

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has launched an initiative in Quantum for Energy Systems and Technologies (QUEST) for applying QIS to problems encountered in energy technology development. Potential areas of application include subsurface engineering; sensors and detectors; power plant, electrical grid, and pipeline cybersecurity; materials development; power plant design and optimization; and power plant operation and control. Read More!


NETL is improving the security and reliability of energy systems, including how they interconnect to the U.S. electrical grid. The effort is embracing Industry 4.0—a fourth industrial revolution sparked by the combination of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices with the increasingly technological world of the 21st Century. Energy infrastructure stakeholders have been incorporating more sensors and controls, high-performance computing, and predictive maintenance strategies to make energy production and carbon management systems more robust and secure.

The laboratory’s work complements the activities of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) counterparts in the offices of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Nuclear Energy (NE), and Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER). Each of these entities have responsibilities to ensure the reliability and security of nuclear and renewable energy and the energy value chain through transmission and distribution.

Additional Links and Resources

EDXThe Energy Data eXchange (EDX) is the Department of Energy (DOE)/Fossil Energy and Carbon Management's (FECM) virtual library and data laboratory built to find, connect, curate, use and re-use data to advance FECM and environmental R&D. Developed and maintained by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), EDX supports the entire life cycle of data by offering secure, private collaborative workspaces for ongoing research projects until they mature and become catalogued, curated, and published. EDX adheres to DOE Cyber policies as well as domestic and international standards for data curation and citation. This ensures data products pushed public via EDX are afforded a citation for proper accreditation and complies with journal publication requirements.

SAMIThe Science-Based Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Institute (SAMI) builds off NETL’s unique strengths in science-based modeling and research data curation and management capabilities. It also capitalizes on NETL’s world-class capabilities in high-performance scientific computing. This simulation science is driving breakthroughs in advanced materials design and discovery and reducing the cost and risk of carbon capture utilization and storage. More information about SAMI is available at its data exchange webpage.

EANETL’s Strategic Systems Analysis and Engineering group conducts a variety of energy analyses to identify and evaluate promising R&D opportunities. Check out their website for specific studies related to sensors and controls technology.

EACybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) To find out more about DOE Cybersecurity initiatives, check out the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) webpage.

BLOSEMBlockchain Technology BLOSEM is a multi-lab collaboration, led by NETL, that seeks to develop energy-sector guidance, standardized metrics, and testing environments for technology maturation of novel blockchain-based concepts for device security, secure communications, and grid resilience. Check out their website.

Explore the Site