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Power Plant
Fossil energy is vital to the nation’s security, with coal serving as the fuel that produces nearly 30% of U.S. electricity. To ensure the continued success of this critical energy resource, NETL is funding advanced research to modernize the grid and improve the efficiency of the existing coal-fired power plant fleet, which strengthens the reliability of all our electricity generation. In coal and other fossil fuel-based power plants, high-pressure, high-temperature steam drives turbines that spin electricity-producing generators. After exiting the turbine, steam moves through the condenser where it’s converted back into liquid so it can be re-heated and re-pressurized to be used again. Condenser performance is largely dependent on how efficiently cold tubes cool the steam and condense it back to liquid. When steam contacts the metal tubes, a film or condensation can form. This layer acts as an insulator between the cold metal and steam, limiting heat transfer and lowering efficiency.
Ohio State TEP process
Innovations by researchers at Ohio State University have shown potential to deliver a supply of strategically and economically vital rare earth elements (REEs). REEs are used in everything from green energy applications and personal electronics to defense technology and smart car systems. Important as these elements are, China controls the lion’s share of the world market. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has been tasked with helping secure a domestic supply. NETL’s research has demonstrated methods by which REEs can be extracted from the nation’s coal by-products such as acid mine drainage (AMD) and fly ash generated at power generation facilities, with the Ohio State University refining this process even further. The Ohio State University researchers demonstrated that a conceptual three-stage trap-extract-precipitate (TEP) process can successfully extract REEs from coal mine drainage.  The TEP process relies on the use of environmentally benign industrial by-products to trap the REEs and an organic chelating agent to recover the REEs from the mine drainage.
Steve
How do research breakthroughs and innovations create economic and workforce opportunities on the regional and national scale? This is the focus of the NETL Regional Workforce Initiative Energy 101 webinar series. The NETL RWFI Energy 101 Series provides a basic primer on the research conducted at NETL, including the challenges and potential economic and workforce opportunities that successful research into these topics, along with their related challenges may bring to the region and the nation. NETL researchers present information on their work in an easy to follow and easy to communicate fashion. This month we look at ongoing NETL research into sensors and controls. The Sensors and Controls program improves fossil energy power generation through sensors, distributed intelligent control systems, and increased security. Advanced sensors and controls provide pivotal insights into optimizing plant performance while also increasing plant reliability and availability.
STEM
NETL’s K-12 STEM Education & Outreach team provided support services during three West Virginia Regional Science Bowl (WVSB) Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) qualifying competitions in December. The competitions determined which middle and high school teams will compete in the main WVSB event, to be held Feb. 8-9 at West Virginia University in Morgantown. The winning teams from the WVSB will win an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the annual National Science Bowl in April. During Science Bowl competitions, middle and high school students compete as teams in an action-packed quiz bowl format to answer questions on science, math and engineering. The events test students’ science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) knowledge while promoting and demonstrating the value of science and technology in education.
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As one of the nation’s most stable and prevalent sources of electricity, coal has reliably powered the country for more than 100 years and will continue to be an important part of the U.S. energy mix for the foreseeable future. However, the nation’s coal-fired power plant fleet has faced increasing retirements in recent years, threating the long-term viability of this critical energy source. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NETL are working to overcome these challenges by laying the groundwork to develop the coal plants of the future through DOE’s Coal FIRST (Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, Transformative) initiative.
Thornton
During his career with NETL, U.S. Army veteran Jimmy Thornton has worked tirelessly to advance new technology development for Fossil Energy (FE), and that remains true today with current efforts to investigate uses for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for FE technology development. Born in Kentucky and growing up in Campbells Creek, Thornton joined the U.S. Army at the encouragement of his high school baseball coach who was an Army Reserve drill instructor. Trained as an infantryman and entering service in early 1983, Thornton was stationed in Germany, where he completed French Commando School in Givet, France. Leaving active service in 1987, Thornton joined the Kentucky National Guard while studying at Eastern Kentucky University, and he later transferred to the West Virginia National Guard after accepting a professional internship with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in Morgantown in 1988. Commissioned as an officer in 1992, he served with the 201st Field Artillery and was deployed to Iraq in 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
NGR
The world’s largest operating post-combustion carbon dioxide (CO2) capture system Petra Nova celebrates its third anniversary Jan. 10, 2020. The project, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and administered by NETL, is demonstrating how carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies can economically support the flexibility and sustainability of fossil fuels at commercial scale. Owned and operated by NRG Energy Inc. and JX Nippon Oil and Gas Exploration Corporation, Petra Nova is located southwest of Houston Texas and applies carbon capture technology to an existing unit at the coal-fired W.A. Parish Generating Station. Commencing operation in 2017, the Petra Nova project addresses capture and beneficial reuse of CO2 from coal-based electricity production. The project uses an advanced amine-based process to capture CO2, which is then compressed, dried, and transported for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) at the West Ranch Oil Field in Jackson County, Texas, to boost oil production.
PCOR
The carbon footprint created by industry and other human activity in Big Sky Country — the area stretching across the Great Plains and into Canada — can be reduced using technology pioneered by NETL and partners at a leading research university. Work completed as part of the NETL-backed Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership demonstrates not only the ability to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it also enhances the efficiency of oil production, an important consideration to bolster domestic energy production. PCOR is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSPs), which have been laying the groundwork since 2003 for large-scale geologic storage of CO2 in the United States as a means of mitigating effects of climate change while still allowing for the efficient and affordable use of fossil fuels for energy production.
FOA Logo
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL have announced approximately $6.3 million in federal funding for research and development projects under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002193, University Training and Research for Fossil Energy Applications. This FOA will encompass two separate university programs, each with its own requirements and restricted eligibility. The two programs are the University Coal Research Program and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions (HBCU/MSI) Program. Projects under this FOA will support early-stage, fundamental research that advances the science of coal technologies, while also helping to train the next generation of energy researchers, scientists, and engineers at U.S. colleges and universities. The HBCU/OMI program aims to increase the participation of underrepresented students in such research. This FOA will focus on four areas of interest (AOI) as follows: AOI 1: Quantum for Energy Systems and Technologies AOI 2: Novel Sensors and Controls for Flexible Generation
Washington and Jefferson College Center for Energy Policy and Management Tour
Members of Washington & Jefferson College of Energy Policy and Management visited NETL Morgantown Wednesday Jan. 8 to tour various facilities on campus and familiarize themselves with the Lab’s mission along with the tools and technologies being pursued to accomplish it. The W&J Center for Energy Policy and Management brings together scientists, industry leaders, elected officials, advocates and citizens with the goal of fostering the development of a national energy policy that has a place for all energy sources, minimizes environmental impact and promotes economic growth. Center Director Corey Young, along with Research Specialist Max Clark and Community Outreach Coordinator Linda Ritzer, attended the tour which was preceded by discussions and overviews for both organizations to familiarize with each other. Located in western Pennsylvania, the heart of Appalachia’s natural gas boom, Washington & Jefferson College has stated an interest in shale gas development as well as other advanced energy technologies, and further discussions with NETL representatives highlighted possibilities of future collaboration.