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NETL Director Brian Anderson will join other experts in rare earth elements (REEs) and critical materials (CMs) at a congressional launch of the House Critical Materials Caucus, being held virtually Sept. 24 at 12 p.m. (ET).   Anderson will join representatives Guy Reschenthaler and Eric Swalwell, who co-chair the Caucus, along with Adam Schwartz, director of Ames Laboratory, and Brian Gabriel, industrial analyst with the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy. Representatives Reschenthaler and Swalwell announced formation of the new House Critical Materials Caucus on July 24, 2020, to help the United States develop the technical expertise and production capabilities to assure a long-term, secure and sustainable supply of energy critical elements. Anderson will introduce NETL’s scientific and technical solutions aimed at developing an economically competitive supply of REEs and CMs, which will assist in securing and maintaining the nation’s economic growth and national security.
A program supported by NETL will prepare a new generation of welders in the use of advanced alloys that will enable electric generating stations to run with greater efficiency, produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions and supply affordable electricity using the nation’s abundant fossil energy resources.   Today, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Lab’s partner in the Advanced Welding Workforce Initiative (AWWI), issued a request for proposals (RFP) inviting states, counties and cities, institutions of higher education, unions and other organizations to develop training programs to teach high-tech welding skills that can be used in the energy sector. These skills will also be broadly applicable for positions in the emerging aerospace, aviation, automotive and petrochemical industries, which will need welders and other employees with expertise in working with high-performance materials.
Image courtesy of Gas Technology Institute
Photo Caption: Image courtesy of Gas Technology Institute. The new STEP facility, supported by NETL, will house a desk-sized sCO2 turbine that could power 10,000 homes. Key recommendations to guide the operation of a first-of-its-kind testing facility to develop next-generation power plants have been issued by NETL researchers. If successful, testing at this facility will provide a pathway to lower the cost of electricity, shrink the environmental and physical footprint of power generation systems and conserve water.
Combustion Laboratory
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 fossil fuel and combustible renewable (i.e., hydrogen) technologies like direct power extraction (DPE) systems and 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 nation. “The diagnostic techniques we’ve developed are unique in that they are very application-specific,” Clint Bedick, Ph.D., who works in the FCL, said. “Whether it’s finding ways of measuring the intense heat and electrical conductivity of an oxy-combustion flame or recording an RDE shock wave that lasts only milliseconds, we tailor our approach for the specific environments in which we’ll be measuring.”
NETL Research Associate Kristyn Johnson took the top prize at the national Ignite Off! Competition this week for her dynamic Ignite Talk — a fast-paced presentation that uses 20 picture-centric slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds. She previously advanced from the local round at NETL and went on to compete against the other finalists from Argonne National Laboratory and Oakridge National Laboratory, winning for a presentation on her research investigating rotating detonation engines. Kristyn is part of the Professional Internship Program and her mentor is Don Ferguson. “I was very happy to represent NETL in the final round of the competition,” Johnson said. “The entire experience, both presenting my own work in such a unique format as well as learning about the work of other researchers, was very interesting and beyond rewarding. To win the competition is truly an honor that would not have been attainable without the support of our pressure gain combustion team.”
Mark Menezes
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes will serve as opening keynote speaker and NETL representatives will share program updates during the ESA Energy Storage Annual Virtual Conference & Expo to be held Monday, Aug. 24, through Thursday, Aug. 27. The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) principal advisor on energy policy and existing and emerging energy technologies, Menezes will take part in The Road Ahead, a Keynote Session scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT on Monday, Aug. 24. Menezes’ address will focus on America’s leadership and innovation in energy storage and DOE’s recent launch of the Energy Storage Grand Challenge, a comprehensive program to accelerate the development, commercialization and utilization of energy storage and sustain American global leadership in the field. In addition, DOE will host a learning lab exploring the Energy Storage Grand Challenge at 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Aug. 26.
ORNL’s funding supports the Advanced Coal Processing Program's goal to find uses for coal outside of traditional thermal and metallurgical markets.
Two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), are working with the University of Kentucky and the Pennsylvania State University to further the research and development of coal-derived carbon fibers. This research, valued at $10 million, will investigate all aspects of coal-derived carbon fiber production—from computational chemistry and pitch processing to the final spinning and heat treatment process of the fibers. The aim is to produce fibers with superior properties at a lower cost than currently available. Through this effort, ORNL researchers will work to understand the chemistry and processing conditions required to produce different grades of coal-derived carbon fiber. NETL, ORNL, and the university teams will work closely to diversify U.S. coal use in domestic manufacturing, while making coal and coal-based products more attractive for export.
NETL researchers envision a future in which hospitals, universities and other institutions will use on-site combined heat and power (CHP) systems to produce their own electricity, as well as the energy to heat and cool their buildings, while burning less fuel and releasing fewer emissions into the atmosphere. To make that happen, NETL’s Thermal Sciences Team is designing advanced airfoils for natural gas turbines to enable CHP systems to operate with greater efficiency. “Higher efficiency increases power output using the same quantity of fuel, which translates into lower costs to run a CHP system and reduced carbon dioxide emissions,” said Doug Straub, Ph.D., who works at the Lab’s campus in Morgantown, West Virginia. The goal of the Advanced Turbine Airfoils for Efficient Combined Heat and Power Systems project is to evaluate how new airfoil cooling designs, new materials and additive manufacturing technologies can raise the efficiency of turbines used in CHP systems.
Students from all around the country demonstrated their research prowess during the Department of Energy’s 25th Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) summer internship program via virtual conference throughout the week of Aug. 3-7, 2020. The MLEF Technical Forum provided an opportunity for the participants to share their research, outcomes, and what they learned collaborating with their mentors and research advisors throughout their nine-week internship. NETL hosted 29 Mickey Leland fellows this year, representing 26 colleges and universities from 16 states, with two participants from Puerto Rico.
FOA Logo
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL have selected one additional project to receive approximately $1.5 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development under the second closing of funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002001.000001, Crosscutting Research for Coal-Fueled Power Plants. The selection of this project supports the Water Security Grand Challenge, a White House initiated, DOE-led framework to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water. This project directly supports the third goal of this challenge: reducing the freshwater use intensity associated with existing and new thermoelectric power generation.