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Animated diagram depicting the beneficial factors and research thrusts of high-performing CFD computing
With NETL support, through the Lab’s University Training and Research program, researchers at the University of California, Riverside used advanced computing models that harness machine learning to efficiently reduce impingement in boilers — an innovation that can ensure longer and more efficient service life for power plants and even potentially extend the lives of helicopter rotor blades or aircraft engine components. Erosion from particle impingement results in irreversible material degradation due to repeated impact of high-velocity particles on surfaces. This process causes perpetual wear of critical components in various energy and technological industries, like those used in petroleum refining and pipelines and in power plants. Mitigating these effects is particularly crucial because the financial loss from erosion is estimated to cost 1 – 4% of the gross national product in industrialized nations.
Funding Opportunity Announcement
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) today announced up to $19 million in funding for research that will develop cutting-edge technology solutions to make clean hydrogen a more available and affordable fuel for electricity generation, industrial decarbonization, and transportation. The funding opportunity will focus on using hydrogen systems to convert various waste materials—such as biomass, plastics, common household garbage and other wastes—into clean energy, supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s goals of achieving a zero-carbon American power sector by 2035 and a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. “When coupled with technologies that capture and store carbon dioxide emissions, using waste materials is expected to be a low-cost path for producing clean hydrogen to help achieve our climate goals,” said Brad Crabtree, Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. “This effort can also help reduce the volume of waste sent to landfills while creating local economic opportunities by locating new waste-to-energy hydrogen plants in communities.”
CHRES interns
Next-generation engineers and scientists who served internships at NETL, two other national laboratories, and four universities to study hybrid resilient energy systems converged in Morgantown, West Virginia, recently to share presentations on their work as part of the Consortium of Hybrid Resilient Energy Systems (CHRES) Technical Forum. Hybrid energy systems are interconnected infrastructures using a variety of independent components such as electricity, thermal, gas, hydrogen, waste and transportation networks. Resilience refers to the ability of those systems to survive and quickly recover from extreme and unexpected disruptions.
NETL's Leah Arnold
Leah Arnold, IT manager within NETL’s Laboratory Operations Center, has an extensive career in public service marked by resilience and a knack for embracing new practices and technologies to excel in a rapidly changing work environment. Arnold has been the supervisor of the Lab’s enterprise applications area since she joined NETL in September 2012. She also held several interim leadership roles over the years, supporting the IT Director and the Cybersecurity team. Over that time, the Lab’s federal IT staff doubled, and Arnold’s team tripled in size. Arnold explained that her team’s work is significant on many levels. “First, risk to NETL is minimized since business knowledge is maintained within federal staff,” she said. “In addition, enterprise business system planning now informs strategic direction on priorities. Lastly, technical debt is reduced, and business needs are being met.” 
NETL researcher Mac Gray (right) works with colleague Chris Wilfong.
On more than one occasion, colleagues have suggested that NETL’s McMahan “Mac” Gray may soon need a larger display case to hold the numerous honors and awards he has received for advancing cutting-edge solutions to complex energy issues. The research chemist joined NETL in 1986 and has served as principal investigator for multiple innovations, including NETL’s basic immobilized amine sorbent (BIAS) technology — a breakthrough discovery capable of capturing greenhouse gas emitted by power plants that earned Gray a prestigious R&D 100 award. 
International Women in Engineering Day is celebrated across the globe June 23 to raise awareness about the women pursuing engineering and transforming the world with their achievements. NETL is proud to recognize its women engineers who work to address the nation’s critical energy needs. A few of the many women engineers at work in NETL labs, their specialties, and their views on the work they do include: Djuna Gulliver, Ph.D. — NETL Research Scientist
NETL researcher Dirk Van Essendelft, Ph.D.
NETL, in partnership with California-based Cerebras Systems Inc., is embracing new, efficient computer architecture that can accelerate research project simulations to make a clean energy economy a reality. Cerebras is one of the world’s leading artificial intelligence (AI) hardware manufacturers. Working in conjunction with Cerebras, who designed the revolutionary wafer-scale engine (WSE) to tackle tough AI problems, NETL developed the Wafer-scale engine Field equation Application programming interface (WFA). A programming interface allows different computer programs to communicate, and the WFA is enabling newer, more efficient means of generating simulation modeling data that will produce results faster while reducing the amount of energy consumed. The WFE is over 1,500-time more energy efficient per unit computing as compared to current state-of-the-art research computing resources.
NETL and the University of Wyoming report that using brackish water to cool power plants can reduce freshwater consumption by 94% to 100%.
Researchers at NETL and the University of Wyoming report that using brackish water — water that is not suitable for drinking or irrigation because it contains between 1,000 and 35,000 parts per million of dissolved solids — to cool power plants can reduce freshwater consumption by 94% to 100%. The results of the study were reported in a paper published online by Nature Portfolio and available here.  Thermoelectric power plants boil water to create steam, which then turns turbines that generate electricity. After the steam has passed through turbines, it must be cooled into water before it can be reused to produce more electricity.  In the United States, 90% of electricity comes from thermoelectric power plants that require cooling.  Nicholas Siefert, Ph.D., a research mechanical engineer at NETL, said power plants are a major source of water consumption in the United States.
NETL's competitors for the National Science Bowl
High school and middle school teams that won NETL’s annual regional Science Bowl competitions for West Virginia and western Pennsylvania made strong showings at the national contest held April 27-May 1 in Washington, D.C. Suncrest Middle School Team 1 and Morgantown High School Team 1 earned trips to compete in the National Science Bowl after winning the 2023 West Virginia Regional Science Bowl. Also located in Morgantown, Suncrest finished second in its opening day of round-robin competition at the national contest and advanced to double-elimination play. Suncrest went on to win its first and third matches in double elimination before it was eliminated. Morgantown High School took fifth out of eight teams in its divisional round-robin competition, just one win away from advancing to the double-elimination portion of the contest. North Allegheny Senior High School Team 1 and North Allegheny Marshall Middle School Team 1 won the 2023 Western Pennsylvania Regional Science Bowl.
William Strahl
NETL will host an extended residency for a Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) doctoral candidate in chemical engineering under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program. CMU’s William Strahl is one of 87 awardees from 58 different universities who will conduct research at 16 DOE national laboratories. Strahl earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Brigham Young University with a minor in computer science before arriving in Pittsburgh to study at CMU for his doctorate. The goal of SCGSR is to prepare graduate students for science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) careers by providing graduate thesis research opportunities through extended residencies at DOE national laboratories. The program represents a pipeline for highly skilled scientific and technological workforce development.