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NETL highlighted its expertise in data management and curation at the virtual U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Data days Conference (D3), which recently released its final report on conference proceedings. Researchers from the Lab were integral in the organization of the conference and had many opportunities to share how NETL is ensuring enduring and efficient access to data resources and exploring novel solutions to a number of challenges, from improving data accessibility to developing novel data-science tools and more. The Lab’s significant developments in data management are addressing critical needs in the areas of data access, data sharing and cloud computing to support DOE research and enhance the nation’s energy infrastructure.
SOFC FiberOptic Sensor Development
Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) hold great promise for providing highly efficient, clean energy for a low-carbon economy. However, adoption of these next-generation technologies hinges on reducing component degradation and improving longevity. The ability to make numerous, real-time, highly accurate temperature measurements across an SOFC could better inform SOFC modeling efforts aimed at designing more resilient fuel cells. To this end, NETL researchers, in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh, have successfully embedded multiple distributed fiber optic sensors into an SOFC multi-cell test to achieve a previously unattainable degree of spatial resolution in temperature measurement. The work was recently featured in an article in the prestigious journal Applied Energy.
World Water Day
On Monday, March 22, 2021, NETL will join with the global community to observe World Water Day, a time designated by the United Nations to draw attention to the fact that 2.2 billion people live without access to safe water. “As the demand for clean, fresh water increases both nationally and globally, NETL continues to expand its research portfolio to ensure that water is used in the most efficient and environmentally sound manner possible while producing clean and reliable energy. Energy production accounts for about 40% of water withdrawals and about 10% of consumption in the U.S.; therefore, the work we do at NETL is critically important to environmental sustainability,” said NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D.
Power Plant
The work of NETL-funded research and development efforts conducted by the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI) has seen cyber security improvements adopted at major energy facilities across the United States. Changing market conditions are forcing power generation facility owners and operators to adopt new advanced digital technologies to generate operational flexibility, maintenance efficiencies and meet the needs of a transitioning workforce. However, such technologies can increase the potential for a cyber security attack by using more software and interconnected assets. That’s why NETL and EPRI, along with Idaho National Laboratory and Southern Engineering Services, collaborated with industry to develop a holistic cyber security risk reduction framework for power generation facilities. The Lifecycle Risk Reduction Framework (LRRF) provides a scalable, three step process for implementing a right-sized cyber strategy to protect industrial control systems.
Winners
Team 1 from North Allegheny Cyber Academy, located in Wexford, Pennsylvania, claimed victory at the 30th annual Western Pennsylvania Regional Science Bowl (WPASB) middle school competition, organized and sponsored by NETL. The event was held March 6, 2021, in a virtual format. Twenty-two teams from 13 school districts from across the state participated in the competition. The WPASB tested students’ knowledge of math and science with preliminary and elimination competition rounds. High school teams competed Saturday, Feb. 27. Coming in at second, third and fourth place in the middle school competition were Jefferson Middle School (Mt. Lebanon), North Allegheny Cyber Academy Team 2 (Wexford) and Marshall Middle School (Wexford), respectively.
Franklin
Franklin Regional High School, located in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, claimed victory at the 30th annual Western Pennsylvania Regional Science Bowl (WPASB) high school competition, organized and sponsored by NETL. The event was held Feb. 27, 2021, in a virtual format. Thirty-seven teams from 23 school districts throughout the state participated in the competition. The WPASB tested students’ knowledge of math and science with preliminary and elimination competition rounds. The middle school competition will be held Saturday, March 6. Coming in at second, third and fourth place were North Allegheny Cyber Academy (Wexford), Sewickley Academy (Sewickley) and Winchester Thurston School (Pittsburgh), respectively. This year, teams did not play head-to-head matches and instead competed against all other teams in the virtual competition. Each regional competition had at least two preliminary rounds, in which each individual team was read the same sets of questions during each round. The teams with the highest combined point totals from all preliminary rounds advanced to the Elimination Tournament.
Welding
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) have awarded five grants totaling $1 million to support training programs that will teach workers new welding techniques and other advanced manufacturing skills. The majority of the funding, $750,000, will be allocated by DOE’s High-Performance Materials program to support the Advanced Welding Workforce Initiative (AWWI) and prepare a new generation of welders to manufacture and service high-temperature alloy components in electric generating stations. Such plants operate at significantly higher temperatures and pressures, which increases efficiency and lowers emissions of carbon dioxide but requires the use of superalloys that can withstand conditions much harsher than those in the older, less efficient facilities.
leadership group
Data Science leadership from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of the Chief information Officer (OCIO) and National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) researchers continue to work together to bolster the Department’s geo-data science capabilities through strategic interagency connections and participation in valuable workforce development programs. These efforts support the U.S. Geospatial Data Act of 2018 (GDA) as well as the Federal Data Strategy and help to spark innovation and advance scientific research, catalyze economic opportunity, improve the nation’s public health and protect the environment. Geospatial data enables critical DOE research, and this location-based information is integral to the greater policy development, evaluation and decision-making that underpin DOE’s mission. For example, awareness of environmental conditions, energy planning and production, hazard mitigation, emergency response and decision support all benefit from carefully curated geospatial data. Supporting the Geospatial Data Act of 2018
STEM
NETL’s STEM Education & Outreach Team supports all types of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning — even if that learning takes place through a screen. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and into 2021, team members have stayed busy by preparing virtual activities and participating in online events that continue to bring STEM education, information on science career paths and more to students and science professionals during a time of great uncertainty. In the last year, NETL developed the first in a series of virtual Meet A Scientist events to increase the accessibility of the Lab’s research and directly engage with K-12 students in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and rural Oregon. Interested participants submitted questions through NETL’s social media accounts, with researchers addressing selected questions through a live virtual event. Researchers were able to speak about their career pathways and exciting research roles during the event. Future Meet a Scientist events are slated to occur, so check NETL’s social media to learn about future dates and topics.
Cloud
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) are working with data science leadership and experts from DOE’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) to develop powerful new cloud computing capabilities that are harnessing the power of big data to advance energy research and data computing across the Department.