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Mechanical Energy Storage Technology Presents Opportunities for Savings and Energy Flexibility
DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy is working through its new Advanced Energy Storage Program to improve and foster the widespread use of energy storage integrated with fossil energy applications leading to facility flexibility, power grid resiliency, cost savings, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. One class of energy storage technology with potential for long durations and integrating with fossil assets is mechanical energy storage. Mechanical energy storage takes excess or low-cost energy and converts it into potential energy for subsequent discharge to the grid. As an example, Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) technology may offer an easy means of storage and power generation. It uses off-peak cheap electricity to compress air and store it in a pressurized storage reservoir. When electricity is needed at peak demand, the air is withdrawn, combusted, and expanded to drive an electric generator. With this system, air can be pre-heated by recovering heat from the compressor train or by burning fuel, such as natural gas, to improve efficiency.
super computer
According to the latest rankings by TOP500, NETL’s Joule 2.0 supercomputer remains among the most powerful in the world, securing a position of 24th in the United States and 70th in the world. Supercomputing is essential in achieving NETL’s mission to discover, integrate and mature technology solutions that enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations. By expediting technology development through computational science and engineering, Joule 2.0 helps NETL cut costs, save time and spur valuable economic investments with a global impact. A $16.5 million upgrade in 2019 boosted Joule’s computational power by nearly eight times, enabling researchers to tackle more challenging problems as they work to make more efficient use of the nation’s vast fossil fuel resources.
Performance alloys
A new NETL report explores opportunities to leverage high-performance alloy (HPA) research supported by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE) beyond coal-fired power plants and expand into industrial gas turbines as well as adjacent markets that require similar materials, such as the aerospace, industrial and chemical processing and automotive industries. HPAs are metals that display superior characteristics in high temperature and corrosive environments. Expensive to develop and produce, HPAs enable power plant processes to run at higher temperatures and pressures, improving performance and efficiency. These materials are critical to plant reliability under cyclic operation and have long been a key area of research for NETL and its partners. According to the report, the global HPA market generated more than $4 billion revenue in 2016, which is expected to climb to $7.6 billion in 2023. The largest application of HPAs is aerospace, followed by industrial gas turbines, industrial and chemical processing, and automotive. Together, these industries make up 92.5 percent of the current HPA market.
John B
Today’s U.S. electricity grid consists of millions of miles of transmission lines that bring power to hundreds of millions of electricity customers across the country, so ensuring the security and reliability of this vital infrastructure is a top concern for NETL. The Lab continues to advance energy storage technologies for future deployment, but grid reliability also requires an understanding of the interaction between various sources of electrical power, especially during periods of increased demand like severe weather events. Energy Markets Analysis team member John Brewer is an engineer who dedicates much of his time at the Lab supporting this goal through valuable analyses of programs and technologies for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE). Brewer has worked as an engineer at the Lab for more than 10 years (6 as a contractor and 5 as a federal employee), but engineering wasn’t always his first choice.
AST
NETL expertise is finding new ways to transform coal and natural gas into chemicals, including the lightest element listed in the periodic table, to resolve a heavy burden for operators of the U.S. electricity grid system. Partnering with leading university researchers and industry, NETL plans to advance the use of fossil fuels in an environmentally responsible manner to generate hydrogen and other forms of chemical energy, which will be stored for long durations and used when needed to produce electricity and valuable products, ensuring affordable, reliable and clean electric power for generations of consumers. Hydrogen (H2) gas, with an atomic structure of two protons and two electrons, can be produced from coal and natural gas to serve as an important energy storage medium in the Advanced Energy Storage Program. NETL is developing the program in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Fossil Energy (FE).
Learning
A groundbreaking NETL study demonstrated that machine learning (ML) and data analytics can be used to design next-generation alloys needed to operate fossil fuel-based power plants with greater efficiency and produce affordable electricity while lowering emissions of greenhouse gas. Completed by a team at NETL’s facility in Albany, Oregon, an internationally recognized center of excellence for alloy fabrication, the study validated the application of ML analysis to enable more rapid and exceptionally accurate design of high entropy alloys (HEAs) — critical materials for ultra-efficient power generation — and eliminate the trial-and-error method and other models to develop these advanced materials.
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Three NETL researchers coauthored an invited article on nickel-based superalloys for the 50th anniversary issue of the prestigious journal Metallurgical and Materials Transactions (MMT) A. The paper, titled “Solving Recent Challenges for Wrought Ni-Base Superalloys,” discussed the status of technology, design and manufacture of advanced superalloys required for fossil energy and aerospace applications. Martin Detrois, Paul Jablonski and Jeffery Hawk, all based at NETL’s Albany site, contributed to the article by conducting a review of work to understand the suitability of candidate alloys for multiple applications in advanced-ultra supercritical (AUSC) coal-fired power plants, which will burn hotter and more efficiently than current plants to provide more power with fewer emissions.
NETL Morgantown
NETL continues to adapt to current events by taking the Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) summer internship program virtual for the participating students for the first time. Participants include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors who will get one-on-one mentorship experiences working with NETL’s world-class scientists and engineers. Sean Sanguinito, a research scientist at the Lab’s Pittsburgh location who has mentored in the program for years, said that although the Lab’s facilities remain closed, the ability to take the program online has plenty of valuable experiences to offer such as modeling studies, data analysis/interpretation, literature review work, and other computational efforts. “While participants won’t be on-site, they will still learn about all the different components that are involved in being a research scientist,” he said. “Research does not simply include conducting laboratory experiments. The students will perform literature reviews, analyze existing data, interpret and plot existing data, write up their results, and present their conclusions in a professional manner.”
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL have selected 12 projects to receive approximately $6 million in federal funding to support high-risk fundamental research that advances the science of coal technology at U.S. colleges and universities. These projects are supported through the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002193, University Training and Research for Fossil Energy Applications. This FOA encompasses two separate university programs: the University Coal Research (UCR) Program and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Other Minority Institutions (HBCU/OMI) Program. Each program has its own requirements and restricted eligibility. Projects under this FOA support early-stage, fundamental research that advances the science of coal technologies, while also helping 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 that research.
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL have selected two projects to receive approximately $10 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects under funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002192, Extreme Environment Materials for Power Generation. The objective of this FOA was to competitively seek cost-shared applications for materials research, development, testing, and validation to enhance the reliability of the Nation’s existing fossil fleet and materials supply chain. Thermal fatigue and corrosion are two predominate damage mechanisms to steam cycle components that are operated under cyclic load conditions, which is why material joint reliability and surface technologies are the focus of this FOA.