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Brian and UCFER Hands
NETL leadership and experts, including NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., joined representatives from 11 universities as they gathered virtually to discuss project successes during the 2021 University Coalition for Fossil Energy Research (UCFER) Annual Technical Review Meeting this week. NETL Deputy Director and Chief Technology Officer Sean Plasynski, Ph.D., kicked off the second day of the meeting with opening remarks, proceeded by an administrative update from UCFER DOE Project Officer Omer Bakshi. “UCFER has provided significant results since its inception six years ago,” Bakshi said. “To date, 18 of the 43 funded projects have been completed, and 25 are ongoing. The presentations we saw this week confirmed that the research of our partner universities will continue to lead to important breakthroughs for the decarbonization of the economy.”
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) announced the selection of three projects to receive $1.5 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) to explore how carbon-based building materials can support the Administration’s commitment to building a clean energy economy that creates good-paying union jobs and transforms disadvantaged areas into healthy and thriving communities. The selected projects will investigate the impacts of using carbon-based building materials, including opportunities to develop superior construction materials that offer lower lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions and other improved properties. Superior carbon-based building materials may also contribute to the development of a new industry—creating new jobs for communities that have disproportionately suffered adverse economic, health, environmental, and climate impacts.  The selected projects follow:
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has selected four projects to receive $2 million in Federal funding for cost-shared research and development under funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002376, Enabling Gasification of Blended Coal, Biomass and Plastic Wastes to Produce Hydrogen with Potential for Net Negative Carbon Dioxide Emissions. This FOA focuses on the advancement of net-negative carbon emitting technologies that aim to produce hydrogen or other high-value fuels, whether as the sole product or as a co-product. Developing co-gasification technologies is a way to introduce net-negative carbon technologies that can help alleviate concerns about potential feedstock availability and other operational issues. The four projects selected are described below:
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Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) announced plans to make more than $7 million in Federal funding available for cost-shared research and development to support the design, validation, and fabrication of a prototype carbon-based building. Funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002438, Design, R&D, Validation, and Fabrication of a Prototype Carbon-Based Building, seeks to solicit and competitively award research and development to validate carbon-based materials suitable for construction purposes. The FOA will include a single topic area that will focus on the design and build of a partial structure using carbon-based building materials.
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL has selected 14 projects to receive $8.7 million in Federal funding for cost-shared research and development under Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002185, Coal-Derived Materials for Building, Infrastructure, and Other Applications, with the goal of fostering new uses for domestic coal resources. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will manage the projects, which will support the Lab’s Advanced Coal Processing Technologies Program. The program is focused on improving coal feedstock for power production and steel-making, producing high-value solid products from coal, and alternative technologies to produce high-performance carbon material from coal.
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and NETL have has announced up to $2 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002376, Enabling Gasification of Blended Coal, Biomass, and Plastic Wastes to Produce Hydrogen with Potential for Net-Negative Carbon Dioxide Emissions. This FOA seeks applications for the research and development of the co-gasification of coal with biomass and plastic wastes. The aim is to advance net-negative carbon technologies that can produce hydrogen or other high-value fuels, either as the sole product or as a co-product. Like coal, waste plastics are ideal feedstocks to blend with biomass due to their extremely high volatile matter and low moisture and ash content. As a result, the development of co-gasification technologies sought in this FOA will help alleviate concerns over potential feedstock availability and other operational issues.
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.
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Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NETL have selected two projects to receive approximately $2 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development. The projects will improve coal combustion residuals management under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002190, Research for Innovative Emission Reduction Technologies Related to Coal Combustion Residuals. The selected projects represent the first round of selections for this FOA. Applications are still being accepted for the second round of the FOA, which closes on September 30, 2020. Coal combustion residuals (CCRs) consist primarily of fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag, flue gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum, and other FGD-solid by-products, from coal-fired power plants. Research and development efforts under this FOA aim to economically increase the beneficial use and management of CCRs, reducing the volume needed to be disposed of in impoundments while protecting the environment and the health and safety of the public.
Microwave reactor at NETL in Pittsburgh
NETL researchers envision a day when carbon dioxide (CO2) may transition from a waste gas that contributes to climate change to a high-value feedstock used in the production of fuels, pharmaceuticals, plastics, fertilizers and a range of consumer goods. In a recent groundbreaking study, researchers reported making important strides in dry reforming, a process that reacts CO2, instead of steam or oxygen, with methane to yield the mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide known as synthesis gas or syngas, a chemical building block for many products. The promising technology driving a greener future for CO2 is microwave-assisted dry reforming of methane (MW-DRM). According to NETL researchers, microwave systems enable the high-temperature reactions required by the process because they can selectively and efficiently heat the catalyst bed in the microwave reactor without needing to heat the entire reactor volume.
COAL
Ongoing NETL research into advanced concrete additives could one day revolutionize the construction of bridges and other infrastructure, saving communities money and time while also spurring economic demand for one of the nation’s most abundant and historic resources: coal. Due to its low cost, versatility, and malleability concrete remains the most popular construction material in the world. However, concrete, at least in its conventional cement paste composition, has several limitations. These include susceptibility to chemical corrosion from the salts used for deicing roads and deterioration from the freeze-thaw cycles that occur when water penetrates cracks during winter months. Traditional concrete also suffers from lower tensile strength, which is the maximum stress that a material can withstand while being stretched or pulled before breaking. These drawbacks lead to lengthy and costly inspection periods and repairs, often disrupting the flow of traffic and public life in general in the process.