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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.”
Several collaborative projects are under way at #NETL and its partner labs to develop advanced air separation technologies that can produce bulk oxygen that is needed to make clean hydrogen fuel.
NETL researchers, and project partners at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory, are developing advanced air separation technologies that produce oxygen, a valuable gas that can be used to make hydrogen fuel, a much-needed commodity for transitioning to a clean power sector.  Air separation technologies separate atmospheric air into its primary components, nitrogen and oxygen, which can be used for valuable commercial supplies, industrial applications, manufacturing and more.  The projects NETL and its collaborators are advancing are actively addressing climate change by reducing CO2 emissions via clean hydrogen generation in oxygen-blown, gasification-based plants with carbon capture and storage.  Clean hydrogen can be generated from biomass and coal wastes in this manner with zero carbon emissions. The hydrogen can be used as a clean fuel in turbine applications. 
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NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., will welcome representatives from 11 universities for the virtual 2021 University Coalition for Fossil Energy Research (UCFER) Annual Technical Review Meeting Oct. 5-6, 2021. “Partnerships like UCFER help the Lab leverage its connections, resources and expertise to develop critical carbon management technologies,” Anderson said. “The dedication of our University partners across UCFER to our mission is an inspiration when we see the innovations from see the best and brightest minds from universities across the country.” During the two-day event, researchers for selected active projects will give virtual presentations on technologies spanning topics that will include carbon capture, carbon storage, crosscutting research, carbon ore processing, fuel cell technologies, gasification systems, coal and coal-biomass to liquids, natural gas technologies, and rare earth elements.
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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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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.
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Many of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers will present new energy technologies at the NETL-hosted Spring Fossil Energy R&D Project Review Meeting Tuesday, April 21, through Thursday, April 23, at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh. The meeting also is expected to attract representatives from electric utilities, as well as research universities and private industries who are interested in partnering with NETL on current and future projects. The conference will explore how research and development (R&D) activities sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) are advancing transformative science and innovative technologies that enable the reliable, efficient, affordable and environmentally sound use of fossil fuels. Fossil energy sources constitute more than 80% of the country’s total energy use, and are important to the nation’s security, economic prosperity and growth. Focus areas will include:
NETL Reaction Engineering team member Jonathan Lekse, Ph.D.
NETL’s work with oxygen carrier technology is making waves in the alternative energy field. The Lab’s material research is cutting costs while maximizing efficiency and contributing to America’s future in clean energy while working to mitigate environmental impact. Specifically, NETL is exercising its world-class expertise through the investigation of special materials known as metal oxides, which are important due to their unique properties and energy applications. These oxides can serve multiple purposes as oxygen carriers, which provide oxygen during gasification.
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and NETL have issued a Notice of Intent for a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) expected to fund cost-shared research and development (R&D) projects on next-generation coal gasification technologies that have lower capital costs than traditional utility-scale plants. The objective of DE-FOA-0001994, Next Generation Gasifier Concepts and Components to Advance Modular Coal Gasification, is to competitively solicit and award R&D projects that will develop advanced technology that can implement coal gasification processes into small modular systems. FE seeks projects that will also work toward increasing the efficiency of producing coal syngas for applications in power generation or combined heat and power through process and/or reaction intensification. FE’s Gasification Program will support this FOA.
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Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NETL have announced up to $87.3 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) projects for advanced coal technologies and research. DOE Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg announced this R&D funding at the Annual Project Review Meeting for Crosscutting, Rare Earth Elements, Gasification, and Transformative Power Generation at the National Energy Technology Laboratory. “Coal-fueled power plants are a significant source of electrical power generation in the United States. The goal with these projects is to ensure that the United States can have a fleet of coal-fired power plants that provides stable power generation with operational flexibility, high efficiency, low emissions, and lower costs for consumers,” said Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg. “By investing in this R&D, we will enable the United States to continue maximizing its domestic energy resources while protecting our supply of reliable and affordable electricity.” In 2017, coal was the second-largest energy source for electricity generation in the United States. 
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Small-scale, modular power systems offer distinct advantages amid a changing energy landscape. Among other benefits, they expedite technology development, cut investment and operating costs, improve availability, reduce environmental impacts and offer flexibility in meeting location-specific needs. As NETL strives to develop technological solutions to the nation’s energy challenges, the Lab is investigating ways to improve modular systems that convert coal to energy and other useful products through gasification. The combustion-free gasification process relies on chemical reactions to convert coal into clean power, chemicals, hydrogen and transportation fuels within an enclosed space. Gasification also captures carbon for storage or enhanced oil recovery. The addition of pure oxygen enhances gasification systems; however, producing pure oxygen from ambient air within a modular system is a challenge. That’s why scientists at NETL are exploring the use of metal oxides, known as oxygen carriers, which absorb oxygen from the air and release it as a pure oxygen stream.