Back to Top
Skip to main content
NETL presents the latest edition of its publication that showcases research on emerging energy technologies. NETL Edge shares the latest developments the Lab’s mission to drive innovation and deliver solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. In this issue, we feature key research and technology development in integrated energy systems for net-zero carbon electricity. Check out the newly released edition of NETL Edge to learn more about combining technology and versatility to optimize energy production and lower emissions, finding answers to carbon storage in by using advanced technologies to examine rock cores, building a strong foundation for integrated energy systems through energy conversion research and more.
With support from partners in academia, NETL researchers have taken steps toward realizing the potential of rotating detonation combustion technology, which can offer a number of advantages over conventional internal combustion. Internal combustion engines such as gas turbines are effective, but they suffer pressure and power output limitations. Rotating detonating engines create controlled, continuous detonation waves that rotate inside a modified gas turbine combustion chamber. This allows the engines to be able to avoid pressure losses and the subsequent decreases in efficiency that occur with conventional gas turbine engines. The rotating detonation process enables more of a fuel’s energy to be captured and utilized, resulting in higher power output, less fuel consumption, a smaller industrial footprint and reduced environmental impact. 
FOA Logo
Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL announced selection of four projects for cost-shared research and development under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA), DE-FOA-0002180, Design Development and System Integration Design Studies for Coal FIRST Concepts. When fully negotiated and awarded, it is estimated that approximately $80 million in federal funding will be provided to these projects. DOE’s early stage research for the Coal FIRST  Initiative supports the development of 21st century electricity and hydrogen energy plants that have net-zero carbon emissions. These plants will be fueled by coal, natural gas, biomass, and waste plastics and incorporate carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies.
Combustion Laboratory
Researchers in NETL’s Fundamental Combustion Laboratory (FCL) have developed advanced diagnostic techniques that are providing accurate, real-world data to validate models of next-generation fossil fuel and combustible renewable (i.e., hydrogen) technologies like direct power extraction (DPE) systems and rotating detonation engines (RDE). As the models become more refined, these technologies can be efficiently designed and deployed to realize significant performance benefits, which will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide more affordable and reliable energy for the nation. “The diagnostic techniques we’ve developed are unique in that they are very application-specific,” Clint Bedick, Ph.D., who works in the FCL, said. “Whether it’s finding ways of measuring the intense heat and electrical conductivity of an oxy-combustion flame or recording an RDE shock wave that lasts only milliseconds, we tailor our approach for the specific environments in which we’ll be measuring.”
NETL researchers envision a future in which hospitals, universities and other institutions will use on-site combined heat and power (CHP) systems to produce their own electricity, as well as the energy to heat and cool their buildings, while burning less fuel and releasing fewer emissions into the atmosphere. To make that happen, NETL’s Thermal Sciences Team is designing advanced airfoils for natural gas turbines to enable CHP systems to operate with greater efficiency. “Higher efficiency increases power output using the same quantity of fuel, which translates into lower costs to run a CHP system and reduced carbon dioxide emissions,” said Doug Straub, Ph.D., who works at the Lab’s campus in Morgantown, West Virginia. The goal of the Advanced Turbine Airfoils for Efficient Combined Heat and Power Systems project is to evaluate how new airfoil cooling designs, new materials and additive manufacturing technologies can raise the efficiency of turbines used in CHP systems.
A Rotating Detonation Engine operating at the Air Force Research Laboratory.
NETL’s water-cooled Rotating Detonation Engine installed in the Lab’s High Pressure Combustion Test Facility in Morgantown, W.Va. By partnering with a host of federal agencies including NASA, NETL’s rotating detonation engine (RDE) technology development can proceed with greater effectiveness and efficiency, potentially speeding up real-world applications of the engines.
Briggs White
NETL’s Briggs White will provide an update on the development of the nation’s Fossil Energy Advanced Energy Storage Program during a webinar from 11 a.m. to noon EST on Wednesday, April 22. During the U.S. Energy Association (USEA) webinar, White will provide an overview about the new program, explain its relationship to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Storage Grand Challenge and lead a discussion regarding future program plans. White serves as a technology manager at NETL where he manages three research and development programs related to fossil energy applications — High Performance Materials, Water Management and Energy Storage. In collaboration with the Office of Fossil Energy, NETL has implemented the DOE initiative to accelerate the development and integration of energy storage technologies to ensure reliable supplies of affordable, clean energy from the nation’s fossil energy assets (both coal and natural gas).
Mac Kay
Working with university and industry partners, NETL is finding new ways to use concrete, a widely available and inexpensive building material, to create next-generation energy-storage systems and ensure the availability of reliable, affordable electricity as the nation shifts to renewable sources such as wind and solar. Concrete thermal energy storage (CTES) systems may be significantly less expensive than other technologies and have the potential to meet longer-duration storage needs, which will be critical as more renewable intermittent energy sources come online. NETL-supported projects under way are investigating how to transfer high-temperature, high-pressure steam produced by fossil fuel-burning power plants to concrete modules, where the thermal energy can be stored until needed and returned to the power plant to generate electricity in response to grid demand. As the research arm of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE), NETL is developing a comprehensive strategy to expand FE’s current portfolio to include an Energy Storage Technology Research Program.
Story One
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:
FOA Logo
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NETL have announced up to $64 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) projects under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA), Critical Components for Coal FIRST Power Plants of the Future. “Coal is a critical resource for grid stability that will be used in developing countries around the world well into the future as they build their economies,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “Investing in R&D for cleaner coal technologies will allow us to develop the next generation of coal plants for countries to use this valuable natural resource in an environmentally responsible manner.” DOE’s Coal FIRST (Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, Transformative) initiative will develop the coal plant of the future needed to provide secure and reliable power to the U.S. grid. Evaluation of potential future power plant concept designs assisted in defining the R&D sought under this FOA. DOE will solicit cost-shared projects focused on developing the critical components required by Coal FIRST and transformational coal-fired systems.