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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.
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and NETL have selected seven Coal FIRST (Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, Transformative) conceptual designs to receive $7 million and proceed with preliminary front-end engineering design (pre-FEED) studies. These designs have been selected from 13 conceptual design studies that were completed by 11 different recipients as part of the first phase of the effort. The DOE selected the designs as a part of its Coal FIRST initiative, which seeks to advance coal power generation beyond today’s state-of-the-art capabilities and make coal-fired power plants better adapted to the evolving electrical grid. Research and development resulting from this initiative will underpin coal-fired power plants that are capable of flexible operations to meet the needs of the evolving grid, use innovative cutting-edge components that improve efficiency and reduce emissions, provide resilient power to Americans, are small compared to today’s conventional utility-scale coal, and will transform how coal technologies are designed and manufactured.
FOA Announcement
Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL have selected 17 projects to receive approximately $39 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development under funding opportunity announcement Improving Efficiency, Reliability, and Flexibility of Existing Coal-Based Power Plants.
FOA Announcement Logo
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NETL have announced today investments for the Coal FIRST (Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, and Transformative) initiative, which aims to develop coal plants of the future that will provide secure, stable, reliable power with near zero emissions.  “Coal is an abundant, affordable, resilient, and reliable energy source that, through innovation, will continue to be an important part of the U.S. portfolio for decades to come,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “The Department’s Coal FIRST initiative is helping the Nation secure its domestic power supply by developing plants that are not only more reliable, resilient, efficient, and near zero emissions, but that can adapt to the changing electrical grid.” Under the Coal FIRST initiative, DOE is supporting research and development (R&D) projects that will help develop plants that: