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STEM
The Lab’s K-12 STEM Education & Outreach team assisted several events and led site tours of NETL-Morgantown throughout the month of January. The team also attended events surrounding the integration of technology into education in order to understand how the process of learning will change in an increasingly technology-dependent world. Additionally, representatives from the Lab’s STEM Ambassador program, which seeks to bridge the gap between students and researchers at NETL, shared information with students about the Lab’s capabilities at gatherings and competitions throughout the month to give insight into pursuing a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career path.
Map Story
NETL has developed an easy-to-use online story map that explores how northwestern Pennsylvania became the birthplace of the modern petroleum industry and the efforts taken by Laboratory scientists to address the ongoing environmental issues from the region’s oil boom more than 150 years ago. The NETL project, “Rediscovery of Abandoned Wells in the World’s First Oil Field,” is a web-based resource that reviews the early development of the oil industry in Venango County and the environmental damage that followed. The story map also walks users through the strategies deployed by NETL researchers to address the area’s proliferation of abandoned wells — some of which continue to emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas, decades after they were taken out of production. The website is interactive and can be used to access the Orphan Well Location Survey, a public tool to forward photos, GPS coordinates and other information about abandoned oil and gas wells anywhere in the United States to NETL researchers.
Hands on Minds on
On a brisk winter morning, teachers Jill Jakub and Kelly Bandik spoke in warm, glowing terms about the strong partnership between their school and NETL. The second-grade teachers at Clara Barton Elementary, part of the West Mifflin Area School District, praised NETL’s K-12 STEM Education & Outreach team for helping them infuse lessons with hands-on approaches that open young minds and make it fun and exciting to learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) topics. “Children, especially in early grade levels, learn better when they are engaged, working with their hands, even moving about in the classroom,” said Jakub. “NETL has provided us with a lot of opportunities, ideas and resources to develop and lead lessons that use this approach.”
Brian Anderson
NETL Director Brian Anderson will showcase the Lab’s work and dedication to solving America’s energy challenges when he addresses the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Energy Initiative at a sold-out event Feb. 19, 2020, at the Wong Auditorium. Anderson will discuss how NETL advances cost-effective implementation of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies throughout the power-generation sector to ensure Americans continue to have access to clean, affordable and reliable energy.
Story Photo
In collaboration with the Office of Fossil Energy, NETL will manage the implementation of a new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program 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). “We are excited and well-positioned to serve in this critical role on behalf of DOE,” said Brian J. Anderson, Ph.D., director of NETL. “The technologies to be developed and matured through this program are essential components to build a resilient and secure electricity network to serve the nation’s energy needs.” As the lead research and development office for DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE), NETL will assist FE with developing a comprehensive strategy to expand FE’s current portfolio to include an FE Energy Storage Technology Research Program. Updates will be posted on the NETL Energy Storage for Fossil Fuel Energy Systems website. The new program promotes energy storage in three categories. Those categories and their benefits are:
REE
As the world continues its transition to a highly tech-driven economy, NETL supports innovative techniques to develop a reliable domestic supply of rare earth elements (REEs), which are vital materials for modern technologies. To that end, NETL is collaborating with the University of Kentucky and their subcontractor Virginia Tech to demonstrate a novel process that could see America’s coal country as a new supplier of these vital materials. REEs, which represent the 15 elements of the lanthanide series plus scandium and yttrium, are used in the manufacture of smart phones, cars, television screens and defense technologies; even windmills and other green energy equipment need these resources to function. The “rare” in rare earth elements stem not from a scarcity of deposits, but rather, in their sparse concentrations. However, one of the country’s historic power sources, coal, could become an abundant and easily accessible domestic REE source.
FOA Logo
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL have issued a request for information (RFI) for coal/biomass co-firing emission profiles and the impacts of those technologies on carbon capture systems. FE currently funds a large research and development program in carbon capture, and within its portfolio, FE funds work associated with negative emissions technologies (NETs). NETs consist of technologies such as direct air capture and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Coal/biomass co-firing combined with carbon capture, or BECCS, is an emerging area of interest for FE. DOE-FE issued this RFI to understand the challenges of coal/biomass co-firing emissions on carbon capture systems and the availability of existing facilities that could perform testing. DOE is seeking information from stakeholders, industry, National Laboratories, and academia. This is solely a request for information and is not a funding opportunity announcement (FOA). DOE is not accepting applications for this RFI.
Day of Women and Girls in Science.
The Lab salutes the contribution of its female scientists, researchers, engineers and support staff for their contributions in overcoming the world’s energy challenges in a manner compatible with environmental integrity and economic development. Over the past 15 years, the global community has taken strides to inspire women and girls to pursue a career path in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. However, that process is far from finished. At present, less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women. According to data collected by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, only around 30% of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. Globally, female students’ enrollment is particularly low in integrated communications technology (3%), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5%) and in engineering, manufacturing and construction (8%). On Dec. 22, 2015, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution establishing an annual International Day to recognize the critical role women and girls play in science and technology communities.
WVSB Winners
The West Virginia Science Bowl tested students’ knowledge of math and science with round-robin and double-elimination competition rounds. Middle school teams competed Friday, followed by high school students on Saturday. This year’s West Virginia competition included welcoming remarks from Congressman David McKinley, as well as representatives from NETL and WVU. Participants also explored hands-on engineering activities and an academic information fair from institutions around the state. Coming in at second, third and fourth place were George Washington High School 1, Charleston, WV, Morgantown High School 2, Morgantown, WV, George Washington High School 2, Charleston, WV, respectively. In the middle school division, second, third and fourth place were awarded to St. Francis de Sales Central 1, Western, WV, Triadelphia 1, Triadelphia, WV, and Suncrest 2, Morgantown, WV, respectively.
Kinsey Walker
As NETL’s new STEM education and outreach specialist, dedicated to boosting the Lab’s community impact and improve educational outcomes in West Virginia, Kinsey Walker aims to expand student participation in this vitally important subset across the state through unity among program providers. A native of South Charleston, Walker attended the College of Wooster in rural Ohio before pursuing her master’s degree at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee to study public policy and education. Before joining NETL, she worked as a classroom instructor, teaching kindergarten through fifth grade and later grades 5-8. She also worked as an adjunct professor teaching courses in social science, chemistry, biology, engineering, and computer science majors at the University of Charleston. In addition to teaching, she helped establish teams that created operation structures and staff at new schools in Tennessee and Mississippi. This position is dedicated to ensuring the school’s day-to-day workings run smoothly so administrators can focus on school culture and curriculum.