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Technical advisory board members of eXtremeMAT, a national effort focused on developing next-generation extreme-environment materials for use in advanced fossil energy power systems that operate in extreme environments, met at NETL’s Pittsburgh site Aug. 13, 2019, to assess progress and map plans for future research. Fossil energy transformational power technologies like ultra-supercritical steam plants and supercritical carbon-dioxide power have the potential to increase efficiencies and bolster clean coal efforts because they operate at higher temperatures and pressures. However, these technologies operate in harsher, more corrosive conditions compared to traditional power plants. In addition, current fossil power plants are increasingly subjected to cycling conditions due to increases in renewable energy sources onto the electricity grid. Accelerating the development of improved steels, superalloys and other advanced alloys is of paramount importance in deploying materials solutions to address materials challenges associated with both the existing fleet and future power systems.
During a visit to western North Dakota this week, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg got a firsthand look at technology originally developed for the U.S. Army but now to be assessed by NETL in producing fresh water from brine used in energy operations. The equipment is being tested at the University of North Dakota (UND) Energy & Environmental Research Center’s Brine Extraction and Storage Test site, which is among several research sites Winberg is touring. “This project is one of many NETL-led technologies underway within the Office of Fossil Energy to address competing water needs and challenges,” Winberg said. “Water is a limited resource, yet there’s an inextricable link between water and energy. We need treatment technologies that economically derive clean water from alternative sources and facilitate water reuse to increase efficiency and reduce water consumption.”
NETL’s Walter Wilfong, left and McMahan Gray, right, experiment with the BIAS technology.
NETL research has resulted in a technology that offers a practical, affordable and green approach to removing the threat of lead and other heavy metals from streams that ultimately contaminate the drinking water of American homes – a threat that jeopardizes the health of millions of children – and can also help recover valuable rare earth elements (REEs) from water supplies. The heart of the technology is an NETL-developed material known as basic immobilized amine/silica sorbent (BIAS). It was initially developed to separate gases as part of carbon capture research and has received numerous awards and recognitions for its effectiveness. NETL’s McMahan Gray led a Laboratory team consisting of Brian Kail, Walter Wilfong, Qiuming Wang, Fan Shi, Tom Tarka, and Tuo Ji that had ideas for wider applications for BIAS. They adapted the core BIAS technology to create a product that resists water, is regenerable, and can target heavy metals and even REEs from water supplies.
NETL K-12 STEM Education & Outreach Team
Throughout the school year, NETL’s K-12 STEM Education & Outreach team encourages positive attitudes surrounding science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by bringing engaging hands-on, minds-on activities to children. During the summer when classrooms are empty, the team continues to provide STEM instruction at day camps, summer programs and other educational events located near the Lab’s research sites in Pittsburgh; Morgantown, West Virginia; and Albany, Oregon. Team members, along with the Lab’s STEM Ambassadors, led four active learning experiences throughout July that served to enhance children’s critical thinking skills and foster an early interest in STEM topics.
Alloy and Manufacturing
Magnetic components are essential to America’s electricity delivery system, ultimately powering homes, businesses and more to drive the nation’s economy and enhance quality of life. Converging societal trends — including the evolution of the nation’s energy infrastructure, demand for more efficient electrical machinery and increasing electrification of transportation — have renewed interest in advanced power magnetics research aimed at developing more efficient, reliable and power-dense solutions. NETL is addressing these needs in collaboration with partners at Carnegie Mellon University, Metglas and Eaton. Researchers have developed two complementary technologies — a cobalt-based nanocrystalline alloy and an innovative strain anneal manufacturing process — that combine to produce inductive components with unprecedented magnetic capabilities for use in motors, electrical machinery and more. These patented, market-ready technologies link atomic-level changes to grid-scale impacts, offering the possibility of customizing magnetic properties for superior performance in a broad range of specific applications.
Rick Perry and Brian Anderson
U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry was at NETL in Pittsburgh Tuesday to learn about the Laboratory’s work to significantly increase oil and gas recovery effectiveness while reducing environmental impacts using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) techniques. NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., hosted the Secretary’s visit. Anderson said Secretary Perry visited to learn about how NETL is investigating emergent AI and ML techniques for upstream, midstream, and downstream conversion techniques that can revolutionize fossil energy opportunities. AI is a branch of computer science focused on creation of intelligent machines to increase accuracy and efficiency, reduce human errors, and reduce costs.  NETL is developing AI applications for a multiphase particle tracking software platform.  
As NETL prepares for its inaugural Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage, and Oil and Gas Technologies Integrated Project Review Meeting, “Addressing the Nation’s Energy Needs Through Technology Innovation,” the Lab is releasing three additional infographics to highlight the success of NETL-managed carbon capture research and development (R&D) projects that are reducing costs to ensure the availability of clean, reliable and affordable energy from America’s abundant domestic resources.
NETL presents the latest edition of our publication that showcases the Lab’s research on emerging energy technologies. NETL Edge shares the latest developments our talented scientists and engineers are advancing to use our nation’s energy resources efficiently and safely to bolster American’s energy independence. Check out the summer edition to learn more about our research to convert coal into valuable products, advance mixed matrix membranes for carbon capture, improve enhanced oil recovery processes and more. Click here to read more.
Three Patents
Three innovative NETL energy technologies have been awarded patents:
Group Photo
Industry, academia and government leaders from around the world are attending the NETL 2019 Workshop on Multiphase Flow Science (MFS) Tuesday through Thursday in Morgantown, West Virginia. MFS is the study of the flow of liquid or solid materials with different chemical properties. NETL hosts the workshop annually to allow attendees to share data and experiences that help guide future research. The Workshop goal is to advance use of physics-based multiphase simulations and experiments to help overcome the technical barriers associated with the development of highly efficient, environmentally acceptable energy and environmental and industrial technologies and processes. Attendees are sharing their experiences to help researchers better understand industry needs and priorities for future research.