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NETL oil and gas experts shared information about their work to improve the production, processing, transportation and storage of our nation’s abundant oil and natural gas resources this week at the 2019 Gastech Exhibition and Conference in Houston, Texas. The Gastech conference is one of the world’s largest energy conferences and features an extensive range of strategic and technical sessions focused on use of gas and LNG in the global energy mix. The exhibition brings together more than 35,000 industry professionals from across 30 industry sectors and includes 700 global exhibitors.  NETL’s Jared Ciferno, technology manager for the Lab’s onshore oil and gas, hydrates and midstream research, presented information about the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) work to discover ways to improve the effectiveness of shale gas well completions and increase recovery efforts through field experiments. A second presentation focused on the DOE’s work to develop tools, methods and technologies to cost-effectively enhance the safety and efficiency of the nation’s natural gas production, storage and transmission infrastructure.  
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NETL shared innovative research and development (R&D) projects focused on responsible water management and protection of the nation’s limited water resources at a national forum this week in Oklahoma. The Groundwater Protection Council hosted its 2019 Annual Forum Sept. 15-17 at Oklahoma City’s Sheraton Downtown. The organization’s mission is to promote the protection and conservation of groundwater resources by providing an important forum for stakeholder communication and research in order to improve the role of government in the protection and conservation of groundwater. During a Monday morning session focused on produced water, NETL State & Local Partnerships Water Lead Tom Feeley presented an overview of the Lab’s water and energy activities.
NETL researchers are exploring how heterogeneity, or a lack of uniform structure and composition, on a microscopic level can affect the performance of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) components. SOFCs, which, like batteries, create electricity directly through electrochemical reactions, are extremely efficient, require minimal water consumption and generate almost no emissions; however, SOFCs face issues with reliability, durability and cost. NETL researchers are working to overcome these problems by studying what effect heterogeneity has on fuel cell degradation, helping to clear the way to commercial development.
NETL will expand its work to determine the production feasibility of natural gas hydrates in Alaska through an international cooperative research effort and continued work with sister U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories. Gas hydrates are naturally occurring combinations of natural gas and water that form in specific conditions of relatively cold temperatures and relatively high pressures. They are known to occur in abundance in northern Alaska, as well as in the shallow sediments of deepwater continental margins around the world, including well-documented deposits in the Gulf of Mexico and off the southeastern coast of Japan.
FOA Announcement
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and NETL have announced approximately $110 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) projects under three funding opportunity announcements (FOAs).Approximately $75M is for awards selected under two FOAs announced earlier this fiscal year; $35M is for a new FOA. These FOAs further the Administration’s commitment to strengthening coal while protecting the environment. Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) is increasingly becoming widely accepted as a viable option for fossil-based energy sources—such as coal- or gas-fired power plants and other industrial sources—to lower their carbon dioxide ( CO2) emissions.
NETL K-12 STEM Education & Outreach program lead Ken Mechling served as a co-presenter at the Energy “Train the Trainer” Teacher Workshop in the Ridgway School District in Ridgway, Pennsylvania, Aug. 15.
NETL K-12 STEM Education & Outreach program lead Ken Mechling served as a co-presenter at the Energy “Train the Trainer” Teacher Workshop in the Ridgway School District in Ridgway, Pennsylvania, Aug. 15. During the workshop, educators and administrators learned more about topics surrounding energy and ways to incorporate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning into the classroom. Seneca Resources Company LLC, Apex Energy LLC, NETL and the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project teamed up to provide the workshop for teachers in grades 4-12, as well as administrators. During the workshop, Mechling shared STEM ideas with teachers to use with students during the school year. They also listened to speakers in the energy industry, shared energy resources and ideas with one another, investigated partnership opportunities and discussed ways to integrate energy and STEM career education into fun lessons for students.
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NETL oil and gas research successes and expertise are on display today and tomorrow at the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ (SPE) Liquids-Rich Basins Conference-North America in Midland, Texas. The event highlights advancements in technology, operations and best practices with a focus on innovative techniques and tactics that drive the production of energy from liquids-rich formations. The conference will also focus on emerging opportunities that will drive sustainability of North American plays. NETL has long been involved with technology innovations that led to the current level of oil and gas production activity in the U.S. such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
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NETL Director Brian Anderson will discuss the Lab’s recent innovations in coal-related technologies with experts from across the country during a keynote speech Thursday, Sept. 12, at this year’s annual National Coal Council fall meeting.   The meeting gives NETL the opportunity to showcase its world-class expertise in coal technology and inform experts on current research activities and goals, as well as learn from industry presentations. Anderson’s presentation will emphasize the Lab’s commitment to advancing next-generation power plants, upgrading the existing fleet and reducing both water use and the cost of carbon capture to make coal-fueled power generation more environmentally and economically sound. One NETL advancement in the area of carbon capture includes identifying advanced membrane materials that cut carbon capture costs, which boosts the viability of the nation’s coal-fired power fleet to meet America’s growing energy needs. Another NETL-led project is assessing water treatment technologies that produce fresh water from brine used in energy operations, which facilitates water reuse to increase efficiency and reduce consumption.
NETL researchers are using the Lab’s cutting-edge computational tools to model thousands of simulated microstructures as they seek to boost the performance and longevity of energy-efficient, near-zero-emission solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). SOFCs can efficiently convert a variety of abundant domestic fuels — including coal and natural gas — into clean power via electrochemical reactions. SOFCs are highly efficient and produce far less carbon dioxide, require very little water and use less fuel while providing the same amount of electricity, compared to today’s combustion-based fossil energy technologies. One of the primary obstacles to widespread commercialization of SOFCs is degradation, a gradual decline in performance that limits a fuel cell’s lifespan. Several suspected contributors to performance degradation are tied to the microstructural composition of the positive and negative electrodes, which are stacked on either side of an electrolyte within an SOFC to facilitate chemical reactions.
Coal Conference
Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg and NETL Director Brian J. Anderson, Ph.D., highlighted the Lab’s work to develop innovative fossil energy solutions at the recent 2019 International Pittsburgh Coal Conference. The conference, hosted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, was held Sept. 3-6 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in Pittsburgh. This year’s theme, “Clean Coal-Based Energy/Fuel and the Environment,” was central to NETL’s mission to discover, integrate and mature technology solutions that enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations. Winberg discussed energy production and policies during his plenary talk Sept. 4. Anderson addressed attendees Sept. 6, when the plenary session focuses on environmental issues. He reviewed the history of clean-coal technology development and expounded on the environmental impacts of clean coal utilization.