Back to Top
Skip to main content
 
 
 
Research Vessel Hugh R. Sharp
A recent interagency federal research cruise on the University of Delaware’s research vessel Hugh R. Sharp, which sailed along the Mid-Atlantic margin to characterize methane hydrate deposits, yielded 2,000 km of Multi-Channel Seismic (MCS) System data that confirmed previously detected methane hydrates and discovered new deposits. NETL supported the cruise. A methane hydrate is a cage-like lattice of ice that contains trapped molecules of methane, the chief constituent of natural gas. If a methane hydrate is warmed or depressurized, it reverts to water and natural gas. When brought to the earth's surface, one cubic foot of gas hydrate releases up to 180 cubic feet of natural gas, making it a potentially massive new energy source. Hydrate deposits occur under Arctic permafrost and beneath the ocean floor along continental margins, like the Mid-Atlantic.
Coal-fired power plants are major producers of coal ash. The components of the ash vary, depending on the type and origin of the coal. Major ingredients in coal ash include rare earth minerals and elements that remain after the coal is burned in the power plant boiler.
In a project managed and co-funded by DOE Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), an industry/academic research partnership has taken a significant step toward developing a pilot-scale test facility for creating a more effective way to harvest rare earth elements (REEs) from coal ash – a by-product of coal combustion, created when coal is burned to generate energy. REEs are 17 elements on the periodic table that have significant value for national security, energy independence, and economic growth because they are used in high-technology products such as catalysts, cell phones, hard drives, hybrid engines, lasers, magnets, medical devices, televisions, and other applications. The U.S. has been importing REEs from markets dominated by other countries. The development of an economically competitive domestic supply of REEs from U.S. coal and coal by-products will help to maintain our nation’s economic growth and national security.
A vast pipeline network spanning more than 3 million miles delivers over 24 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to 70 million-plus consumers in the United States each year.
As NETL strives to develop technology solutions to the nation’s energy challenges, which includes improving the health, safety and security of all Americans, the Lab is working to locate and quantify methane leaks in the natural gas infrastructure. A vast pipeline network spanning more than 3 million miles delivers over 24 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to 70 million-plus consumers in the United States each year. This infrastructure includes three categories of pipelines: gathering lines, which transport raw natural gas from wells for processing; transmission lines, which move processed natural gas to distribution centers and storage facilities across the country; and distribution lines, which deliver natural gas to customers. Transmission and distribution lines are typically well recorded and regulated. However, fewer inspections are required for small-diameter gathering lines, which are also less likely to be mapped or recorded. These gathering lines are of particular interest to NETL researchers, as leaks from gathering lines are not as well characterized.
The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, W.Va. will host a visit Thursday by the West Virginia Chapter of ASHRAE
The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, W.Va. will host a visit Thursday by the West Virginia Chapter of ASHRAE – an organization that advances the art and science of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration to promote sustainability. NETL, one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 17 national laboratories, has been working with the organization for more than five years to share, learn about, develop and promote adoption of innovative technologies that improve building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality and sustainability. According to Joseph Kanosky of NETL facility operations, the ASHRAE visitors will participate in a workshop and visit various locations throughout the NETL site where relevant building innovations are being demonstrated. NETL officials will present participants with an overview of the laboratory’s research, operations, and facilities before leading ASHRAE visitors on a tour of NETL’s high-performance office buildings and other facilities where green initiatives involving solar panels, light tubes, rainwater collection and a green roof have been implemented.
MSEEL test site in the Morgantown Industrial Park
Data from three years’ worth of research from the Marcellus Shale Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (MSEEL) – a research partnership funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) that involves West Virginia University (WVU) and Northeast Natural Energy (NNE) – will guide more extensive testing at a new well site near Blacksville, W.Va. MSEEL is a cornerstone of NETL’s unconventional oil and gas program. The new work--west of the initial Morgantown Industrial Park site in western Monongalia County, W.Va. – is geared toward improving gas recovery from horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing at sites throughout the region. Accordingto the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Marcellus Shale play, extends in the subsurface from New York State in the north to northeastern Kentucky and Tennessee in the south and is the most prolific natural gas-producing formation in the Appalachian basin.The formation footprint covers about 95,000 square miles with a prospective area about 72,000 square miles.
NETL has created a miniaturized version of the LIBS technology seen here that can be used for REE characterization.
In the middle of the 20th century, the United States became a leading global supplier of rare earth elements (REEs). These valuable materials were used extensively in the manufacture of innovative technologies like color televisions and other high-tech devices of the time. However, U.S. dominance in the rare earth market began to slip near the turn of the 21st century, and now China exports almost all the world’s rare earth elements. Modern technologies, like those used in energy and defense systems, still rely heavily on rare earths for their manufacture, so the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working diligently to secure a domestic supply. To meet this goal, researchers at DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) are researching better ways to characterize a variety of REE sources. Among the many ways in which NETL is approaching this challenge, is a new miniaturized laser technology that shows promise for quantifying the concentrations of rare earths in sources like coal and coal-related byproducts.
A U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy (FE) leadership team headed by Assistant Secretary for FE Steve E. Winberg
A U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy (FE) leadership team headed by Assistant Secretary for FE Steve E. Winberg visited NETL’s Albany, Ore., site Wednesday, Aug. 29, for detailed tours of the Laboratory’s technical facilities, briefings by NETL experts, and a site-wide employee town hall meeting. Winberg was joined by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Clean Coal and Carbon Management Lou Hrkman, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas Shawn Bennett for the Albany visit. They were hosted by NETL Acting Director Sean Plasynski, NETL Chief Financial Officer Jim Wilson, and NETL Research & Innovation Center Executive Director Bryan Morreale.   During the town hall session, Plasynski introduced the DOE visitors and Winberg delivered remarks to brief employees about DOE initiatives and priorities before taking questions from the audience. In the afternoon, the delegation was briefed on these Albany research topics and took a detailed tour of related Albany facilities:
NETL News
Two NETL Research Associates recently earned their Ph.Ds. as part of the Lab’s Science Education Research Programs, which are offered through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. Jarret Riley and William “Trey” Benincosa successfully defended doctoral theses that consisted of research performed entirely during their time at NETL, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Combustion Program. "Jarrett Riley, Ph.D. with his mentor Ranjani Siriwardane, Ph.D." “Defending a thesis is like the reveal of a sculpture,” said Riley. “You as the researcher and student have turned an arbitrary idea into a materialized, refined and polished product.”
Funding Opportunity Announcement
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has selected two projects to receive approximately $7 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development. These projects will address technical research needs and key challenges in advancing associated geologic storage in support of DOE’s Carbon Storage Program. More specifically, the selected projects will advance the development and validation of technologies through computational, analytical, bench-scale, and field laboratories studies in storage complexes located in diverse geologic settings. These advanced technologies will enable the safe, cost-effective, and permanent geologic storage of carbon dioxide (CO2). Selected under FOA DE-FOA-0001829, Developing Technologies for Advancement of Associated Geologic Storage in Basinal Geo-Laboratories, the projects will also support the development of best practices for commercial implementation of carbon storage technologies.
NETL Develops Methods and Tools to Estimate Prospective CO2 Storage in the Subsurface
A CO2 Injection Well NETL has developed a tool to better predict carbon dioxide (CO2) storage potential in geologic formations. The innovation is called CO2-SCREEN and was designed to estimate underground storage potential for CO2 captured from fossil fuel burning power plants. Large, permeable, porous rock volumes are ideal for securely storing captured CO2. Storage of CO2 in these geological reservoirs is crucial for successful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. CO2-SCREEN, which stands for CO2 Storage prospeCtive Resource Estimation Excel aNalysis, was developed to provide a substantive, user-friendly, and consistent mechanism to calculate CO2 storage resources so that decision makers have enough information to reach crucial conclusions.