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FOA Logo
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and NETL have has announced up to $2 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002376, Enabling Gasification of Blended Coal, Biomass, and Plastic Wastes to Produce Hydrogen with Potential for Net-Negative Carbon Dioxide Emissions. This FOA seeks applications for the research and development of the co-gasification of coal with biomass and plastic wastes. The aim is to advance net-negative carbon technologies that can produce hydrogen or other high-value fuels, either as the sole product or as a co-product. Like coal, waste plastics are ideal feedstocks to blend with biomass due to their extremely high volatile matter and low moisture and ash content. As a result, the development of co-gasification technologies sought in this FOA will help alleviate concerns over potential feedstock availability and other operational issues.
Welding
A program supported by NETL will prepare a new generation of welders in the use of advanced alloys that will enable electric generating stations to run with greater efficiency, produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions and supply affordable electricity using the nation’s abundant fossil energy resources.   Today, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Lab’s partner in the Advanced Welding Workforce Initiative (AWWI), issued a request for proposals (RFP) inviting states, counties and cities, institutions of higher education, unions and other organizations to develop training programs to teach high-tech welding skills that can be used in the energy sector. These skills will also be broadly applicable for positions in the emerging aerospace, aviation, automotive and petrochemical industries, which will need welders and other employees with expertise in working with high-performance materials.
Diversity
Working with researchers from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds has made an indelible impression on NETL’s Mike Bergen about the positive power of diversity. “I am a huge proponent of diversity,” said Bergen, a research engineer whose duties include managing 42 employees. “Scientists and engineers from other countries are often taught differently and have alternate ways to approach challenges and problems. Diversity creates synergy. It brings a fresh set of eyes to an issue, and it makes the team stronger.” At NETL, where diversity is a priority across all Lab operations, Bergen stands out as a passionate advocate for inclusion and developing workplace cultures that are welcoming to all and where every individual can make important contributions. One of Bergen’s areas of responsibility is NETL’s Reaction Engineering Team. He points to diversity on this team as a stellar example of how men and women from different cultures and countries of origin — including Cameroon, China, Egypt, India and the United States — can learn to appreciate and value their differences and use them to help solve complex energy research issues.
MOU LOGO
Building on five years of success, NETL and its partners will meet to chart the next steps in their ongoing efforts to shape Pittsburgh into a “Clean Energy City of the Future.” NETL will host the meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 23, with representatives from the City of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne Light Company, RAND Corporation and other stakeholders in attendance. Due to COVID-19, a virtual meeting is planned.   The NETL-City of Pittsburgh Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Partnership was launched in 2015 to transform the city’s energy system and aging infrastructure. The MOU provides an opportunity for NETL to demonstrate how fossil energy is a part of the clean energy future, and to show how technologies invented at NETL can support safe and efficient energy use.
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s NETL will take part in Powering Partnerships, a webinar for businesses to learn about bidding and contracting opportunities with the federal government. Businesses are invited to participate in this free virtual event from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 24. The webinar will be hosted by the Small Business Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Click here to register. Registrants will be provided with the webinar link prior to the the session. All types of business are encouraged to attend. The are many ways for research organizations to collaborate with DOE and NETL. These areas include advanced manufacturing, carbon dioxide capture, artificial intelligence and data analytics, energy storage, sensor development, rare earth elements and critical minerals, supply chain and fulfillment, natural gas utilization, distributed intelligent controls, technology (hardware and software) integration and others. Providers of commercial services such as construction, data management, engineering and HVAC also are invited.
Low rank coal ash after rapid expansion by sCO2 in an attempt to alter surface area.
With support from NETL, researchers from the University of North Dakota (UND) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) identified unique pathways and pretreatments to extract rare earth elements (REEs) from low-rank coal (LRC) ash in a more economical and environmentally sustainable manner that can be adjusted to meet variable conditions. LRCs, such as lignites, are one of the most abundant fossil fuel sources in the world.  NETL-supported project with UND and PNNL researchers has shown that the ash from LRCs can be a potentially viable source of REEs. The research team conducted an extensive characterization effort to understand the form, associations and partitioning of the REEs along with other relevant elements and minerals in the fly ash samples, as well as the ash chemistry, mineralogy and morphology. Understanding these intricacies was a vital step in developing the method for extraction and recovery of the contained LCR REEs.
Tools and models from the ORM have been applied to a range of research problems and decision scenarios to evaluate and reduce risks associated with extreme offshore hydrocarbon development.
NETL recently had the opportunity to present its capabilities in the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to members of the oil and natural gas producing industries. The Lab was invited to present its big-data driven Offshore Risk Modeling (ORM) suite at the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC)'s, Advanced Rig Technology Committee Forum. Kelly Rose, a geo-data scientist for NETL gave a presentation entitled "Data to Discovery – Big data, machine learning informed tools for offshore spill prevention" on Monday, Aug. 31 via virtual seminar. Tools and models from ORM have been applied to a range of research problems and decision scenarios to evaluate and reduce risks associated with extreme offshore hydrocarbon development. Analyses using this suite have been performed to predict subsurface geologic properties such as pressure, temperature, porosity and permeability in offshore regions for which there is little or no data.
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NETL Director Brian Anderson will open an afternoon discussion devoted to the development of advanced energy storage technologies and the role the Lab is playing to move those projects forward. Anderson’s remarks, which begin at 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, will kick off the sixth week of DOE-NETL 2020 Virtual Integrated Project Review Meeting sessions. These sessions are designed to share updates on various NETL-supported projects and programs to address the nation’s energy challenges. The director’s remarks will be followed by a presentation about the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy’s Advanced Energy Storage program and a panel discussion featuring representatives from NETL, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Electric Power Research Institute and Sunflower Electric.
Desk
As part of FUEL 2020, a continuing virtual conference hosted by VertueLab throughout the month of September, representatives from NETL will participate in a Thursday, Sept. 17 panel titled “Innovating Through a Recession with Federal and National Lab Support.” The event will highlight the Lab’s key programs and activities and share tips and tricks for working with a national lab and securing federal funding. James Ferguson, NETL’s state and local partnerships manager and David Alman, associate director of materials engineering and manufacturing, will present a lab overview and summary of research and program priorities as well as discuss Small Business Innovation Research awards and other funding opportunities. They will be joined by several small business owners who will offer advice for other entrepreneurs looking to leverage federal and national support.
Dan Floyd
A robust partnership between NETL and industry partner Louisville, Kentucky-based Pyrochem Catalyst Company (PCC) continues to strengthen and could impact automotive power systems and the design of their harmful exhaust components. Transportation, fueled by gasoline and diesel, remains a major source of mobile emissions, which include unconverted hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates. A catalyst technology co-developed by NETL and PCC may provide a remedy. NETL Chemical Engineer Daniel Haynes said the new pyrochlore catalysts are being developed to address the needs for new combustion-based automotive engines to meet the increasingly stringent fuel-economy and emissions standards. The new automotive catalysts need to be more active at lower temperatures to treat emissions from new combustion engine designs, which operate at cooler temperatures.