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NETL employees were on hand to facilitate power restoration as Hurricane Dorian threatened the East Coast in recent weeks. Three employees were deployed to regions expecting impacts from Dorian ahead of the hurricane’s arrival, while a fourth employee provided virtual assistance. All four employees contribute their time and expertise as part of the Emergency Support Function (ESF) #12 program, which aids the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of the United States National Response Framework. NETL supports ESF #12 by maintaining a team of regional coordinators who cover FEMA regions spanning 36 states in the continental United States, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The participating employees primarily belong to NETL’s Energy Technology Development Directorate, with one from the Energy Conversion Engineering Directorate. In response to Dorian, these four joined other officials at regional response coordination centers for FEMA Regions II, III and IV and state emergency operations centers in Florida and North Carolina, where they served as Energy Unit Leaders.
Brian Anderson
NETL hosted a comprehensive meeting Aug. 26-30 to showcase cutting-edge research in four key areas aimed at developing novel technological solutions to America’s energy challenges. The inaugural Carbon Capture, Utilization, Storage, and Oil & Gas Technologies Integrated Project Review Meeting, “Addressing the Nation’s Energy Needs Through Technology Innovation,” is the Lab’s first annual meeting to combine four interrelated Office of Fossil Energy research programs into one event. Held at Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the meeting offered attendees a valuable opportunity to share in the knowledge and insights gained from more than 200 research projects sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage, and Oil and Natural Gas programs.
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill — which released 130 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days — put a spotlight on the urgent need for improved system-wide knowledge and advanced computational tools to predict and prevent future spills as oil and gas operations continue to expand into new territory. To address the unique challenges associated with offshore hydrocarbon exploration, researchers from NETL’s Geo-Analysis & Monitoring Team created the Offshore Risk Modeling (ORM) suite to evaluate and reduce the risk of oil spill events. Consisting of eight digital modeling and visualization tools, the ORM suite represents more than six years of development, innovation and validation, resulting in a robust suite of advanced tools that are easily accessible for use by researchers and operators. The suite provides a comprehensive framework for future predictions, analyses and visualizations surrounding oil spill scenarios to better inform offshore drilling efforts, which works to make extracting critical resources safer while ensuring environmental protection.
NETL’s Regional Workforce Initiative (RWFI) will present a one-hour webinar addressing the potential for an Appalachian ethane storage hub at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 12. The webinar is free, but participants must register here.
NETL officials highlighted the success of the Lab’s award-winning collaborative effort to transform Pittsburgh’s energy infrastructure for a contingent of Japanese energy experts visiting the Steel City. GlobalPittsburgh — an organization that creates international connections through the arrangement of professional meetings, member activities and hosting opportunities — welcomed the Japanese delegation and invited NETL representatives to present during a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 27, at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Pittsburgh. The presentation focused on NETL’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Pittsburgh, which was signed July 17, 2015. The partnership aims to modernize Pittsburgh’s aging infrastructure by implementing an innovative “grid of microgrids” concept that capitalizes on existing energy districts and unique geographic features to supply the city’s 300,000 residents with clean, reliable and cost-effective power. To date, NETL has:
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.