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Whether designing computer models for a new combustion technology or sensors to ensure electric grid reliability, researchers at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) consistently stand at the vanguard of innovation, taking steps each day to enhance the nation’s energy foundation. Their research expertise has helped usher in a new era of U.S. energy dominance, but this position can only be sustained by ensuring that new researchers are prepared to solve the increasingly complex energy demands of the nation.
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy has announced up to $2.75 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) projects. Future amounts are subject to congressional appropriations. This funding is available under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0001854 , Innovative Technology Development to Enhance Fossil Power Systems Operability, Reliability, and Economic Performance. Selected projects will support DOE’s Fossil Energy Crosscutting Research Program, which bridges basic R&D of innovative technologies to the successful development of ultra-clean, reliable, high-efficiency fossil energy power systems. The goal is to seek innovative R&D projects to improve the performance, cost, and reliability of fossil energy technologies. 
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy has announced up to $1.6 million in federal funding  for research and development projects under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0001842 , Support of Fossil Energy Research at U.S. Colleges and Universities Including University Coal Research (UCR) and Research by Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Other Minority Institutions (HBCU/OMI).  Future amounts are subject to congressional appropriations.
STEM Activity
As our nation expands its technological horizons and stretches the boundaries of what is currently feasible, we open doors to a future that is bright with promise. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are the tools required to empower that promising future. Through advances in STEM, we can solve our nation’s energy and environmental challenges, maintain American competitiveness, and usher in a new era of prosperity and sustainability.   Reaching these new heights requires teamwork, dedication, and knowledge. It also requires a domestic workforce that is available and qualified for the jobs of the future. In 2017, The U.S. Department of Energy launched a new campaign to ensure a STEM-ready workforce, to take on the energy and environmental challenges of our future, to equip our nation for new jobs, and inspire the next generation of innovators. The initiative is STEM Rising and it’s a call to inspire, educate, and spark an upward trajectory to lifelong success through STEM. AnneMarie Horowitz, director of the STEM Rising program, said that DOE takes its responsibility as a STEM leader seriously.
Recovery Projects Infographic
Four rare earth elements (REEs) recovery projects managed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) have made significant progress in the development of a domestic supply of REEs from coal and coal by-products by successfully producing REE concentrates. REEs are especially valuable today because much of modern technology relies on them. In fact, the manufacture of everything from mobile phones to national defense systems requires a supply of REEs, and DOE research has identified coal and coal by-products as a promising domestic source. An important measure of success for these REE recovery projects is the extracted and separated REE concentration (amount of REEs) in the resulting pre-concentrated, recovered product. The REE recovery percentage (the total amount of the REE present in the feedstock) is critical for the economical processing of these elements.
Skyline
When the power goes out unexpectedly, people understandably grow concerned, especially if they are left without electricity for an extended time. For many, this amounts to a temporary inconvenience, but some power failures can be catastrophic – costing millions of dollars and creating extreme safety hazards. NETL and the University of Pittsburgh are hoping to reduce some of these power failures in the future by developing advanced fiber optic sensing technology that can alert utility companies of an impending power transformer failure before it’s too late.
Carbon Dioxide Modle
A patented technology from NETL inventors offers a cost-effective way to enable low-carbon electricity generation and efficient fuel processing, among other benefits. This game-changing technology is a physical solvent that provides a way for chemical plants, power plants, refineries and others to separate carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S) from hydrogen (H2), carbon monoxide, (CO), and nitrogen (N2). The novel solvent selectively removes weak acid gases, such as CO2, from high-pressure gas streams composed of CO2 and hydrogen, such as those found in carbon capture, hydrogen purification, and natural gas sweetening applications. What makes NETL’s solvents unique is its ability to use waste heat rather than electricity to drive the solvent’s regeneration. This translates to cost savings realized by increased efficiency.
Green Roof
NETL is providing first-hand knowledge to the City of Morgantown Engineering and Urban Landscape Departments on the energy efficiency of adding a green roof to the City Hall building. The Morgantown Engineering and Urban Landscape Departments visited the NETL Morgantown Site for a presentation by Facility Operations Engineering and Operations Team engineers on the Technology Support Facility’s (TSF) Green Roof build followed by a tour. The TSF has two green roof areas that have reflective roofing material with a high solar reflectance index, which measures the roof’s ability to reject solar heat. A green vegetated roof over the lobby and visitor’s center also serves as heat-sink insulation. The type of plants and soil used are both important features. The rooftop is cultivated with indigenous plants to reduce irrigation requirements. A green roof can help with everything from acting as a thermal mask to eliminating storm water run-off. The TSF includes water preservation measures, as rainwater is collected from tanks on the roof and is used for water closets and hose bibs.
Refractory Brick
NETL researchers have developed a refractory brick that can increase the service life of refractories that are used to line entrained flow slagging gasifiers, reducing wear from molten mineral impurities (slag) in carbon feedstock, and resulting in reduced replacement costs and an increased gasifier availability and efficiency. The brick is composed primarily of chromium oxide (Cr2O3), aluminum oxide (Al2O3), and carbon (C); and is designed to decrease molten slag corrosion, which is a dissolution of the refractory into the slag and pore penetration that causes spalling—a repetitive wear process where layers of the brick porosity penetrated by slag break off at the slag refractory interface. Corrosion and spalling are the two primary wear mechanisms causing refractory replacement in the high-pressure, high-temperature environment of these types of advanced energy systems.
Sun Lamp
As the sun rises and sets each day, the availability of solar power comes and goes. Cloud cover, weather patterns and more also impact reliability. This variability makes it challenging for many to count on solar power to meet their energy needs. To expand solar energy use in the United States, scientists must find an efficient and cost-effective way to combat the natural intermittency of photovoltaic (PV) power. Researchers at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) are working to devise a solution using three-port transformers for combined solar and battery grid integration. The project is funded through the SunShot National Laboratory Multiyear Partnership (SuNLaMP) program, managed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar Technologies Office. Partners include Eaton Corp., North Carolina State University, Carnegie Mellon University and NASA’s Glenn Research Center.