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Growing up outside Detroit, Katharina “Katy” Daniels and her sisters were encouraged to pursue their dreams, even if it meant choosing a career in a field such as engineering where opportunities for women traditionally have been limited. “Fortunately, I never had any reason to think there was a limitation on what I wanted to become,” said Daniels, a general engineer who joined NETL’s Carbon Capture Team in June. Daniels’ parents, Lucinda and Michael Bellairs, urged their daughter to read and explore her early interests, which included rock and bug collections. In addition, they made sure Bring Your Child to Work Day was always a meaningful, hands-on experience. “My mother was a computer technician who installed servers. I enjoyed spending the day taking apart computers or checking out circuit boards,” said Daniels. “I looked forward to it every year.” Those early lessons have paid big dividends.
A recently released report, “Safe Geologic Storage of Captured Carbon Dioxide: Two Decades of DOE’s Carbon Storage R&D Program in Review” dives into how the department and NETL and other national laboratories, research organizations, and industry stakeholders have worked collaboratively to meet the challenge of addressing the emission of greenhouse gases while ensuring the continued use of fossil fuels that underpin our nation’s economic prosperity. One of the most successful pillars of DOE’s Carbon Storage Program is the NETL-managed Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (RCSP) Initiative, which began in 2003 with a characterization phase that focused on collecting and analyzing data on potential reservoirs and assembling resources to test CO2 storage. This effort culminated in the development of a standard, consistent methodology for assessing geologic reservoirs and estimating the volumes of CO2 that could be stored, an effort led by NETL. The methodology has since been applied in a series of Carbon Storage Atlases for the U.S. and portions of Canada.
NETL’s Reaction Analysis and Chemical Transformation (ReACT) facility in Morgantown, West Virginia, and its Functional Materials Synthesis Laboratory (FMSL) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were recognized as finalists in a recently concluded national competition to honor excellence in research laboratory design, planning and construction. The Lab Design Excellence Awards were established in 2019 by Lab Manager magazine to recognize the best new projects within the lab design community. A panel consisting of laboratory architects, engineers, construction professionals and editorial staff from Lab Manager analyzed each entry for its approach to lab design, specifically focusing on the categories of innovation, sustainability and safety. Projects entered in the contest represented a wide range of laboratory types, including research labs, academic facilities, forensic and crime labs, as well as health care, government and industry labs. Entrants were asked to demonstrate what makes their facilities unique and cutting-edge, and how they can serve as models for the lab design/building community.
Green Roof
In recognition of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, NETL has produced a video highlighting the many steps the Lab has taken to conserve resources and promote a range of environmentally friendly practices. At NETL, responsible environmental stewardship is a key element in the Lab’s mission of enhancing the nation’s energy foundation while protecting the environment for future generations. Earth Day aligns closely with NETL’s vision while emphasizing the importance of recycling, conserving energy and improving air quality. Earth Day, which will be observed on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, was started in 1970 to focus attention on growing environmental issues and pollution. The date was chosen because it fell between spring break and final exams on many U.S. college campuses. Today Earth Day is a worldwide civic event. Conservation practices taken at NETL and highlighted in the video include:
Acid mine drainage (AMD) samples collected from a site in Pennsylvania. The right flask shows the AMD sludge and the left flask shows the AMD runoff water prior to treatment. Photo courtesy of RTI.
As securing a domestic source of rare earth elements (REEs) remains a priority for the U.S. Department of Energy, a potential opportunity to obtain these elements is within reach thanks to our nation’s abundant coal resources. With support from the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) is exploring methods by which REEs can be extracted, separated, and recovered from coal-based resources. As part of an NETL-funded cooperative agreement, Zachary Hendren, Ph.D., and his RTI team, which include Cerahelix and Veolia Water Technologies, are testing the efficacy of various approaches to REE recovery and enrichment (with a targeted concentrated goal of 2wt% mixed REE) from acid mine drainage (AMD) samples using a combination of novel technologies. This means that of one of the nation’s most abundant resources, coal, could provide a potential source of vital REEs without the investment required to open a new mine specifically dedicated to their extraction. Already existing coal mines could provide domestic supplies if the extraction methods are refined and desired purities reached.
The history of NETL’s Pittsburgh site stretches back to 1910, when the newly created Bureau of Mines in the U.S. Department of the Interior opened the Pittsburgh Experiment Station in Bruceton, Pennsylvania, 12 miles south of Pittsburgh. The station’s original purpose was to investigate mining methods that would lower the number of fatal explosions and fires in U.S. underground coal mines. Much of the work carried out today at NETL-Pittsburgh focuses on process systems engineering, decision science, functional materials and environmental sciences. A tangible example of this is NETL’s Analytical Lab, which conducts research on rare earth elements (REEs) to investigate the economic feasibility of recovering REEs from U.S. coal and coal byproducts. REEs are vitally important to the production of electronics, defense technology and other items used in everyday life.
Through decades of advanced research, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carbon Storage Program, implemented by NETL, has steadily helped move carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) toward commercialization. In-house carbon storage research in technology areas like wellbore integrity and mitigation; storage complex efficiency and security; and monitoring, verification, accounting and assessment have built a strong science-based foundation for CCUS. These lab- and pilot-scale efforts have advanced technologies to the point where individual companies, utilities and other business entities can design, manufacture and build the equipment and instrumentation needed to implement or commercialize the process.
FOA Logo
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL have announced up to $14 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002185, Advanced Coal Processing Technologies. The FOA seeks applications for the research and development of coal-derived products as building materials and infrastructure components, as well as other value-added, coal-derived carbon products. The FOA seeks applications for the research and development of technologies capable of continuously producing a carbon foam from a coal-derived feedstock. Additionally, the FOA seeks to support the application, validation, and integration of several carbon-based building products into carbon building structures.
Briggs White
NETL’s Briggs White will provide an update on the development of the nation’s Fossil Energy Advanced Energy Storage Program during a webinar from 11 a.m. to noon EST on Wednesday, April 22. During the U.S. Energy Association (USEA) webinar, White will provide an overview about the new program, explain its relationship to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Storage Grand Challenge and lead a discussion regarding future program plans. White serves as a technology manager at NETL where he manages three research and development programs related to fossil energy applications — High Performance Materials, Water Management and Energy Storage. In collaboration with the Office of Fossil Energy, NETL has implemented the DOE initiative to accelerate the development and integration of energy storage technologies to ensure reliable supplies of affordable, clean energy from the nation’s fossil energy assets (both coal and natural gas).
The Summary Report of the Tri-Lab Workshop on Modeling & Analysis of Current & Future Energy Systems, which was hosted by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), has been released. The workshop was organized by the three key U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) applied energy laboratories, NETL, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado and Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Their goal was the development of a shared set of best practices and approaches as a basis for establishing a common suite of modeling and optimization tools to support the design, analysis, and optimization of advanced, integrated energy systems throughout the nation.