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National Small Business Week
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is recognizing outstanding entrepreneurs and small businesses during National Small Businesses Week, May 5-11. During this time, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is spotlighting the efforts of its own robust Small Business Program. Small businesses thrive at NETL, providing the Lab with a significant amount of goods and services. In fact, during fiscal year 2018, NETL spent 54.17% of its procurement dollars with small businesses — an amount that exceeds SBA’s federal governmentwide goal of 23%. This includes the five small businesses that have prime contracts with NETL supporting each of the three sites in Morgantown, West Virginia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Albany, Oregon. These contracts, along with the Lab’s simplified acquisitions from small businesses, totaled $126.4 million in fiscal year 2018.
Science One
Enter the NETL Energy Zone: Build your own working circuits, experiment with energy transfer, energize an electromagnet to send a metal ring high in the air and battle friends for the title of Energy Champion. Photo courtesy of Carnegie Science Center. Sound like fun? At Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Science Center, children can explore these exciting exhibits and more as they expand their energy knowledge. NETL’s collaboration with the family-friendly facility is part of the Lab’s commitment to educating the next generation of researchers, scientists and engineers who will one day work to develop technological solutions to the nation’s energy challenges. Carnegie Science Center is one of four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. Located on the Steel City’s North Shore, its mission is to delight, educate and inspire through interactive experiences in science and technology.
FLC Award
NETL celebrated its successful collaboration to transform Pittsburgh’s energy infrastructure through innovation at the Federal Laboratory Consortium’s (FLC) National Meeting. The annual meeting was held Tuesday through Thursday, April 23-25 in Orlando, Florida, and attracted hundreds of technology transfer professionals seeking to learn, strategize and foster business connections. Representatives from NETL accepted the 2019 State and Local Economic Development Award during a Wednesday evening ceremony and exhibited a poster that detailed the award-winning City of Pittsburgh Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) effort. NETL partnered with the city in 2015 to establish Pittsburgh as a “Clean Energy City of the Future” by creating a network of small-scale distributed energy systems that supply about 300,000 residents with clean, reliable and cost-effective power. The MOU work created a model of cooperation for federal laboratories seeking to engage with their local communities, demonstrated the powerful impact of the Lab’s mission and spurred valuable economic investments that will benefit the Pittsburgh region for decades to come.
Small Business Forum
The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) hosted a booth and led a panel session at the 18th annual U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Forum & Expo. The event took place in Pittsburgh from April 16-18, at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown hotel. The panel, “Doing Business with the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory,” covered how small businesses can work with NETL on future procurement and financial assistance opportunities in support of the nation’s leading energy research. The discussion focused on informing the small business community about NETL’s mission, rules of engagement, how and what products and services are procured by NETL and more information crucial to the small business community. Helpful references regarding NETL’s acquisition representatives and points of contact were also made available. NETL Acquisition staff who participated in the event included George LeMasters, John Augustine, Ashley Reichl, Jason Efaw, Erin Kirchoff and Jennifer Scharrer, as well as Jim Wilson, Dave Staudt and Brittley Robbins.
SOFC
Key NETL researchers and project managers involved with the Laboratory’s work on solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) will attend the 20th Annual SOFC project review meeting Monday, April 29, through Wednesday, May 1, in Crystal City, Virginia. The event is designed to inspire discussions centered on advancing development of fuel cell technology. The SOFC session is being held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) 2019 Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting. SOFCs are electrochemical devices that convert chemical energy of a fuel directly into electrical energy. Since SOFCs produce electricity through an electrochemical reaction and not through a combustion process, they are more efficient and environmentally benign than conventional electric power generation processes.
Gas Stream Cleanup
The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are teaming up to optimize coal gasifier operation through neutron imaging — an effort that could lead to more efficient energy production than that of conventional methods. The collaboration brings together NETL’s expertise in fossil energy and computational modeling with ORNL’s capabilities in neutron imaging. The research team will use neutron imagining techniques to observe coal gasifier behavior during operation and then validate results from computer-simulated models used for design and optimization. Gasification is the process that converts bio- or fossil-based feedstocks into syngas, which can be used for highly efficient energy and chemical feedstock production. Syngas, composed primarily of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, can be used in a variety of ways. It can aid in the production of fuel and chemical feedstocks, and CO2 removed from syngas prior to combustion helps enable carbon capture and sequestration. This makes gasification a critical technology in the search for clean energy supplies and domestic energy security.
Earthday
At NETL, maintaining responsible stewardship of the environment is crucial to the Lab’s mission of finding innovative solutions to America’s energy problems. Earth Day, celebrated since 1970, aligns closely with NETL’s vision while emphasizing the importance of recycling, conserving energy and improving air quality. Every year, NETL hosts an annual poster contest encouraging elementary school students at schools near NETL’s sites in Albany, Oregon; Morgantown, West Virginia; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to showcase their favorite ways to protect the environment. This year, students were asked to design their posters around the theme, “Protect our Earth’s Plants, Care for its Creatures,” in recognition of this planet-centric day. We have shared the first-, second- and third-place winning entries, as well as honorable mentions, at each grade level here. The top entries are also displayed at U.S. Department of Energy headquarters in Washington, D.C., and all NETL sites through May 10, 2019.
Mckinley
U.S. Rep. David McKinley (1st-WV) visited NETL in Morgantown Thursday, April 18, to meet with NETL’s Director and receive an update regarding ongoing energy research activity including stops at the facility’s visualization lab, the NETL Joule supercomputer, the new Reaction Analysis and Chemical Transformation (ReACT) facility where researchers use novel tools to advance the science of chemical reactions and energy conversion, and a facility where researchers were examining a core sample from an experimental Marcellus Shale well. Rep. McKinley, a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which oversees the Department of Energy and other key federal agencies, recently introduced legislation in support of energy infrastructure improvements and is a frequent visitor to NETL to learn about upcoming innovations in the field. He serves on the Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and as vice chair of the Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment. Rep. Mckinley’s April 18 NETL visit was to gather additional information on the laboratory’s ongoing energy research activities.
Scouts
More than a dozen young students experienced a one-of-a-kind adventure in science Friday, April 19, at NETL’s Morgantown, West Virginia, site. While NETL often welcomes graduate students seeking knowledge and experience, the latest visitors sought a more tangible prize: the distinctive Nova award patch or Supernova award medal from Boy Scouts of America (BSA). As part of their efforts to earn the awards, 13 local Cub Scouts and their parents toured the site to learn about NETL’s work in multiphase computational fluid dynamics, high-efficiency hybrid power systems, solid oxide fuel cells and more. Much like NETL’s K-12 STEM Education and Outreach program, BSA’s Nova awards program seeks to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education through engaging activities. The Cubs of visiting Cub Scout Pack 52, Webelos I Den are working to earn their Nova and Supernova awards by completing BSA’s Adventures in Science activity. One of the six requirements is to visit a laboratory or related facility that employs scientists.
Jared
NETL experts on geo-data science and oil and natural gas technology shared their technical insight with more than 250 peers from around the world at this week’s 4th annual Machine Learning in Oil & Gas conference. NETL Oil & Gas Technology Manager Jared Ciferno and Research Geo-Data Scientist Kelly Rose were among the featured speakers at the event, organized by the Energy Conference Network and held April 17-18 in Houston. Machine learning refers to a computer system or program’s ability to learn from data using algorithms, statistical models and pattern recognition. Many modern technologies — such as self-driving cars, web search tools and social media sites — employ machine learning to improve performance.  When it comes to oil and natural gas operations, machine learning offers vast opportunities to increase efficiency, eliminate downtime, enhance safety and reduce costs. The conference brought together leading professionals from every stage of oil and gas production to learn about the latest technology developments and future possibilities for machine learning.