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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NETL have announced up to $64 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) projects under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA), Critical Components for Coal FIRST Power Plants of the Future. “Coal is a critical resource for grid stability that will be used in developing countries around the world well into the future as they build their economies,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “Investing in R&D for cleaner coal technologies will allow us to develop the next generation of coal plants for countries to use this valuable natural resource in an environmentally responsible manner.” DOE’s Coal FIRST (Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, Transformative) initiative will develop the coal plant of the future needed to provide secure and reliable power to the U.S. grid. Evaluation of potential future power plant concept designs assisted in defining the R&D sought under this FOA. DOE will solicit cost-shared projects focused on developing the critical components required by Coal FIRST and transformational coal-fired systems.
M Gray
NETL’s McMahan Gray will be presented with a prestigious honor from the institution where he learned critical skills to thrive as a nationally renowned research scientist. The Chemistry Department at the University of Pittsburgh recently announced it will present Gray, a physical scientist 1980 alumnus, with its 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award at a ceremony to be held next fall. In his letter nominating Gray for the award, NETL Director Brian J. Anderson, Ph.D., noted that Gray has advanced innovative technologies to save lives while serving as a mentor who has inspired hundreds of students and colleagues. “Gray’s long commitment to innovating new technologies that improve the world’s air, water and the economy coupled with his dedication to training future scientists to carry the work forward makes us proud to have him at NETL. This recognition shows that this pride extends beyond our organization to his alma mater as well. As a key federal researcher, he is an active participant in the Laboratory’s work to prepare the next generation of scientists, engineers and researchers to tackle emerging energy challenges,” Anderson stated.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL has announced up to $4 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) projects under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002190, Research for Innovative Emission Reduction Technologies Related to Coal Combustion Residuals. Coal combustion residuals (CCRs) consist primarily of fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag, flue gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum and other FGD-solid by-products, as well as fluidized bed combustor ash from pulverized coal-fired power plants and other combustion-based coal power plants. CCRs constitute one the largest classes of industrial by-products generated in the United States. R&D under this FOA aims to economically increase the beneficial use and advance the management of CCRs, thereby reducing the volume of CCRs needed to be disposed of in impoundments while protecting the environment and the health and safety of the public. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will manage the projects selected through this FOA. The FOA focuses on two areas of interest (AOIs):
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL have selected two projects to receive approximately $9 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects under Phase II of the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0001816, Advanced Components for 65% Combined Cycle Efficiency, sCO2 Power Cycles and Advanced Modular Heat Engines. These projects will support DOE’s Advanced Coal and Power Systems program by developing advanced, highly efficient, turbine-based technologies applicable to fossil fuels, including coal-derived synthesis gas, coal-derived hydrogen, and natural gas. The National Energy Technology Laboratory will manage the projects. The projects fall under two areas of interest. Project descriptions follow. Area of Interest 1: Advanced Combustion Turbines for Combined Cycle Applications
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL has selected three additional projects to receive approximately $3 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects. These projects are supported through the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0001992, Maximizing the Coal Value Chain.   The projects will develop innovative uses of domestic coal for upgraded coal-based feedstocks used to produce power and to make steel and high-value products—ultimately creating new market opportunities for coal. These projects will support FE’s Advanced Energy Systems Program. DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory will manage the projects, which are described below.
NETL representatives hosted a booth and shared information about the Lab’s work this week at the fifth annual U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) InnovationXLab Summit on Biomanufacturing, held Jan. 28-29 in Berkeley, California. The Lab showcased its collaborations in biomanufacturing research and development at the event and shared ideas with other national laboratories and key industry representatives, which supports NETL’s mission to develop technologies to secure and enhance the nation’s energy foundation. Biomanufacturing involves using biological systems to produce important commercial materials. This includes a wide range of potential research areas, from developing photosynthetic organisms to aid in carbon capture efforts to growing crops like sugarcane and corn to produce fuel for vehicles. Research into using renewable organic materials to meet U.S. energy needs can help reduce dependence on foreign oil through production of biofuels and provide a boost for agricultural and forest industries by turning low-value wastes into high-value fuels, fertilizer or chemicals and electricity.
Power Plant
Fossil energy is vital to the nation’s security, with coal serving as the fuel that produces nearly 30% of U.S. electricity. To ensure the continued success of this critical energy resource, NETL is funding advanced research to modernize the grid and improve the efficiency of the existing coal-fired power plant fleet, which strengthens the reliability of all our electricity generation. In coal and other fossil fuel-based power plants, high-pressure, high-temperature steam drives turbines that spin electricity-producing generators. After exiting the turbine, steam moves through the condenser where it’s converted back into liquid so it can be re-heated and re-pressurized to be used again. Condenser performance is largely dependent on how efficiently cold tubes cool the steam and condense it back to liquid. When steam contacts the metal tubes, a film or condensation can form. This layer acts as an insulator between the cold metal and steam, limiting heat transfer and lowering efficiency.
Ohio State TEP process
Innovations by researchers at Ohio State University have shown potential to deliver a supply of strategically and economically vital rare earth elements (REEs). REEs are used in everything from green energy applications and personal electronics to defense technology and smart car systems. Important as these elements are, China controls the lion’s share of the world market. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has been tasked with helping secure a domestic supply. NETL’s research has demonstrated methods by which REEs can be extracted from the nation’s coal by-products such as acid mine drainage (AMD) and fly ash generated at power generation facilities, with the Ohio State University refining this process even further. The Ohio State University researchers demonstrated that a conceptual three-stage trap-extract-precipitate (TEP) process can successfully extract REEs from coal mine drainage.  The TEP process relies on the use of environmentally benign industrial by-products to trap the REEs and an organic chelating agent to recover the REEs from the mine drainage.
How do research breakthroughs and innovations create economic and workforce opportunities on the regional and national scale? This is the focus of the NETL Regional Workforce Initiative Energy 101 webinar series. The NETL RWFI Energy 101 Series provides a basic primer on the research conducted at NETL, including the challenges and potential economic and workforce opportunities that successful research into these topics, along with their related challenges may bring to the region and the nation. NETL researchers present information on their work in an easy to follow and easy to communicate fashion. This month we look at ongoing NETL research into sensors and controls. The Sensors and Controls program improves fossil energy power generation through sensors, distributed intelligent control systems, and increased security. Advanced sensors and controls provide pivotal insights into optimizing plant performance while also increasing plant reliability and availability.
NETL’s K-12 STEM Education & Outreach team provided support services during three West Virginia Regional Science Bowl (WVSB) Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) qualifying competitions in December. The competitions determined which middle and high school teams will compete in the main WVSB event, to be held Feb. 8-9 at West Virginia University in Morgantown. The winning teams from the WVSB will win an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the annual National Science Bowl in April. During Science Bowl competitions, middle and high school students compete as teams in an action-packed quiz bowl format to answer questions on science, math and engineering. The events test students’ science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) knowledge while promoting and demonstrating the value of science and technology in education.