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National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) researchers developed a new catalyst that can selectively convert syngas into light hydrocarbon compounds called olefins for application in a $200 billion per year chemical industry market. The work has been detailed in ChemCatChem, a premier catalysis journal. The catalyst was characterized using a variety of techniques from U.S. Department of Energy user facilities at Brookhaven National Laboratory including advanced electron microscopy at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials and synchrotron-based X-ray spectroscopy conducted at the National Synchrotron Light Source II. An olefin is a compound made up of hydrogen and carbon that contains one or more pairs of carbon atoms linked by a double bond. Because of their high reactivity and low cost, olefins are widely used as building blocks in the manufacture of plastics and the preparation of certain types of synthetic rubber, chemical fibers, and other commercially valuable products.
North Allegheny Senior High School Team 1 (Wexford), and Marshall Middle School (Wexford) claimed victory at the 28th annual Western Pennsylvania Regional Science Bowl (WPASB), organized and co-sponsored by NETL. The high school and middle school events were held Feb. 23 and March 2, 2019, respectively, at the Community College of Allegheny County’s (CCAC) South Campus, in West Mifflin, Pa. About 40 teams from high schools and 32 teams from middle schools in 19 regional counties throughout western Pennsylvania participated in the competition. The WPASB tested students’ knowledge of math and science with round-robin and double-elimination competition rounds. This year’s WPASB competition included welcoming remarks from NETL Director Brian Anderson for the high school competition and NETL Deputy Director Randy Gentry for the middle school competition, as well as representatives from CCAC.
NETL Shares Water Expertise at North American Shale Water Management Conference
NETL experts who specialize in water management issues are attending the North American Shale Water Management Conference in Houston, Texas, this week to exchange ideas and focus on the conference topic of “Reducing the Cost of Water Recycling and Reuse” in energy production. The conference, which runs through Friday, presents an opportunity for leading water management experts and key regulators to meet with shale operators and service companies to explore new cost-effective water treatment, sourcing, disposal, and storage solutions for North American shale plays. NETL, which pioneered new methods for accessing oil and gas shale plays through innovative technologies, has growing expertise in water management research. Participation in the conference reinforces the Laboratory’s outreach and partnering initiative to bring new technologies to bear on addressing energy and water issues.
Funding Opportunity Announcement Logo
Today, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced the selection of eight projects to receive nearly $24 million in federal funds for cost-shared research and development (R&D) for Novel and Enabling Carbon Capture Transformational Technologies. The selected projects will focus on the development of solvent, sorbent, and membrane technologies to address scientific challenges and knowledge gaps associated with reducing the cost of carbon capture. Secretary Perry announced these projects today at a joint press conference with International Energy Agency Executive Director, Dr. Fatih Birol. “By 2040 the world will still rely on fossil fuels for 77% of its energy use. Our goal is to produce them in a cleaner way,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “These projects will allow America, and the world for that matter, to use both coal and natural gas with near-zero emissions.”
Educational Workshops
Registration is now open for two workshops hosted at NETL-Pittsburgh for teachers in April. NETL’s educational workshops provide middle and high school teachers with tools and resources to bring science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) into the classroom. These annual gatherings serve to “educate the educator” and inspire the next generation of innovators through fun activities teachers can take back to share with their students. The Light, Color and Spectroscopy for Kids workshop, being held April 4, 2019, explores a wide variety of activities for educators to use to assist their students in understanding important concepts about light and color. The two-day workshop is held in partnership with the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh, and teachers receive most of the materials needed to perform the activities in their own classrooms.
Inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers and other STEM professionals means showing children and youth how science and math form the foundation of the world around us. It means demonstrating to middle and high school students how these fields are fun and fascinating, and it means welcoming college and graduate students into the lab to advance their research skills and instill a passion for lifelong learning. NETL researchers are proud to share their expertise and STEM enthusiasm with students in our local areas. Here are few examples of how NETL scientists and engineers are making a difference in their communities.
Brian Anderson
National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., gave an in-depth description of his laboratory’s fossil energy research priorities, activities and capabilities when he delivered the 2019 Carnegie Mellon University Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation Distinguished Lecture Series Tuesday in Pittsburgh. The Carnegie Mellon Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation addresses the world’s most important energy-related challenges by enabling collaborative research, strategic partnerships, public policy outreach, entrepreneurship, and education. As one of CMU’s only university-wide institutes, the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation seeks to optimize energy resources, reduce the environmental impacts of energy production and use, and develop breakthrough technologies and solutions that will have meaningful global impact.
Pittsburgh MOU Bridge
A collaborative NETL-led effort to transform Pittsburgh’s energy infrastructure and establish the Steel City as a “Clean Energy City of the Future” will receive the 2019 State and Local Economic Development Award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) for Technology Transfer. Previously a recipient of the same award from FLC’s Mid-Atlantic Region, NETL’s City of Pittsburgh Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) team was selected for the national honor from applicants throughout FLC’s network of more than 300 federal laboratories, agencies and research centers across the country. The award will be presented to team members at an April 24 ceremony in Orlando, Florida. City of Pittsburgh officials and NETL representatives signed the MOU on July 17, 2015, building upon a long history of collaboration. The MOU aims to modernize Pittsburgh’s aging infrastructure by implementing an innovative “grid of microgrids” concept that capitalizes on five existing energy districts and the city’s unique geographic features to supply local residents with clean, reliable and cost-effective power.
Sporian’s ultra-high temperature probes were installed for testing at Southwest Research Institute's Pressurized High-Temperature Flow Facility.
Developing turbines and other advanced energy systems that can operate at extremely high temperatures boosts efficiency, thereby cutting operating costs and offering potential savings for consumers. Monitoring is critical to ensure that these complex systems run safely and effectively, with minimal downtime; however, the necessary ultra-high temperatures also introduce challenges in developing sensors that can withstand such harsh environments. A recently completed NETL-managed project with Colorado-based Sporian Microsystems, Inc., produced smart temperature sensors that can operate up to 1800 degrees Celsius as well as pressure sensors that operate at temperatures up to 1600 degrees Celsius for improved performance in monitoring gas turbines, combustion systems and more. Extensive testing in relevant environments shows that the developed sensors offer the potential for greater durability, functionality and reliability at a more affordable price than existing alternatives.
Tech Transfer Entrepreneurship Week Image
Entrepreneurs often play a critical role in the evolution of NETL technologies, shepherding emerging innovations from the laboratory to the marketplace. Entrepreneurs invest in technology transfer initiatives that stimulate the economy, expedite access to the Lab’s energy technology solutions and expand their reach for maximum benefit. As the U.S. celebrates National Entrepreneurship Week, NETL recognizes the many valued entrepreneurs who contribute to the Lab’s success by accelerating innovation. Their sometimes-risky work advances society by sharing new ideas, tools and products with the potential to change the world. Recognizing the challenges of commercialization, the U.S. government empowered entrepreneurs with the 1980 enactment of the Bayh-Dole Act, which simplified technology transfer by allowing small businesses and others to license inventions created with federal funds.