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Super Computer
According to the latest rankings by TOP500, NETL’s Joule 2.0 supercomputer remains among the most powerful in the world, securing a position of 11th among DOE national labs, 26th in the United States and 82nd in the world. Supercomputing is essential in achieving NETL’s mission to discover, integrate and mature technology solutions that enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations. By expediting technology development through computational science and engineering, Joule 2.0 helps NETL cut costs, save time and spur valuable economic investments with a global impact. Named for the familiar unit of energy, Joule allows researchers to model energy technologies, simulate challenging phenomena and solve complex calculations using computational tools that save time and money to ensure that technology development ultimately proves successful. A $16.5 million upgrade in 2019 boosted Joule’s computational power to 5.767 PFLOPS, meaning that it can perform more than 5 quadrillion calculations per second. That’s equivalent to roughly 54,658 desktop computers combined.
Across Appalachia, natural gas producers are supporting the energy security of the United States as they continue to tap the vast shale gas resources of the region. Shale gas is used for heating and power production, but the chemical industry also relies heavily on natural gas as a feedstock to manufacture valuable chemicals. With some of the world’s most cutting-edge facilities and a roster of preeminent fossil energy researchers, the Lab has decades of experience converting carbon to higher-value products and the established infrastructure to create an innovation center capable of transforming the downstream sector. With this in mind, NETL has prioritized natural gas utilization, leveraging the Lab’s capabilities and expertise to identify more uses for natural gas and bring valuable products to market faster, at lower cost and with less environmental impact. “We strive to bring national focus and coordination to technology development associated with the conversion of natural gas to high-value commodities, ultimately strengthening our national economy and national security,” said NETL Director Brian J. Anderson, Ph.D.
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Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Brad Deel, EnerVest An NETL-sponsored project that could unlock access to large reservoirs of natural gas in Central Appalachia and extract those resources with technology designed to leave a light environmental footprint has earned accolades from state and industry officials. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy’s Division of Gas and Oil, in partnership with the Virginia Oil and Gas Association (VOGA), presented NETL and its project partners with the Excellence in Exploration Innovation Award for the development of the Emerging Stacked Unconventional Plays (ESUP) field laboratory and characterization well in southwestern Virginia. Click here to review the complete list of winners who received the 2019 Virginia Gas and Oil Industry Awards.
Oil Recovery
A project utilizing NETL and industry expertise in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is underway in southern Michigan to unlock access to significant resources in the Trenton/Black River play by injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) with specifically designed chemical additives into the subsurface to improve the flow of oil to production wells. This month, NETL’s industry partners are drilling an approximately 3,900-foot well in Jackson County, located about 55 miles west of Ann Arbor, to collect data and to be used later as a recovery/production well. As the project moves forward, a second well will be drilled nearby to collect additional data and to be used as the injection well. CO2, which will be captured from industrial sources and brought on-site, will be injected into the underground oil reservoir to boost production.
The Ambient Pressure Microwave Synthesis of Ammonia research was performed at NETL’s state-of-the-art Reaction Analysis & Chemical Transformation facility in Morgantown, W.Va.
NETL’s pioneering Microwave Ammonia Synthesis (MAS) took home the 2020 IChemE Global Awards in the category of Research Project for its potential to aid in agriculture, energy production and other applications while also lowering costs and overall energy use. Ammonia is one of the most widely used chemicals compounds worldwide, alongside polyethylene, and is largely used in the fertilizer market. Liquid ammonia also possesses all the desired physiochemical properties for Carbon Neutral Liquid Fuels which allow power generation without carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. For more than a century, ammonia has been produced in bulk using the Haber-Bosch process which functions at high pressures and temperatures and requires a constant supply of energy. However, the MAS process developed by NETL in partnership with West Virginia University operates at near ambient pressures and is not dependent on a continuous supply of power because only a small area is heated during the process via microwave reactions.
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) issued a Notice of Intent for a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) expected to support projects facilitating the design, construction, and operation of engineering-scale prototypes of water treatment technologies for the Nation’s existing and future fleet of thermoelectric power plants. Water is a fixed resource with competing demands. There is an inextricable link between water and energy, as thermoelectric power generation accounts for 40 percent of freshwater withdrawals and 3 percent of freshwater consumption in the United States. Identifying and treating alternative sources of water, such as effluent streams, supports DOE’s Water Security Grand Challenge Goal 3: “Achieve near-zero water impact for new thermoelectric power plants, and significantly lower freshwater use intensity within the existing fleet.”
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL invites public comment about the technical issues needed 1) to make treated and untreated produced water available for non-oilfield and oilfield use and 2) to reduce the volume of oilfield flowback and produced water disposed of in salt water disposal wells within the Permian Basin, by promoting its beneficial use in the oilfield or its use within other industries. The goal is to transform the produced water from a waste to a resource. Through a potential prize competition, DOE would seek demonstrations of higher technology readiness level (TRL) technologies that treat produced water for use within other industries or demand centers outside oil and natural gas operations.
NETL will showcase its research capabilities in materials engineering and manufacturing at this year’s Materials Science and Technology Technical Meeting and Exhibition (MS&T20), to be held Nov. 2-6. MS&T is an annual conference focused on recent advances in materials science and technology and is organized by some of the leading materials science societies, such as the American Ceramic Society, the Association for Iron & Steel Technology and the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society. Each year, MS&T brings together scientists, engineers, students, suppliers and business leaders to discuss current research and technical applications to help shape the future of materials science and technology. MS&T20 expects more than 3,200 attendees, this year in a virtual format, to discuss the latest advances in the materials engineering field. The conference addresses structure, properties, processing and performance across the materials community and showcases a wide variety of equipment and services to the automotive, aerospace, instrumentation, medical, oilfield and energy industries.
The model will allow for more robust and consistent analyses to inform decision makers and stakeholders.
A new, open-source computer model to quantify baseline life cycle impacts of electricity consumption in the United States is allowing for more robust and consistent analyses to inform decision makers and stakeholders. Developed through a collaboration among NETL, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the model is transparent and multifunctional for users. The electricity and power generation sector in the U.S. is experiencing a state of rapid transformation via adoption of natural gas-fired power plants and deeper penetration of renewables into the market as older power-generation systems such as nuclear and legacy coal plants are gradually phased out.
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Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL announced selection of four projects for cost-shared research and development under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA), DE-FOA-0002180, Design Development and System Integration Design Studies for Coal FIRST Concepts. When fully negotiated and awarded, it is estimated that approximately $80 million in federal funding will be provided to these projects. DOE’s early stage research for the Coal FIRST  Initiative supports the development of 21st century electricity and hydrogen energy plants that have net-zero carbon emissions. These plants will be fueled by coal, natural gas, biomass, and waste plastics and incorporate carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies.