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Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $12 million in federal funding for six research and development (R&D) projects that are advancing direct air capture (DAC) technology, a carbon dioxide removal approach that extracts carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the atmosphere. The projects, housed at universities and labs in Arizona, North Carolina, Illinois and Kansas, are creating tools that will increase the amount of CO2 captured by DAC, decrease the cost of materials, and improve the energy efficiency of carbon removal operations. When deployed, this next generation of clean energy technology will help reach the Biden-Harris Administration's goal of a net-zero emissions by 2050.
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NETL’s Energy Data eXchange (EDX) has served as a virtual platform for the public curation of research data and tools for more than a decade, bringing together researchers from across the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM). Now, as the Biden Administration begins the transition to a clean energy economy, the data and models available through EDX are helping shape this new future where federal leadership will partner with power plant communities to create good-paying union jobs, spur economic revitalization, mediate environmental degradation and support energy workers.
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) announced the selection of three projects to receive $1.5 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) to explore how carbon-based building materials can support the Administration’s commitment to building a clean energy economy that creates good-paying union jobs and transforms disadvantaged areas into healthy and thriving communities. The selected projects will investigate the impacts of using carbon-based building materials, including opportunities to develop superior construction materials that offer lower lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions and other improved properties. Superior carbon-based building materials may also contribute to the development of a new industry—creating new jobs for communities that have disproportionately suffered adverse economic, health, environmental, and climate impacts.  The selected projects follow:
Gloves
NETL researchers are using analytical tools and modeling to determine the efficiency and cost effectiveness of technologies that can pull carbon dioxide (CO2) from ambient air and help reduce greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere. “Direct air capture (DAC) systems are essentially what plants and trees do every day through photosynthesis, except DAC technology can do it much faster, with a smaller land footprint, and deliver extracted CO2 in a pure, compressed form that can then be stored underground or reused,” said Tim Fout, a member of NETL’s Energy Process Analysis Team of the Strategic Systems Analysis and Engineering (SSAE) directorate. NETL is well-positioned to lead the development of DAC technology. The Lab has been instrumental in advancing research to capture CO2 from the flue gas streams produced by power plants and other industries and store it permanently and safely in deep underground complexes and geologic reservoirs or use it as a feedstock to produce higher-value products such as chemicals and plastics.
The Dynamic Gas Turbine Combustion Test Rig in NETL's High-Pressure Combustion Facility
NETL representatives joined gas turbine researchers and industry experts at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Turbo Expo, held June 7-11, to discuss the role of advanced turbine technologies in achieving  energy production with net-zero emissions and the changing workforce dynamics brought about by the economic focus of addressing climate change amongst other turbine and energy related topics. ASME’s Turbo Expo provided a full spectrum of research and industry knowledge to truly confirm the latest market trends, technical developments, challenges, and the future state of the turbomachinery industry. The event encompassed topics spanning the entire turbomachinery industry – gas turbines, steam turbines, wind turbines, fans and blowers, Rankine cycle, and power cycles based on supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2).
Briggs White
NETL’s Briggs White, Ph.D., will focus on steps to transform the energy economy when he delivers the keynote presentation at the NETL-City of Pittsburgh Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) stakeholders meeting, set for 2-4 p.m. (ET) Thursday, June 10. The NETL-Pittsburgh MOU Partnership was launched in 2015 to transform the city’s energy system and aging infrastructure. The MOU provides an opportunity for NETL to demonstrate how technologies developed at the Lab can support safe and efficient energy use in the city. White’s presentation will focus on his current duties as deputy executive director of the Biden Administration’s Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization.
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NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., will join energy leaders from two continents when he takes part in a panel discussion on Wednesday, June 9, at the inaugural Hydrogen Americas Summit to discuss opportunities and challenges to expand the use of hydrogen as a clean-burning fuel. “NETL performs research on a wide range of hydrogen technologies including carbon-free hydrogen and hydrogen carrier production through methane pyrolysis and advanced reaction processes like microwave catalysis. Our long history in the development of advanced materials for hydrogen transportation and novel combustion techniques like pressure-gain combustion have great potential to assist with meeting the Biden Administration’s goals for a carbon emission-free electricity sector by 2035 and economy-wide net-zero emissions by 2050,” Anderson said.
MLEF Students and Brian Anderson
NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., spoke today to interns who will be participating in this year’s Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) at several locations across the country, including NETL. The mission of the MLEF program is to strengthen a diverse pipeline of future science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals, and mentors involved with the program have offered guidance to several hundred of the best and brightest students from across the nation since its inception. The MLEF program was created in 1995 with the goal of improving opportunities for underrepresented and minority students in STEM fields. The 10-week fellowship, open to undergraduate and graduate students, offers a unique research experience for the next generation of STEM professionals. “Seeking diverse viewpoints and perspectives has always been foundational for how NETL develops solutions to our nation’s toughest energy challenges,” Anderson said. “We are committed to acknowledging and valuing the strength of diversity, and the MLEF program is a great opportunity to gain insights from students and increase opportunities for students with a variety of backgrounds.”
MLEF
Student participants chosen across three internship programs will gain valuable research experience under NETL mentors as part of the Lab’s 2021 summer internship initiative. Interns from the Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF), Consortium of Hybrid Resilient Energy Systems (CHRES) program and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Advanced Manufacturing Office (EERE-AMO) Energy Storage Internship Program will spend 10 weeks conducting research virtually and receiving guidance from their mentors as they gain experience to become the next generation of energy innovators. Participants include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors who will get one-on-one mentorship experiences collaborating with NETL’s world-class scientists and engineers.
RWFI E-note Monthly
Funding opportunities to bring economic growth to rural communities that currently or historically have had a high concentration of employment in energy extraction and related industries can be found in the May 2021 edition of RWFI E-Note Monthly. This latest edition of the newsletter outlines how eligible communities in the Appalachian and Delta regions can apply for funding through a U.S. Department of Labor grant program to diversify their economies through training and other approaches, preparing dislocated and other workers for success. The Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) program acknowledges the impact of the opioid crisis and the significant challenges it presents to a community’s workforce. The program is encouraging applicants to share their strategies to address employment and training needs of individuals affected by substance use disorders.