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OCT 19
Game-changing technologies to use coal as a feedstock to manufacture high-value products and research that’s  transforming carbon dioxide (CO2) from a greenhouse gas into helpful chemical building blocks for industry will be discussed at next week’s DOE-NETL 2020 Virtual Integrated Project Review Meeting. Two days are dedicated to exploring the revolution that’s underway to develop new uses for coal. Scientists and engineers are opening doors to use coal, coal byproducts and coal waste to manufacture a variety of products. Someday soon, the roof above your head could be made of a coal composite. Down the road, carbon fiber and graphene manufactured from coal feedstock will be used to make stronger, lighter vehicles and more durable roads or manufacture superior materials for computer components.
Justin Webber
Since beginning his federal service at NETL 11 years ago, Justin Weber has worked on projects that span both the computational and experimental research domains, with the study of multiphase flow as the thread that ties them all together. “Multiphase flows are observable throughout advanced energy systems,” Weber said. “Anywhere you have solids, liquids or gases interacting with each other, you will have a multiphase flow. Understanding this flow is key to designing and optimizing next generation power generation technologies.” After receiving his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 2009, Weber joined an NETL team assembled to work on just such a technology. He and his colleagues began work on designing a 50kWth pilot-scale chemical looping reactor (CLR) — a cutting-edge energy system that involves the combustion of fossil fuels with an oxygen carrier, rather than air, to create an opportunity to simplify carbon dioxide (CO2) capture in power plant applications.
NETL’s Regional Workforce Initiative (RWFI), the Tri State Energy and Advanced Manufacturing (TEAM) Consortium and leadership from the Tri State Shale Coalition will explore what the future holds for workforce training during a special webinar from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20. This event will feature a multi-panel online discussion on workforce issues related to energy and advanced manufacturing activities and programs, including discussions on strategy and activities in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic with respect to job recovery. “With the pandemic causing major economic disruptions in multiple sectors, we witnessed immense change throughout 2020 as industries adapted in response to the crisis,” said NETL’s RWFI Federal Coordinator Anthony Armaly. “We now have a chance to build upon lessons learned and share the latest in workforce training and best practices. We’re pleased TEAM and the Tri State Shale Coalition are joining NETL to host what promises to be a productive and engaging webinar as we work to support a key pillar of American prosperity.”
In an effort that could lead to accelerated design and deployment of advanced energy systems, NETL researchers have added a valuable new capability to the Lab’s world-renowned Multiphase Flow with Interphase eXchanges (MFiX) modeling software suite. Rather than modeling particles as spheres, as is the case with most discrete element modeling (DEM) techniques, NETL researchers have developed and validated an algorithm to simulate non-spherical shapes that better approximates real-world particles, significantly increasing modeling accuracy. Real-life granular materials such as coal and biomass are non-spherical in nature. However, researchers have long used simple spheres in DEM simulations to represent various interacting particles found in multiphase flow systems like fluidized beds, gasifiers and chemical looping reactors. While this technique is computationally efficient and allows for the simulation of hundreds of millions of particles necessary to model industrial-scale systems, it fails to adequately account for the gas-solid interaction in the reactor. 
Southern Company photo
Photo Credit: Southern Company Photo The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL have renewed an agreement with Southern Company to operate the National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC), setting the stage for expansion at the DOE-sponsored facility into new areas of research to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-based power plants, and to advance carbon dioxide (CO2) utilization and direct air capture (DAC) solutions.
NETL will demonstrate how local business partners and educational institutions throughout the Mountain State can connect with the Lab’s various resources and programs during the 2020 West Virginia Governor’s Energy Summit, which has the theme of “Connecting Communities Through Energy.” Originally scheduled to take place during the summer at the Stonewall Resort, in Roanoke, W. Va., this free-to-attend conference has switched to a virtual format out of concern for the wellness and health of attendees. Taking place Oct. 14, the summit will feature energy efficiency speakers, presentations, and panels full of information discussing the future of energy in West Virginia. Merging the two events, the goal is to bring together a wide array of West Virginia elected officials, state and local government agencies, industry, research universities, technical and community colleges, and non-governmental organizations, along with regional and national experts.
Power Lines
NETL is marking National Energy Awareness Month this October by recognizing the Lab’s contributions to the critical role of energy production in national prosperity and security, especially during the national challenges this year. Electricity is a crucial element of the nation’s coronavirus pandemic response, fueling emergency medical care, sanitation and clean water systems, manufacturing sectors, intranet infrastructure and many other areas.   With millions working from home, affordable and reliable energy is crucial, and NETL met this challenge. NETL’s resilient and diligent workforce never lost sight of the mission to develop technology solutions that enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations. NETL employees adapted and continued to innovate the world’s most advanced energy technologies. A few examples include:
Oct 5
Next week’s DOE-NETL 2020 Virtual Integrated Project Review Meeting will feature the nation’s leading experts in the field of developing cost-effective carbon capture technologies for the fossil energy power-generation sector. Subject matter experts from the U.S. Department of Energy, national labs, including NETL, academia and industry are scheduled to participate in this event to be held Monday, Oct. 5, Tuesday, Oct. 6, and Wednesday, Oct. 7. Click here to review the agenda and list of presentations. Registration is free. Complete the online registration form to participate in one, two or three days of the event.
R and D 100 Logo
NETL’s Institute for the Design of Advanced Energy Systems (IDAES), a center of excellence for the identification, synthesis, optimization and analysis of innovations to meet the nation’s growing energy needs, is the winner of the prestigious 2020 R&D 100 award, which recognizes the developers of the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace in the last year. IDAES received the recognition in the Software/Services category. Also this week, C2G: NETL’s Low-Cost Coal-to-Graphene Manufacturing Process received an R&D 100 awards in the Mechanical/Materials category.
NETL will soon share its analyses and insights regarding the increasing use of the nation’s natural gas resources with the Washington & Jefferson College Center for Energy Policy and Management (CEPM). CEPM has invited the NETL Systems Engineering and Analysis directorate to participate in a webinar to provide a technical discussion on the increasing use of natural gas in energy generation, which was largely made possible by the Shale Revolution of the past decade that saw the United States undergo a transition from a primarily coal-based to natural gas-based power system. Tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, October 6 or Wednesday, October 7, the virtual event will also highlight the effect on renewable energy generation and ongoing research on those topics at NETL and other DOE national labs. For example, natural gas-based power generation, with its substantially lower emissions of greenhouse gases, can complement solar and wind power on cloudy days or during times of low wind.