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A ground-breaking NETL project that converts feedstocks of domestic coal into graphene, a material that can be used to build stronger roads and bridges and manufacture various high-tech products, received a prestigious R&D 100 award for being among the 100 most technologically significant innovations introduced into the marketplace in the last year. C2G: NETL’s Low-Cost Coal-to-Graphene Manufacturing Process received the award in the Mechanical/Materials category. Project team members were Christopher Matranga, principal investigator, Fan Shi, senior materials scientist, McMahan Gray, physical scientist, and Tuo Ji, research scientist. Graphene is a carbon material that’s stronger than steel and possesses higher electrical and thermal conductivity than copper. Despite these qualities, graphene has not been widely used in consumer products because of challenges in producing large volumes of high-quality material.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) will award up to $1.5 million to winning innovators in a prize challenge to support FE’s SMART (Science-informed Machine Learning to Accelerate Real Time Decisions in the Subsurface) initiative. Click here to watch a short video about the SMART Visualization Platform Prize Challenge and learn how to register to take part in this unique software development contest.
Caption: Conventional heating works from the outside in, while microwaves provide rapid, selective heating on a molecular scale. NETL researchers are leading the way on a new frontier of reaction chemistry by harnessing the power of microwaves to create valuable chemicals from the nation’s abundant supplies of fossil resources. The groundbreaking techniques being developed at the lab are intensifying carbon conversion processes to significantly cut costs and reduce energy requirements while achieving higher yields and greater selectivity of products. Microwaves provide energy at the molecular level for these chemical conversions, resulting in rapid, selective heating — a major advantage over thermal heating, which heats broadly and diffusively from the outside in.
Don’t miss out on next week’s DOE-NETL 2020 Virtual Integrated Project Review Meeting. It’s your opportunity to discover how the nation’s leading scientists and researchers are making advancements in transformative power generation to use fossil fuels in innovation ways to produce reliable and cleaner electricity. The week also will feature an alloy development and life prediction panel discussion. Topics include superalloys and heat resistant alloys designed to perform under extreme conditions in highly efficient fossil energy plants. The final event of the week is a panel discussion on strategies to improve performance of condensers in power plants through technologies that promote efficient heat transfer and improved condenser performance and durability. Session titles and dates are:
U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette will deliver a keynote address at next week’s Shale Insight™ 2020, a leading industry forum organized annually by the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, and the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association. NETL Director Brian Anderson will be a featured presenter during the annual conference, which attracts nationally recognized experts in shale development, top policymakers and government officials, industry executives, energy innovators and others working in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays. This year’s forum will be held Tuesday, Sept. 29, through Thursday, Oct. 1, as a virtual event due to COVID-19. Brouillette will deliver the keynote at 11:45 a.m. on the opening day of the conference as part of a program titled “A View from the Top: Energy’s Outlook and Use.”
NETL Director Brian Anderson will join other experts in rare earth elements (REEs) and critical materials (CMs) at a congressional launch of the House Critical Materials Caucus, being held virtually Sept. 24 at 12 p.m. (ET).   Anderson will join representatives Guy Reschenthaler and Eric Swalwell, who co-chair the Caucus, along with Adam Schwartz, director of Ames Laboratory, and Brian Gabriel, industrial analyst with the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy. Representatives Reschenthaler and Swalwell announced formation of the new House Critical Materials Caucus on July 24, 2020, to help the United States develop the technical expertise and production capabilities to assure a long-term, secure and sustainable supply of energy critical elements. Anderson will introduce NETL’s scientific and technical solutions aimed at developing an economically competitive supply of REEs and CMs, which will assist in securing and maintaining the nation’s economic growth and national security.
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Two NETL projects have been named finalists in the prestigious 2020 R&D 100 Awards competition. C2G: NETL’s Low-Cost Coal-to-Graphene Manufacturing Process advanced in the Mechanical/Materials category and NETL’s IDAES PSE Computational Platform project was named a finalist in the Software/Services category. The contest celebrates the top 100 ground-breaking technologies made in the past year. It will be a short wait for researchers on both NETL teams to learn if their projects will be named winners. The virtual award ceremony for the Mechanical/Materials category will be held Wednesday, Sept. 30, while Software/Services category winners will be announced the following day. The coal-to-graphene project was submitted by NETL researchers Christopher Matranga, principal investigator, and team members Fan Shi, senior materials scientist, McMahan Gray, physical scientist, and Tuo Ji, research scientist.
NETL demonstrated its expertise and leadership in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) and discussed how these critical areas are enhancing technology development in fossil energy at a Sept. 22 discussion hosted by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). NETL joined other innovators from the Pittsburgh region for the event that highlighted the potential of AI in a range of applications, including robotics and autonomy, space exploration and energy innovation.  NETL Director Brian Anderson joined Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, Director of the DOE Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office (AITO) Cheryl Ingstad, Undersecretary for Science Paul Dabbar, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winbergand CMU President Farnham Jahanian at the event, which also convened CMU robotics and engineering experts.   Ingstad and AITO Chief of Staff Dan Horning toured NETL labs in Pittsburgh Monday, Sept. 21, and learned how NETL researchers are applying AI and ML across a range of fossil energy research investigation, including materials discovery; carbon capture, storage and utilization; advanced combustion and more.
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Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NETL announced plans to make available $122 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) Carbon Ore, Rare Earth, and Critical Minerals (CORE-CM) Initiative for U.S. Basins. “The Trump Administration is committed to developing technological solutions to extract rare earth elements, critical minerals, and other valuable products from our Nation’s abundant coal reserves,” said Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “These projects have an important role; they will help develop a viable domestic supply of these resources while creating new market opportunities for coal.” This funding is a part of the CORE-CM Initiative, which is sponsored by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy. This initiative for U.S. basins is intended to catalyze regional economic growth and job creation by realizing the full value of natural resources, including coal, across basins throughout the Nation.
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and NETL have has announced up to $2 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects under the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002376, Enabling Gasification of Blended Coal, Biomass, and Plastic Wastes to Produce Hydrogen with Potential for Net-Negative Carbon Dioxide Emissions. This FOA seeks applications for the research and development of the co-gasification of coal with biomass and plastic wastes. The aim is to advance net-negative carbon technologies that can produce hydrogen or other high-value fuels, either as the sole product or as a co-product. Like coal, waste plastics are ideal feedstocks to blend with biomass due to their extremely high volatile matter and low moisture and ash content. As a result, the development of co-gasification technologies sought in this FOA will help alleviate concerns over potential feedstock availability and other operational issues.