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NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., delivered the keynote address and connected with experts this week at a virtual forum hosted by Discover the Real West Virginia to explore carbon reduction opportunities in the state.
NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., delivered the keynote address and connected with national and state energy experts this week at a virtual forum hosted by Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation, Inc. The forum, titled “The Value of Carbon and Coal in West Virginia’s Energy Future,” discussed how West Virginia can be an integral part of the solution in reducing the nation’s carbon emissions and identified the challenges and opportunities surrounding the advancement of carbon reduction technologies in the Mountain State. Notable speakers included Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who leads the foundation, and U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. Granholm highlighted the importance of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) and carbon dioxide (CO2) removal technologies while sharing the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) commitment to revitalizing the nation’s manufacturing base and working toward a net-zero carbon future.
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U.S. Department of Energy Funds Projects to Recycle, Treat Water at Power Plants Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) selected two projects to receive nearly $2 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development under funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002399, Water Management for Thermal Power Generation. In the U.S., a power generation energy transition toward lower carbon intensity technologies is underway. This decarbonization may come in many forms, including carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) or optimizing asset utilization through water treatment and heat rate improvements. To enable a low-carbon future that minimizes environmental impacts, additional innovation is needed to reduce the freshwater intensity of power generators. Other innovations can provide additional treated non-traditional water (for example, brackish groundwater) for low-carbon purposes such as hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage.
NETL’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Other Minority Institutions (HBCU-OMI) program has enabled more than 40 groundbreaking energy research projects since 2010. Two such projects, which were selected under the most recent University Training and Research funding opportunity announcement, have the potential to bolster NETL’s world-renowned Multiphase Flow with Interphase eXchanges (MFiX) software suite through the development of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques for computational fluid dynamics code (CFD). “MFiX is the world’s leading open-source design software for multiphase flow systems,” said Sydni Credle, NETL’s technology manager for University Training and Research. “The software is continuously being updated, and emerging ML and AI techniques hold the promise of enabling more accurate simulations and faster development of clean energy technologies.”
Approximately 400,000 miles of gas transmission pipelines cross the nation. In this quarter’s Research Associate Spotlight and Mentor Profile, a young scientist discusses how he has teamed with his NETL mentor to develop an enhanced technology to monitor the integrity of these lines 24/7. Research associate Nageswara “Nagesh” Lalam, a participant in the NETL Post Graduate Research Program administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, shares how novel fiber optic sensor systems can provide real-time monitoring of this vital component of the U.S. energy infrastructure. His mentor, Michael Buric, Ph.D., a staff scientist on NETL’s Functional Materials Team, discusses the valuable contributions Nagesh is making at the Lab and the career-building opportunities his mentee is experiencing.
NETL’s 2021 Crosscutting Research and Advanced Energy Systems Project Review Meeting continues through May with seven days of presentations showcasing innovations to enhance the efficiency and reliability of electricity production and increase domestic supplies of rare earth elements (REEs). During more than 80 virtual sessions between May 17 and May 26, 2021, engineers and scientists working on NETL-supported projects will also discuss research driving technologies to lower water use in energy production and advancing the use of sensors and controls to gain pivotal insights into optimizing power plant performance.
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University-Led R&D Projects Look to Increase the Performance and Reliability of Hydrogen Power and Advance Zero-Emissions Technology  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced eight university-led projects will receive nearly $6.2 million in federal funding for research and development projects aimed at advancing hydrogen—a clean burning fuel—as a high-performing, efficient gas for turbine-based electricity generation. Increasing the reliability, efficiency, and performance of hydrogen power will reduce carbon emissions and advance the Biden-Harris administration's goal of a 100% clean electricity by 2035.  “Our economic competitors are getting serious about harnessing carbon emissions free power from hydrogen, and so the U.S. must as well,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Congress has entrusted DOE as the nation’s leading funder of the physical sciences, and we’re proud to invest in the brilliant scientific minds in our nation’s university system that are helping us ensure every American can access reliable, zero-carbon power.”  
Machine Learning
NETL is collaborating with Carnegie Mellon University to make faster and more accurate predictions on the properties of heat-resistant alloys and develop cost-effective, corrosion-resistant materials needed in flexible energy systems that will be highly efficient, produce fewer emissions and help meet the nation’s decarbonization goals while producing reliable supplies of electricity. To produce durable alloys to manufacture turbine blades, pressure vessels, heat exchangers and other equipment, NETL is collaborating with CMU on a two-year project to further explore the “PSP connection” — a fundamental tenet of materials science that maintains Processing generates the microStructure that mediates material Properties. The NETL-managed project, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy High Performance Materials program, focuses on collecting microstructure image data and property metadata, and using  computational tools to discover new PSP connections and design microstructures to achieve desired properties.
In partnership with NETL, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) are building a new prototype sensor for rapid in-field detection and characterization of rare earth elements (REEs) in fossil fuel-based resources and waste materials. REEs are vital in the construction of medical equipment, energy components, defense technologies, modern electronics and a host of other consumer goods. In many cases, these REEs cannot be substituted with other minerals, and other countries control most of the world’s REE supplies. The LANL researchers are combining their expertise to develop a backpack-size field-portable unit to provide simultaneous chemical and mineralogical analysis of REEs. Specifically, the LANL team is leveraging their research in laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) combined with Raman spectrometry.
Brian Anderson
NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., discussed “Paving the Way to a Decarbonized Energy Future” during his keynote address at the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources (BESR) Spring 2021 Meeting: Energy and Resources Needs for a Nation in Transition, which was held Monday, May 10. The focus of the BESR meeting, held by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, was framed around current energy and Earth resources research priorities, with an emphasis on how addressing those priorities could mitigate climate change while simultaneously decreasing adverse social and environmental impacts. In his address, Anderson highlighted NETL’s highly successful record of technological achievements to transition the U.S. to an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. He also outlined the critical role NETL scientists and engineers will play to address the Biden Administration’s ambitious climate goals of a carbon emissions-free power sector by 2035 and a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.
RWFI E-note Monthly
The April 2021 edition of RWFI E-Note Monthly is filled with updates on the latest opportunities to work with federal partners to jump-start community economic development efforts and establish strategies for revitalization and growth. The newsletter’s “Funding Spotlight” explores the FY21 U.S. Economic Development Administration’s University Center Competition, which enables institutions of higher education to establish and operate university centers specifically focused on using university assets to build regional economic ecosystems that support innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship. Another feature in this edition outlines how to apply for the U.S. Department of Energy traineeship in Accelerator Science and Engineering, which provides support to address critical, targeted workforce development needs in fields of interest that support the department’s mission. Information is also listed about programs to diversify the nation’s STEM (science, technology engineering and math) workforce.