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NETL’s contributions toward clean, decarbonized power and industrial sectors were detailed throughout the 45th Clearwater Clean Energy Conference, held from July 26-29 in an all-virtual setting.
The contributions of NETL and its partner organizations toward realizing a clean, decarbonized power sector were detailed throughout the 45th Clearwater Clean Energy Conference, held July 26-29 in an all-virtual setting in which NETL associate laboratory director for Research & Innovation Bryan Morreale delivered the keynote address. The Lab took an active role in the conference, with NETL Thermal Science Team supervisor Ronald Breault serving as Clearwater Clean Energy Conference Committee Co-Chair in addition to delivering opening remarks for the event. He was also presented with the Percy Nichols Award for 2020 for notable scientific or industrial achievement in the field of solid fuels. “Ron’s recognition is great for NETL and demonstrates the top-tier scientists and engineers hard at work every day to address our country’s greatest energy challenges,” said Bryan Morreale, NETL associate laboratory director for Research & Innovation.
Water Energy nexus
The summer 2021 edition of the Water-Energy Nexus Newsletter is filled with updates concerning NETL’s ongoing water-energy research and related activities. The newsletter highlights the Lab’s recent virtual Water Management Research and Development (R&D) review meeting, which focused on the progress being made on cooperative research and technology developments to reduce water use in energy production. A portfolio of in-house and extramural research projects was discussed, including a presentation by NETL’s Tim Skone and Erik Schuster on the impact of water use from power systems. The review meeting was attended by scientists, engineers and researchers from academia, industry, and the public working in the water-energy space.
The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is partnering with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Duke University and the University of Arizona to develop a reactor that will selectively concentrate rare earth elements (REEs) in an environmentally benign way. REEs are extracted from coal waste and used in various industries—such as energy, defense and medical—to perform vital functions in order for products to function. Making use of this coal waste, to recover REEs will continue to perform clean energy functions and create jobs for workers in coal communities. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NETL, with partners and collaborators at national laboratories, academia and other industries, are working on projects to develop a domestic supply of these resources, which are abundant in carbon ore and their by-products.
NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., and five of the Lab’s leading experts in the development of carbon management strategies and technologies will be featured presenters at the Carbon Capture, Storage & Utilization Virtual Forum on Tuesday, July 27. The forum will examine the latest technology advances, business models, research findings and real-world applications for capturing, storing and utilizing carbon dioxide (CO2). Utilization of CO2 as a commodity will be explored, as well as transportation to storage sites and injection deep underground into geological strata such as depleted oil and gas reservoirs and deep saline formations. Click here to register for the forum.
NETL demonstrated various technologies under development and emerging best practices to realize the Biden Administration’s goal of transforming the U.S. energy sector during the Smart Grid Observer (SGO) Carbon Capture, Storage & Utilization Virtual Forum, held on Tuesday, July 27. The event examined the latest technology advances, business models, research findings and real-world applications for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) applications. The forum also emphasized strategies and options for making the economics of carbon capture acceptable to a broad range of businesses and governments. NETL provided insights and perspectives during sessions on CCUS; Economic Analysis & Modeling; and NETL’s in-house capture and storage programs.
Three years into their formal research partnership, NETL and Wyoming-based technology firm Ramaco Carbon are driving the development of carbon materials that could lead to safer vehicles, less expensive batteries, more durable roads and bridges, and other game-changing innovations while advancing new uses for coal, one of the nation’s most abundant resources. These technological breakthroughs have been made as part of the cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) signed by NETL and Ramaco in June 2018, and will help ensure that fossil energy communities are not left behind as the U.S. undergoes a sweeping transformation to establish a carbon emissions-free power sector by 2035 and a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. “Collaborating with Ramaco and other partners, NETL is leading a historic shift, in which coal goes from being used to produce electricity to an inexpensive feedstock for carbon, a versatile building block to manufacture high-tech products,” said Christopher Matranga, Ph.D., a member of NETL’s Functional Materials Team.
IWG flags in neighborhood
On July 22, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced a commitment to coal communities that allocates $300 million in American Rescue Plan funds to support economic revitalization in hard-hit coal and energy communities. The new funding announcement advances the broader goals of the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization.  NETL Director and IWG Executive Director Brian Anderson said, “For generations, energy communities helped build America and now it’s time to help them rebuild. Today’s funding announcement is a powerful first step in helping revitalize the nation’s coal and power plant communities by helping create good jobs, clean up environmental waste and support energy workers as the nation transitions to a clean energy economy.”
NOI Logo
Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM), in collaboration with the Office of Nuclear Energy and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Geothermal Technology Office, issued a notice of intent (NOI) for a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) expected to support front-end engineering design (FEED) studies of direct air capture (DAC) combined with dedicated storage and coupled to existing low-carbon energy. If the FOA is issued, it will support the advancement of DAC technologies that remove carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide removal is essential to addressing the hardest to decarbonize sectors to meet the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Applications must include host site letters of commitment; therefore, advanced notice is being given to support the development of these relationships. Additionally, a minimum of 20% cost share will be required and this NOI provides additional time to obtain non-federal resources. 
The June 2021 edition of RWFI E-Note Monthly provides up-to-date information about funding opportunities to launch and support workforce development initiatives in rural communities and ensure all students have access to quality programs that prioritize science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Links and submission deadlines are provided for a range of funding programs. This edition spotlights eligibility requirements and explains how to apply for funds through the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program. The RCDG program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve economic conditions in rural areas. Another feature highlights a program to help farmers and rural small businesses determine the feasibility of using renewable energy systems (wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro power, and hydrogen-based sources) to improve their operations.
NETL expertise in energy conversion engineering was front-and-center at the 17th International Symposium on Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC-XVII) digital meeting, held July 18-23, 2021, as NETL SOFC Technical Portfolio Lead Gregory Hackett, Ph.D., co-chaired the “Cell, Stack, and System Modeling and Simulation” session and served as moderator for a live Q&A event with conference participants. SOFCs are an important technology option for reaching decarbonization goals of carbon-free power production by 2035 and a net-zero economy by 2050. Electrochemical devices that convert the chemical energy of a fuel and oxidant directly into electrical energy, SOFCs produce electricity through an electrochemical reaction and not through a combustion process. They are much more efficient and environmentally benign than conventional electric power generation processes, and their inherent characteristics make them uniquely suitable to address the environmental, climate change, and water concerns associated with fossil fuel based electric power generation.