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An NETL collaboration with Cerebras Systems has demonstrated that their acclaimed CS-1 system could perform a key computational fluid dynamics (CFD) workload more than 200 times faster and at a fraction of the power consumption than the same workload on an optimized number of cores of the Lab’s supercomputer JOULE 2.0. Further development of this unique computational architecture could lead to a paradigm shift in NETL’s high-performance computing (HPC) efforts and help overcome challenges facing researchers as they design and model next-generation energy systems. The research was led by Dirk Van Essendelft, Ph.D., machine learning and data science engineer at NETL, and Michael James, Cerebras chief architect of advanced technologies and a cofounder of the company.
Gas Well
Drilling of a nearly 10,000-foot-deep characterization well in the Paradox Basin of Utah is scheduled to begin in late 2020. The primary goal of this field laboratory supported by NETL is to generate new strategies to efficiently extract oil from unconventional shales in the region. Spudding of the well, or initiation of drilling operations, will take place at the project site located near the community of Green River in Grand County. The Utah Geological Survey estimates undiscovered recoverable oil reserves from the Cane Creek shale play and other shales in the Paradox Basin of at least 471 million barrels, making the development of these sizable resources an important step to maintain U.S. energy independence. After it is drilled to a depth of 9,850 feet, the well will be used by NETL and its project partners, including the University of Utah and Zephyr Energy, to study and characterize the regional geology, stress regime and natural fracture networks.
Super Computer
According to the latest rankings by TOP500, NETL’s Joule 2.0 supercomputer remains among the most powerful in the world, securing a position of 11th among DOE national labs, 26th in the United States and 82nd in the world. Supercomputing is essential in achieving NETL’s mission to discover, integrate and mature technology solutions that enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations. By expediting technology development through computational science and engineering, Joule 2.0 helps NETL cut costs, save time and spur valuable economic investments with a global impact. Named for the familiar unit of energy, Joule allows researchers to model energy technologies, simulate challenging phenomena and solve complex calculations using computational tools that save time and money to ensure that technology development ultimately proves successful. A $16.5 million upgrade in 2019 boosted Joule’s computational power to 5.767 PFLOPS, meaning that it can perform more than 5 quadrillion calculations per second. That’s equivalent to roughly 54,658 desktop computers combined.
Across Appalachia, natural gas producers are supporting the energy security of the United States as they continue to tap the vast shale gas resources of the region. Shale gas is used for heating and power production, but the chemical industry also relies heavily on natural gas as a feedstock to manufacture valuable chemicals. With some of the world’s most cutting-edge facilities and a roster of preeminent fossil energy researchers, the Lab has decades of experience converting carbon to higher-value products and the established infrastructure to create an innovation center capable of transforming the downstream sector. With this in mind, NETL has prioritized natural gas utilization, leveraging the Lab’s capabilities and expertise to identify more uses for natural gas and bring valuable products to market faster, at lower cost and with less environmental impact. “We strive to bring national focus and coordination to technology development associated with the conversion of natural gas to high-value commodities, ultimately strengthening our national economy and national security,” said NETL Director Brian J. Anderson, Ph.D.
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Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Brad Deel, EnerVest An NETL-sponsored project that could unlock access to large reservoirs of natural gas in Central Appalachia and extract those resources with technology designed to leave a light environmental footprint has earned accolades from state and industry officials. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy’s Division of Gas and Oil, in partnership with the Virginia Oil and Gas Association (VOGA), presented NETL and its project partners with the Excellence in Exploration Innovation Award for the development of the Emerging Stacked Unconventional Plays (ESUP) field laboratory and characterization well in southwestern Virginia. Click here to review the complete list of winners who received the 2019 Virginia Gas and Oil Industry Awards.
Oil Recovery
A project utilizing NETL and industry expertise in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is underway in southern Michigan to unlock access to significant resources in the Trenton/Black River play by injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) with specifically designed chemical additives into the subsurface to improve the flow of oil to production wells. This month, NETL’s industry partners are drilling an approximately 3,900-foot well in Jackson County, located about 55 miles west of Ann Arbor, to collect data and to be used later as a recovery/production well. As the project moves forward, a second well will be drilled nearby to collect additional data and to be used as the injection well. CO2, which will be captured from industrial sources and brought on-site, will be injected into the underground oil reservoir to boost production.
The Ambient Pressure Microwave Synthesis of Ammonia research was performed at NETL’s state-of-the-art Reaction Analysis & Chemical Transformation facility in Morgantown, W.Va.
NETL’s pioneering Microwave Ammonia Synthesis (MAS) took home the 2020 IChemE Global Awards in the category of Research Project for its potential to aid in agriculture, energy production and other applications while also lowering costs and overall energy use. Ammonia is one of the most widely used chemicals compounds worldwide, alongside polyethylene, and is largely used in the fertilizer market. Liquid ammonia also possesses all the desired physiochemical properties for Carbon Neutral Liquid Fuels which allow power generation without carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. For more than a century, ammonia has been produced in bulk using the Haber-Bosch process which functions at high pressures and temperatures and requires a constant supply of energy. However, the MAS process developed by NETL in partnership with West Virginia University operates at near ambient pressures and is not dependent on a continuous supply of power because only a small area is heated during the process via microwave reactions.
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) issued a Notice of Intent for a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) expected to support projects facilitating the design, construction, and operation of engineering-scale prototypes of water treatment technologies for the Nation’s existing and future fleet of thermoelectric power plants. Water is a fixed resource with competing demands. There is an inextricable link between water and energy, as thermoelectric power generation accounts for 40 percent of freshwater withdrawals and 3 percent of freshwater consumption in the United States. Identifying and treating alternative sources of water, such as effluent streams, supports DOE’s Water Security Grand Challenge Goal 3: “Achieve near-zero water impact for new thermoelectric power plants, and significantly lower freshwater use intensity within the existing fleet.”
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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL invites public comment about the technical issues needed 1) to make treated and untreated produced water available for non-oilfield and oilfield use and 2) to reduce the volume of oilfield flowback and produced water disposed of in salt water disposal wells within the Permian Basin, by promoting its beneficial use in the oilfield or its use within other industries. The goal is to transform the produced water from a waste to a resource. Through a potential prize competition, DOE would seek demonstrations of higher technology readiness level (TRL) technologies that treat produced water for use within other industries or demand centers outside oil and natural gas operations.
NETL will showcase its research capabilities in materials engineering and manufacturing at this year’s Materials Science and Technology Technical Meeting and Exhibition (MS&T20), to be held Nov. 2-6. MS&T is an annual conference focused on recent advances in materials science and technology and is organized by some of the leading materials science societies, such as the American Ceramic Society, the Association for Iron & Steel Technology and the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society. Each year, MS&T brings together scientists, engineers, students, suppliers and business leaders to discuss current research and technical applications to help shape the future of materials science and technology. MS&T20 expects more than 3,200 attendees, this year in a virtual format, to discuss the latest advances in the materials engineering field. The conference addresses structure, properties, processing and performance across the materials community and showcases a wide variety of equipment and services to the automotive, aerospace, instrumentation, medical, oilfield and energy industries.