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NETL’s Regional Workforce Initiative (RWFI) continued to forge effective partnerships to increase economic impact, workforce development and technology leadership in the 3D printing and defense/energy industries as it hosted a webinar Feb. 16 with the Regional Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Innovation Group (R-AME). Strengthening, supporting and promoting a regional ecosystem that encompasses advanced manufacturing, energy innovation and entrepreneurship is important in creating high-tech and high-earning jobs, as well as producing lasting economic growth for the region. NETL and the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratory network strive to serve as a bridge spanning the early stage of science and discovery to the final stage of commercial deployment by the private sector. The R-AME meeting, which focused on regional efforts, collaborations and partnerships to catalyze research innovation and commercialization of advanced manufacturing and energy technology, marked the third meeting with this group.
A NETL-supported project at the University of Kentucky (UK) successfully conducted pilot-scale testing in their facility that was designed to extract mixed rare earth elements from coal and coal by-products using advanced extraction technologies, achieving production of mixed rare earth oxide (MREO) concentrates of up to 98% purity and exceeding original project goals. During Phase I of their first DOE-funded rare earth recovery project, which began in March 2016, UK and project partners Virginia Tech, West Virginia University, Minerals Refining Company, Blackhawk Mining, and Alliance Coal performed a feasibility study and developed a preliminary design for a pilot-scale plant to process up to ¼ ton per hour of coarse coal refuse and recover rare earths from feedstock materials from the Central Appalachian Basin and Illinois Basin.
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As NETL turns its attention to inspiring the next generation of energy researchers this month, the Lab is presenting four fun and engaging engineering activities that parents can enjoy with their children. These classic educational experiences will help build critical thinking skills that can spur an early interest in science, technology, engineering and math. Blanket Fort Build a childhood memory! This is fun activity for both parents and children that also helps with learning about engineering through play. Is this a fort that can fit the whole family? Is this a jungle hideout or a mad scientist’s lair? Suggested supplies:
Science Bowl
The West Virginia Science Bowl tested students’ knowledge of math and science topics. Middle school teams competed Friday, followed by high school students on Saturday. With the shift to a virtual setting, this year’s Science Bowl followed a slightly altered format; teams competed individually instead of head-to-head with the highest scoring teams moving up. The final winning teams in the two events will compete in the National Science Bowl. Coming in at second, third and fourth place were Morgantown High School teams 1 and 2, of Monongalia County, and Williamstown High School, of Wood County, respectively. In the middle school division, second, third and fourth place were awarded to Triadelphia Middle School Team 1, of Ohio County, Williamstown Middle School, of Wood County, and Triadelphia Middle School Team 2 respectively.
As one of NETL’s most prolific researchers, Ranjani Siriwardane is listed as co-inventor of 25 U.S. patents and has earned numerous scientific awards for discoveries that have had a profound impact on the production of clean and affordable electricity. None of those accomplishments, however, would have been possible without the support of family members, teachers and others who recognized Siriwardane’s early interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and encouraged her to pursue her dreams and overcome obstacles she faced growing up in Sri Lanka, an island nation in South Asia.
NETL’s Richard Dennis, a leader in the field of advanced turbine development, will receive two prestigious awards at this year’s American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Turbomachinery Technical Conference & Exposition, also known as Turbo Expo 2021. The ASME International Gas Turbine Institute will present Dennis with its 2021 Industrial Gas Turbine Technology Award. He also will receive the ASME Dedicated Service Award during the virtual conference and exhibition, which is set for June 7-11. “These are well-deserved honors for Rich, whose expertise has enabled NETL to advance the development of next-generation turbine technology to produce clean, affordable and reliable supplies of electricity using the nation’s abundant fossil energy resources in an environmentally friendly manner,” said NETL Director Brian J. Anderson, Ph.D.
The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) selected NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., for its prestigious Laboratory Director of the Year award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to support technology transfer activities in the NETL organization and the communities it serves. FLC is the formally chartered, nationwide network of over 300 federal laboratories, agencies and research centers that fosters commercialization best practice strategies and opportunities for accelerating federal technologies from out of the labs and into the marketplace. Since Anderson was named NETL director in 2018, his leadership has significantly advanced the Laboratory’s partnerships and technology transfer. He has eagerly and effectively communicated to industry stakeholders with clear and compelling messages of NETL’s vision for technology development and transfer and NETL’s technical research capabilities. In addition, Anderson’s leadership and advocacy led to increased production of NETL intellectual property and related request for licenses and other development agreements.  
Funding opportunities to prepare workers for rewarding careers in the energy sector and other high-tech industries are among the many items featured in the January 2021 edition of RWFI E-Note Monthly. This first newsletter of the new year is one not to miss. It’s packed with information about programs to spur economic recovery in communities that have experienced sharp job losses, as well as initiatives to develop the needed talent in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to support advanced manufacturing and other emerging industries across the Appalachia and other regions. Important announcements in this edition of RWFI E-Note Monthly include:
A project team supported by NETL has successfully drilled a 9,745-foot-deep stratigraphic test well in the Paradox Basin of Utah and extracted a greater-than-expected amount of whole core rock samples from the subsurface. The material will now be analyzed to better understand the region’s geology, especially the role of natural fractures, and identify optimum strategies to recover oil from the sizable Cane Creek resource play. “It was a tremendous way to start 2021,” said John R. Duda, associate director, Technology Development Center, NETL. “This was the first time that such extensive continuous whole core rock samples were extracted from deep within the subsurface in the unconventional Cane Creek play.”
NETL’s water-energy research and development (R&D) activities are now the focus of a new quarterly newsletter set for release later this month. Additionally, the recent launch of the Lab’s Water-Energy Research homepage further highlights NETL’s capabilities and competencies across a broad spectrum of water-energy topics directed at enhancing the nation’s fossil energy infrastructure while protecting the environment. The newsletter will feature water-energy project highlights, spotlights of the Lab’s researchers, upcoming water-energy conferences and more. It will cover the width and breadth of the Lab’s in-house and extramural water-related activities across NETL’s crosscutting, carbon capture and storage, oil and gas, critical minerals and rare earth element recovery, modeling and analysis, coal byproduct and other programs. The inaugural January 2021 edition highlights funding opportunities and recently awarded research projects, journal publications and work being carried out in support of the National Alliance for Water Innovation.