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The R&D Plateau at NETL in Pittsburgh, PA
NETL together with the Quantum Science Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Pittsburgh Quantum Institute (PQI) to hold a joint workshop on April 16th as part of the PQI2021 Virtual Workshop on quantum information science, held April 13-16. As a free workshop, PQI2021 gave attendees the opportunity to explore panel discussions on quantum science applications in communications, defense and other topics, along with a series of speakers from national and international universities. The field of quantum mechanics has laid the foundation for science and engineering in the 20th century, forming the roots of semiconductors, superconductors, magnetic materials and the periodic table. The increasingly sophisticated ability to understand the quantum nature of matter led to the development of many inventions such as transistors, lasers and MRI scanners, which have profoundly transformed society technologically.
NETL’s Regional Workforce Initiative (RWFI), together with the Tri State Energy and Advanced Manufacturing (TEAM) Consortium and the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI), highlighted the various elements at play to paint a picture of what the future of manufacturing and energy jobs holds during the “Predicting Future Regional and National Energy Workforce Needs” webinar. The webinar brought together entities from academia, private industry, nonprofit organizations and government agencies such as People’s Natural Gas, the Robert C. Byrd Institute, the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, Shell, Ohio University, West Virginia University and the U.S. Energy Association, among many others. Anthony Armaly, federal coordinator of NETL RWFI said the webinar centered on four focus areas: job opportunity metrics, opportunities for work, states with the widest potential for energy and manufacturing job growth, and how regional development strategies are the most effective path forward.
NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., shared his leadership philosophies and best practices regarding the Lab’s technology transfer program in pursuit of net-zero carbon emissions during the annual meeting of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC), held in a virtual format April 6-8.
NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., shared his leadership philosophies and best practices regarding the Lab’s technology transfer program in pursuit of net-zero carbon emissions during the annual meeting of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC), held in a virtual format April 6-8. FLC is the formally chartered, nationwide network of more than 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. Earlier this year, FLC selected Anderson 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.
NETL and the U.S. Geological Survey have signed a memorandum of agreement to work together on rare earth elements research.
NETL and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to share geologic samples containing rare earth elements (REE) and critical minerals (CM). The arrangement will bolster REE and CM research for both organizations and help ensure vital components of clean energy technology will continue to be manufactured well into the future as the nation works to secure independence from offshore REE reliance. In addition to being used to create many of the technologies Americans use every day, REEs are essential for manufacturing of batteries for electric cars, magnets for wind turbines, solar cells and other technologies that are paving the way toward a net-zero emissions energy economy by 2050. Furthermore, NETL research is focused on extracting REEs from coal and coal byproducts, reimaging coal in the form of valuable products to provide new jobs in areas hard hit by declining industries.
Check out the March 2021 edition of RWFI E-Note Monthly to learn how to engage with NETL and other federal agencies in collaborative development efforts to prepare workers for high-tech jobs in energy-related fields and to meet the growing demand for a diverse and highly skilled workforce. This latest edition includes information about the Industry-University Cooperative Research Program, which is designed to help industry partners and government agencies develop the next generation of talented researchers who will make important discoveries in science and engineering and conduct high-impact research to meet shared and critical industrial needs in companies of all sizes. Other articles featured in RWFI E-Note Monthly explore:
Brian Anderson
NETL’s work to unite public research initiatives with private industry to proliferate sustainable energy technologies were front and center during the 2021 Oil and Natural Gas Technology Symposium: Focus on Sustainability. Collaboratively developed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG), the symposium was a virtual event from April 6-7 that showcased the latest energy tech innovations to improve fuel efficiency and sustainability while reducing environmental impact and enhancing recovery efforts. Event speakers — representing major oil and service companies such as Shell and Baker Hughes as well as  government entities, including the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) — addressed the role of oil and natural gas in the country’s ongoing energy transition with the advent of technology advances and changes to operational practices in the industry. NETL Director Brian Anderson was among them and detailed public/private research collaboration and opportunities the Lab can offer.
D3 Workshop image
NETL highlighted its expertise in data management and curation at the virtual U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Data days Conference (D3), which recently released its final report on conference proceedings. Researchers from the Lab were integral in the organization of the conference and had many opportunities to share how NETL is ensuring enduring and efficient access to data resources and exploring novel solutions to a number of challenges, from improving data accessibility to developing novel data-science tools and more. The Lab’s significant developments in data management are addressing critical needs in the areas of data access, data sharing and cloud computing to support DOE research and enhance the nation’s energy infrastructure.
SOFC FiberOptic Sensor Development
Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) hold great promise for providing highly efficient, clean energy for a low-carbon economy. However, adoption of these next-generation technologies hinges on reducing component degradation and improving longevity. The ability to make numerous, real-time, highly accurate temperature measurements across an SOFC could better inform SOFC modeling efforts aimed at designing more resilient fuel cells. To this end, NETL researchers, in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh, have successfully embedded multiple distributed fiber optic sensors into an SOFC multi-cell test to achieve a previously unattainable degree of spatial resolution in temperature measurement. The work was recently featured in an article in the prestigious journal Applied Energy.
With support from partners in academia, NETL researchers have taken steps toward realizing the potential of rotating detonation combustion technology, which can offer a number of advantages over conventional internal combustion. Internal combustion engines such as gas turbines are effective, but they suffer pressure and power output limitations. Rotating detonating engines create controlled, continuous detonation waves that rotate inside a modified gas turbine combustion chamber. This allows the engines to be able to avoid pressure losses and the subsequent decreases in efficiency that occur with conventional gas turbine engines. The rotating detonation process enables more of a fuel’s energy to be captured and utilized, resulting in higher power output, less fuel consumption, a smaller industrial footprint and reduced environmental impact. 
In a groundbreaking study, NETL researchers and their collaborators compiled and analyzed an unprecedented amount of regulatory data that describes the integrity of oil and gas wells in multiple states. The study results will be valuable for industry operators and regulatory agencies as they seek to prevent well leakage and ensure the success of carbon storage, oil and gas production, natural gas storage, and hydrogen storage operations. Findings are presented in a research article titled “Public data from three U.S. states provide new insights into well integrity” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.