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Advancing Energy Solutions through Reaction Engineering
Dan Hayes, in the Materials Synthesis and Electrochemistry Lab at NETL in Morgantown, WV, synthesizing a pyrochlore catalyst for hydrocarbon reforming.

Director’s Corner

by Brian Anderson, Ph.D.

At NETL, our business is energy innovation and advancing technologies to enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations.  A key aspect of this work is finding ways to make our energy generating systems more efficient, thus lowering their environmental impact. This means developing sensors and materials for harsh environments. It also means optimizing chemical reactions through catalyst development, better reactor design, and fine tuning reaction conditions. 

NETL researchers are on the leading edge of reaction engineering research. Our talented team of men and women are advancing novel catalysts and finding ways to optimize chemical reaction processes. The result is less waste, fewer separations in industrial processes and a reduced energy footprint across the manufacturing space. 

In the Lab’s Reaction Analysis and Chemical Transformation (REACT) Facility, researchers can tune every aspect of a chemical reaction by running through thousands of scenarios. REACT’s unique capabilities enable researchers to work toward optimizing chemical reactor designs for specific transformations, including novel approaches like microwaves to selectively energize chemical reactions. 

Innovations being developed by NETL’s reaction engineering researchers and in the ReACT facility are leading to efficiencies that increase power production, reduce overall costs, reduce targeted emissions, and provide for product generation from abundant fossil fuels.

This month, we’re featuring NETL’s work in reaction engineering. Check our newsroom throughout September to read more about: 

  • How NETL and industry partner Pyrochem Catalyst Company are advancing catalysts to treat the pollutant gases expelled by a vehicle’s internal combustion engine, improving fuel economy and bringing combustion-based vehicles in line with more stringent emission standards. 
  • How team diversity is providing unique problem-solving dynamics to complete ground-breaking research in microwave catalysis technology, improving chemical conversions and discovering new processes to manufacture high-value chemicals, fuels, fuel additives and other products from fossil energy resources with enhanced efficiency and at lower cost. 
  • How NETL researchers are harnessing the power of microwaves to create valuable chemicals from the nation’s abundant supplies of fossil resources, cutting costs and reducing energy requirements while achieving higher yields and greater selectivity of products. 

NETL has a long history of developing energy conversion systems and pioneering new technologies. I’m pleased to share this selection of our innovations in reaction engineering.