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Maximizing Opportunities in Natural Gas Utilization
Photo courtesy of Brad Deel of EnerVest

Director’s Corner

by Brian Anderson, Ph.D.

The prudent development of our nation’s vast natural gas resources is essential to ensuring the nation’s continued energy resilience, economic strength and energy security. That’s why NETL is working hard to innovate new ways in which we can use the nation’s natural gas resources to maximize the benefit for the American people, including those within the regions where NETL resides, who have been hard hit by the decline in coal demand. Natural gas utilization is a priority for NETL, and we’re advancing innovations that can enhance and increase conversion to useful products, developing new technologies for adding value to our natural energy resource.

NETL’s natural gas research includes advancing technologies to improve recovery efficiency of this important resource and working to make production safer for operators and for the environment, while examining ways to improve the performance of delivering these resources through our nation’s pipeline infrastructure. We’re also conducting research to better understand emerging and unconventional plays like shale gas. 

The U.S. Department of Energy has a long history of successful breakthroughs related to natural gas. From the 1970s to the 1990s, several DOE-funded R&D technologies would optimize production of shale across the United States. Tools resulting from this effort made the American shale revolution possible: directional drilling, micro seismic monitoring of multi-stage hydraulic fracturing treatments and modeling.

Today, NETL continues this forward-looking approach. One example is the identification of natural gas utilization as a key laboratory initiative, which could contribute toward U.S. ability to serve as a world leader in the conversion of natural gas and its liquid components into the feedstocks used to manufacture an extensive list of consumer products. This initiative would leverage the Lab’s world-class capabilities, including decades of conversion expertise and state-of-the-art facilities, to identify technology innovations to bring valuable energy commodities to market faster, at lower cost and with no environmental impact.

Throughout November, we’re featuring NETL’s work in natural gas utilization, especially how NETL is exploring ways to convert Appalachia’s abundant shale gas resources to higher value chemicals via innovation and advanced manufacturing. Visit our website to read more.  

Photo courtesy of Brad Deel of EnerVest.