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NETL’s inventions recognized by TechConnect build upon the Lab’s work to remove CO2 from power plant operations and scrub organic contaminants from environmental and industrial water sources.
NETL Inventions Take Home Wins at 2020 TechConnect Innovation Awards

NETL inventions to separate carbon dioxide (CO2) from post-combustion flue gases and remove contaminants from water sources won at the recent 2020 TechConnect Innovation Awards for their ability to contribute to a more sustainable environment while providing potential economic benefits.

Researchers David Hopkinson, Victor Kusuma and Surendar Venna earned an award for their development of “Crosslinked Polymer Blend Membranes for CO2 Separation” which builds upon previous work to capture greenhouse gases from the nation’s power plant fleet.

Membrane-based separation is one of the most promising solutions for CO2 removal from post-combustion flue gases produced in power generation. Analyses showed that these membranes must possess high gas permeability. However, most high-permeability materials suffer from poor mechanical properties or unacceptable loss in performance over time due to physical aging. This technology is a successful attempt to turn one of these high-performance materials with poor mechanical properties into one amenable for use in practical separation membranes with virtually no physical aging issues.

NETL’s resulting product effectively turns semi-solid polyphosphazenes, a class of hybrid inorganic-organic polymers, into usable, high-performance membranes. Targeted applications include gas separation, such as CO2 separation applications like capturing CO2 from fossil fuel post-combustion flue gas or CO2 separation from natural gas and liquid separation activities like water purification and organic solvent separations. Flame-resistant coatings and solid electrolytes for battery applications can also be produced with this technology.

The TechConnect Innovation Awards also recognized Brian Kail, McMahan Gray, Walter Wilfong and Qiuming Wang for their invention “Immobilized Amine Sorbents for the Removal of Organic Contaminants from Environmental and Industrial Water Sources,” which can remediate the effects of industries like dye and textiles on local water supplies.

This invention presents fast and easily prepared immobilized amine sorbents that contain polyamines, chemical cross-linkers and silica that are structurally stable and can capture a variety of dye and colorant species from flowing aqueous streams. Furthermore, the sorbents are recyclable over multiple cycles, showing promise for commercial-scale processes involving colorant removal from flowing aqueous streams or stationary aqueous environments. The sorbents also have a low raw material cost and are free of sodium and calcium adsorptions, indicating that the sorbent will capture pollutant dyes in the presence of accompanying additives from a variety of water sources like textile runoff and drinking water.

Anticipated uses of these sorbents include any flowing or stagnant aqueous system with dye materials including drinking water, ponds, rivers, lakes, seawater and groundwater. Some key sources for the dye can be from textile wastewater streams, food processing wastewater streams and coffee bean waste waters.

Alternative uses of the invention includes the adsorption of toxic organic materials that bear structural similarity to the dye molecules. What’s more, this patent also has the potential of removing perfluorooctanoic acid in wastewater from the manufacturing of polytetrafluoroethylene (commonly known as Teflon) and pesticides introduced into the environment.

“Inventions such as these show that we can have the best of both worlds. Thanks to the contributions of our world-class scientists and engineers, we’ve seen that we can enjoy the fruits of our industries while leaving behind a more prosperous and cleaner environment in the process,” said David Alman, associate director of materials engineering and manufacturing at NETL. “With so many worthy technologies featured, I’m thrilled TechConnect has recognized the potential of these NETL technologies.”

TechConnect is the global research and innovation event and media leader with more than 20 years of experience connecting emerging technologies with unique funding and partnership opportunities. TechConnect actively supports student, governmental and global science and technology initiatives through its event platforms and over 10,000 open-access publications. Each year TechConnect prospects, vets, and connects thousands of emerging technologies for industry, investment, and government clients. TechConnect’s Innovation Awards showcase new technologies in energy, materials, manufacturing, environmental sustainability, artificial intelligence, medical technology and more.

NETL is a DOE national laboratory that produces technological solutions for America’s energy challenges. From developing creative innovations and efficient energy systems that make coal more competitive, to advancing technologies that enhance oil and natural gas extraction and transmission processes, NETL research is providing breakthroughs and discoveries that support domestic energy initiatives, stimulate a growing economy, and improve the health, safety, and security of all Americans. Highly skilled men and women at NETL’s sites in Albany, Oregon; Anchorage, Alaska; Houston, Texas; Morgantown, West Virginia; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania conduct a broad range of research activities that support DOE’s mission to advance the national, economic, and energy security of the United States.