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NETL Pursues a Bright Energy Future

Discovery, development and deployment of effective and safe technologies for the recovery of underground energy sources like oil, gas, and the emerging possibilities for gas hydrates in the deepwater of the Gulf of Mexico are at the heart of NETL’s mission to conduct research for a prosperous American energy future. It’s a mission that has already produced successes, but is poised to create even more opportunities.

Work on these unconventional energy sources and the technologies that will bring them to bear on our nation’s energy security includes some of our most promising research. Here are a few examples.

  • An NETL-sponsored team led by the University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) recovered the first pressurized cores from a gas hydrate reservoir in the deep water of the Gulf of Mexico. Gas hydrates are crystal structures that form under specific conditions of low temperature and high pressure where frozen water traps methane molecules. Methane is a good energy source, so understanding how to access and use methane hydrates is an important goal. Methane hydrates are in great abundance in the arctic permafrost and in the shallow sediments of the deep-water continental shelves—like those in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • NETL is proud of its work to more effectively access the 104,000 square miles of the underground Marcellus natural gas trend through support of the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory (MSEEL). The activity, in partnership with West Virginia University, Northeast Natural Energy and The Ohio State University, is providing a long-term collaborative field site to improve Marcellus Shale resource development MSEEL is giving scientists the opportunity to study the entire process of drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and recovery of Marcellus Shale natural gas.
  • NETL teamed with Gas Technology Institute (GTI) of Des Plaines, IL, to develop a hydraulic fracturing test site program that is also advancing the understanding of the hydraulic fracturing processes to attain greater efficiencies, and improve environmental impacts. The NETL–GTI activity, has made progress in improving the design and execution of fracturing processes that will reduce the number of infill wells to be drilled, water used, and the energy input required during future oil and gas recovery efforts.

Unconventional energy research is among many successes in NETL’s innovation portfolio dedicated to discovering, developing, and integrating modern technologies that help enhance our nation’s energy dominance. It is a portfolio we are very proud to pursue and excited to build upon.