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From left to right, a panel of aerial photographs of the NETL Albany, NETL Morgantown, and NETL Pittsburgh campuses.
NETL Takes Oppenheimer Fellows on ‘Deep Dive’ into National Lab System

NETL senior officials discussed programs driving the development of sustainable energy technologies and the organizational structure that supports and advances its research activities during a meeting with up-and-coming leaders of the national lab system.

On Monday, May 9, NETL held a virtual discussion with representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) national labs who were selected to participate in the Oppenheimer Science and Energy Leadership Program (OSELP) 2022 Cohort.

“OSELP is a distinguished fellows program that brings together exceptional leaders to explore the complexities, challenges and opportunities facing the national lab system and DOE. It was an honor and tremendous opportunity for NETL to share our insights with this elite group,” said NETL Director Brian Anderson.

Fellows in the Oppenheimer program — named for J. Robert Oppenheimer, head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory during World War II — study the national lab system in its entirety and engage with senior leadership as well as essential academic and industry partners while exploring innovative ways to improve collective research enterprises.

The 2022 OSELP Cohort consists of 33 individuals representing all 17 DOE national labs, with professional backgrounds spanning technical, operational and strategic domains.

During the one-year program, Oppenheimer fellows participate in a series of sessions and visits to collaborate on the development of “think-pieces” aimed at tackling major organizational, policy, scientific and other challenges confronting the national lab system. This deep dive into the DOE national lab system provides opportunities to exchange ideas with other labs and acquire a rich understanding of the organizational, operational and partnership dimensions of the DOE lab system.

Sydni Credle, technology manager and portfolio lead for three NETL Crosscutting Research programs, was selected as a fellow for the 2022 OSELP Cohort. NETL’s David Miller, senior fellow for Strategic Systems Analysis and Engineering, was a member of the 2020/2021 OSELP Cohort.

The daylong virtual session began with a discussion led by Jennifer Wilcox, principal deputy assistant secretary for DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, who shared her experiences serving as an OSELP Fellow in 2018 and how it prepared her to meet challenges as the nation undergoes a transformational shift to clean energy.

In his remarks, Anderson provided an overview and history of NETL. He also highlighted initiatives undertaken through the Lab’s intramural research program and with partners in industry and academia to achieve the Biden administration’s goals calling for net-zero carbon emissions in the power sector by 2035 and the broader economy by 2050.

Anderson explained that achieving U.S. climate goals will require the development of a broad portfolio of technology options that can be widely deployed throughout the United States to decarbonize not only the power sector but also the industrial, manufacturing and transportation sectors.

Anderson told the Oppenheimer fellows that NETL, as the only government-owned, government-operated laboratory in the DOE complex, possesses the competency, capability and authority to grasp strategic imperatives and lead initiatives that advance America’s energy, economic and manufacturing priorities.

Core competencies and the recently launched Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program also were discussed. LDRD allocates funding to national labs to advance high-risk, high-reward projects and provide a proving ground for new concepts, which helps to attract and retain top scientific and engineering talent.

NETL projects selected for funding in the first year of the LDRD program include upcycling plastic waste to high-value carbon products and low-temperature, microwave-driven ammonia decomposition for hydrogen generation.

The Lab’s leaders also updated the Oppenheimer fellows about how NETL has managed safety and other issues at its sites in Albany, Oregon; Morgantown, West Virginia; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By leveraging its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.