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NETL Director Shares Decarbonization Advancements at Pittsburgh Conference
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NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., highlighted the crucial decarbonization strategies associated with fossil energy use at the 2022 International Pittsburgh Coal Conference, held virtually this week.

Anderson kicked off the first plenary session of the conference with a discussion of how integrated carbon management solutions can enable the transformation to a net-zero energy future.

“Carbon management requires a multi-faceted approach to effectively forge a path forward. NETL is committed to working with partners to develop multi-scale technologies to implement a sustainable and fair net-zero carbon economy,” Anderson said. “This means we must look at every sector — energy, industry, transportation and the entire economy. While we focus on the work needed to scale these critical technologies, we must also incorporate a new way of thinking, where environmental justice, equity and workforce development are at the center of our work. Ensuring the fair and just deployment means that there must be early, frequent and meaningful engagement with environmental justice communities, indigenous communities and tribal nations, labor groups and frontline communities.”

Anderson highlighted the Lab’s broad portfolio of innovative technology options and focused on four specific carbon management approaches.

  • Point Source Carbon Capture fosters an array of technologies for the separation of carbon dioxide (CO2) from a wide spectrum of emissions sources, including facilities that produce power, hydrogen, ethanol, cement or steel.
  • Carbon Dioxide Removal advances a diverse set of approaches to directly remove CO2 that has accumulated in the atmosphere, facilitating gigaton-scale removal by 2050. This research emphasizes rigorous analysis of life cycle impacts and a deep commitment to environmental justice.
  • Carbon Conversion develops technologies to transform CO2 and other carbon byproducts and wastes into valuable products in an efficient, economical and environmentally friendly manner.
  • Carbon Transport and Storage aims to provide safe, secure and affordable geologic storage of carbon dioxide deep underground for geologic time periods.

The NETL Director also touched on opportunities to develop integrated energy systems, which synergistically incorporate diverse energy sources, including renewable, nuclear and fossil with carbon capture to more effectively provide environmentally sustainable, cost-effective and reliable power, heat, mobility and other products and services.

John Wimer, NETL’s acting chief research officer, also spoke during the first plenary session, explaining how the Lab is charting the pathways for achieving net-zero carbon energy systems. Speaking later in the day, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) Jennifer Wilcox addressed the role of carbon capture in meeting net-zero carbon goals. FECM supports a wide range of carbon capture projects across the nation.

NETL’s Tom Sarkus gave a presentation on the topic of clean coal demonstration and commercial products. “We’ve learned some incredibly valuable lessons from our large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects, and sharing this information can help advance other CCS projects,” Sarkus said. “I also held a virtual exhibit on how other organizations can work with NETL to help realize the Administration’s goals of helping to address the climate crisis and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

Throughout the week, several other NETL researchers and technical experts presented on topics that included hydrogen production through gasification; sorbent development for direct air capture; the status of the Lab’s Carbon Ore Processing Program; techno-economic analyses of carbon capture solvents; pilot plant testing of carbon capture solvents; fractionation of critical metals from acid mine drainage; and power plant communication technologies.

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.