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Second Annual Infrastructure Sensing Workshop Explores Impacts of New Developments at NETL and University of Pittsburgh
Photograph of a Pittsburgh bridge.

The 2nd Annual University of Pittsburgh Infrastructure Sensing Workshop (UPISW) highlighted the exchange of ideas on the development of sensor technologies for monitoring infrastructure, energy delivery and storage, conventional and renewable energy generation, carbon storage, operation of the nation’s electrical grid, and other topics.

Held Nov. 7-8 at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the UPISW encouraged technical exchanges and brainstorming between NETL, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM), the University of Pittsburgh (UPitt), and sensing technology industry stakeholders to advance technologies and respond to funding opportunities.

“Events such as the UPISW are all about leveraging what the best minds in the region have to offer and what they can accomplish when they work together,” said James Ferguson, NETL State & Local Partnerships Manager.

“The Lab and UPitt have a long history of using their expertise and state-of-the-art capabilities for development of sensing materials and sensor devices to monitor structural and environmental energy infrastructures.” 

There is an increasing need for advanced infrastructure sensing technologies to meet the nation’s needs. These infrastructures are essential for the nation’s safe and secure operation, including power generation, energy transportation, power grid, civil structures and renewables. Existing sensor technologies are not adequate to meet the increasing need for monitoring, therefore, new sensor technologies need to be developed.

As the sensor technology matures, technology transfer and deployment become more important, that requires engagement of industry and training for a workforce with of highly skilled, interdisciplinary scientists and engineers who can work between disciplines. 

The UPISW provided a setting to explore the potential impacts of further developing intelligent infrastructure sensing capabilities. These impacts include predictive monitoring before infrastructure failures occur (structural, electrical, etc.), mitigation of green-house gas emissions, enabling large-scale hydrogen transportation, supporting needs for a robust and resilient electricity and natural gas transportation and delivery system, and early detection of environmental contamination.

“The importance of infrastructure sensing cannot be overstated as the country moves to develop more hydrogen-based industries and decarbonize its economy and power sector,” Ferguson said.

Key NETL and FECM staff delivered key addresses and presentations and moderated panels during the event. These included Physical Scientist Evan Frye, Ph.D., from FECM; Ruishu Wright, Ph.D., NETL research scientist and advanced sensors technical portfolio lead; NETL Executive Director for Research and Innovation Bryan Morreale, Ph.D.; and NETL Senior Fellow in Energy Conversion Engineering Nate Weiland, Ph.D.

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.