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National Energy Awareness Month

Director’s Corner

by Brian Anderson, Ph.D.

October is National Energy Awareness Month, when we reflect on the role the energy industry has played in our nation’s success. It’s also a time to look forward to continued energy developments that help our economy and the American people.

As an applied laboratory, NETL’s role is to develop technologies and push them into the market. We work with 900 partners, including those in the energy industry, to reach this goal and tackle large-scale humanitarian challenges of affordable energy worldwide with minimal impact to our air and water.

At NETL, our talented team of researchers take great pride in the Lab’s mission to develop technology solutions to enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations. We strive to be the nation’s world-renowned fossil energy science and engineering resource, and we’re well on our way to achieving this goal. 

I’m optimistic about our success because we’re building on a foundation of technology achievements that have changed people’s daily lives. For example, NETL-commercialized technologies mitigated emissions of criteria pollutants and mercury from the air we breathe each day. Thirty years ago, research conducted at NETL and with the participation of its partners, led to development of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — technologies used for shale gas production that, once commercialized, changed the landscape of the energy environment around the world. Thanks to commercial technologies that were made possible by NETL research, the United States is now a net exporter of natural gas and we are becoming energy independent.

We take pride in our past successes, but we are always looking to the future. Here are some of the technologies and innovation NETL is pursuing to enhance our economy and benefit the American people. For example, we are:  

  • Developing high-value products from our nation’s abundant coal resources to enable a new, innovative materials from this low-cost domestic feedstock.
  • Finding unique ways of converting energy by optimizing reactions to create less waste and reduce the energy footprint across the manufacturing space.
  • Improving the performance of materials for harsh environments to enable greater efficiencies of our power generation technologies, enabling greater conservation of our resources with fewer emissions.
  • Gathering data to enable a better understanding of unconventional resources and how to improve recovery rates. For example, along with our project partners, NETL is leading the world in methane hydrate research.
  • Leveraging our capabilities in computational modeling to significantly reduce the time required to move from the laboratory to the commercial market.

NETL’s research begins with the end in mind. The innovations we pursue are those that will have real-world impact by making energy production more efficient and resource development more effective, with responsible stewardship of the environment. I’ve shared just a few examples of NETL technology solutions that underpin our nation’s prosperity and protect our health and environment. There are challenges ahead, but our Lab is demonstrating every day that innovation is a vital path forward.