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Thermal Science Advances Lead to Efficient, Reliable Energy
The Dynamic Gas Turbine Combustion Test Rig in NETL's High-Pressure Combustion Facility

Director’s Corner

by Brian Anderson, Ph.D.

NETL’s work to develop technology solutions to the nation’s energy challenges requires experts across many disciplines and investigations into processes and concepts that can make energy production more efficient and with reduced emissions. Thermal science is a cornerstone of energy research that deals with heat, work and temperature and how these properties relate to important energy topics like combustion, engines cycles, heat exchanges and airfoils on turbine blades. 

NETL research in thermal science is looking at advanced combustion technologies, such as chemical looping combustion, oxycombustion and pressure gain combustion that can enable generation of efficient, cost-effective electricity with near-zero atmospheric emissions. 

We’re joining with other agencies to advance research efforts regarding rotating detonation engines (RDEs), which have the potential to address the drawbacks of conventional internal combustion engines such as fuel inefficiencies and lower power output. 

At the same time, we’re investigating diagnostic techniques that are providing accurate, real-world data to validate models of next-generation fossil fuel and hydrogen technologies, such as direct power extraction systems and RDEs, and accelerate development and transition these technologies to the commercial sector. As the models become more refined, these technologies can be efficiently designed and deployed to realize significant performance benefits, which will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide reliable, affordable energy to the nation. 

And, we’re putting these concepts into practical applications like advanced turbine airfoils, developed by NETL that may provide hospitals, universities and other institutions with the opportunity to produce their own electricity as well as the energy to heat and cool their building through combined heat and power systems. 

Throughout the month of August, NETL is featuring some of its advances and breakthroughs in thermal sciences. Check out our newsroom to learn more about this important and fascinating area of research.