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Available Technologies

Title Date Posted Sort ascending Patent Information Opportunity
Single-Step Synthesis of Carbon Capture Fiber Sorbents U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes a single-stage preparation of a novel carbon capture fiber sorbent. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge
Conventional pressure- or temperature-swing adsorption (PSA/TSA) processes have been widely considered for post-combustion carbon capture and direct air capture (DAC). However, the processes of pressurizing the flue gas in the case of PSA or the long regeneration time in the case of TSA are considered neither cost-effective nor energy efficient, which limit their use in large-scale carbon capture processes. Furthermore, the high heat released during carbon dioxide (CO2) adsorption onto conventional sorbent amine sites necessitate efficient heat redistribution away from the sorbent bed and back into the overall carbon capture process. Therefore, a low-cost and energy efficient carbon capture process that could be retrofitted onto existing power plants is needed.

Fiber Optic pH Sensor for High-Temperature and High-Pressure Environments U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes a pH sensor comprising an optical fiber coated with metal-oxide based pH sensing materials for use in high-temperature and high-pressure environments such as wellbores and the challenging high pH range relevant for wellbore cement. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge
Various fossil energy and carbon management applications require chemical composition monitoring in subsurface environments. Examples of these areas include deep and ultra-deep oil and gas resource recovery through drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques as well as environmental monitoring in reservoirs for carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration. Accurate measurement of pH in subsurface wellbores is critical for early corrosion detection and wellbore cement failure prediction.
However, these subsurface environments are extremely challenging for the development and deployment of sensing technologies because of harsh conditions such as high temperatures, high pressures, corrosive chemical species, and potentially high salinity. In such harsh environments, most electrical and electronic components used in sensor applications are not feasible. Additionally, real-time monitoring of pH within cement is challenging because the high-pH range (pH ~13) can cause stability issues of commonly used pH sensing materials at high temperatures. Therefore, it is essential to develop approaches that provide stable pH sensing and that could eliminate the use of electrical components and connections at the sensing locations and avoid the common mode of failure in conventional sensors.
 

Catalysts for Thermal Conversion of Carbon Dioxide to Carbon Monoxide or Synthesis Gas Using Fuels U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes novel iron-based catalysts for conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) to produce valuable gases such as carbon monoxide (CO) or syngas in the presence of fuel (biomass, coal, methane) for commercial and industrial applications while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge
Syngas production from solid fuels such as biomass or coal is commercially conducted via a solid fuel gasification process. However, conventional solid fuel gasification processes are generally capital-intensive and require significant amounts of parasitic energy. Typically, the gasification process involves partial coal combustion with either O2 or air. When air is utilized, nitrogen (N2) may enter the syngas, diluting the syngas and making extraction difficult. When oxygen (O2) is utilized, expensive oxygen production units tend to generate high parasitic losses. As a result, the development of alternative methods for syngas production from solid fuels are a significant area of current interest. For oxygen-based commercial solid fuel gasification, oxygen must be separated from air, which requires an air separation unit. Cryogenic air separation has been used and is very expensive. In addition, steam is also required for the process. Gasification of solid fuel with CO2 has many advantages over conventional solid fuel gasification with oxygen/steam. 
Syngas production from methane is currently conducted via catalytic steam methane reforming and the process is energy intense with high carbon footprint. Catalytic methane dry reforming using CO2 to produce syngas has a potential to be more economical route for syngas production.  However, the catalysts used for methane dry reforming are either very expensive or has shown poor performance stability due to catalyst deactivation. Therefore, catalyst development is important for methane dry reforming technology to be commercially viable.
 

Creep Resistant Ni-Based Superalloy Casting and Manufacturing U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes an improved casting and manufacturing method for a creep-resistant nickel-based superalloy for advanced high-temperature applications. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge
In the future, advanced ultra-supercritical (A-USC) and/or supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power plants are expected to raise efficiencies of coal-fired power plants from around 35 to greater than 50%. However, these advanced systems feature components that operate at high pressures and temperatures exceeding 760 degrees Celsius. These conditions cause gradual permanent deformation, known as creep, in components manufactured with currently used alloys like ferritic-martensitic high-strength steels and austenitic stainless steels.
Certain nickel-based super alloys such as Inconel 740H (IN740H) currently meet requirements for use in A-USC in a wrought version, but using the alloy in a cast form would be valuable in terms of the range of component size, geometries and complexities, and cost.
Previous efforts at casting IN740H have resulted in poor creep performance when compared to wrought versions. Furthermore, several compositions within the nominal specified range for IN740H have been investigated but failed to provide a material in the as-cast form that would withstand long-term, high temperature exposure in creep.
 

Bottom-Up Assembly of Graphene Quantum Dots to Form Two-Dimensional Amorphous Carbon Film U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes a uniquely engineered 2-D amorphous carbon film and a memristor fabricated with coal-derived carbon quantum dots as the dielectric (switching) media for resistive random-access memory (RRAM). The atomic dielectric carbon layer can provide large storage density and 3-D packing ability, allowing memory and logic devices to be integrated in one chip, providing faster data processing with low energy consumption. This patent application is jointly owned by NETL and the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (UIUC) and it is available for licensing and/or further collaboration.

Challenge
Memory is essential to future computing with the exponential growth of data. These emerging memory technologies aim to revolutionize the existing memory hierarchy. Various emerging memory technologies are actively being investigated to meet ideal performance characteristics. RRAM has various advantages such as easy fabrication, simple metal-insulator-metal structure, excellent scalability, nanosecond speed, and long data retention. RRAM has been commercialized since 2013. Despite showing great promise over conventional RAM and its popularity in academia, RRAM has not become commercially popular. This is due to high device variability and high operation voltage.

Microwave Active Metal Oxides for CO2 Dry Reforming of Methane U.S. Patent Pending

This patent-pending technology establishes a novel system and method for the microwave-assisted dry reforming of methane. The technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Traditional steam reforming of methane to produce hydrogen (H2), which is then reacted with carbon (CO) to produce methanol and other industrial commodity chemicals, is an extremely energy intensive process with large carbon footprint. For example, the steam reforming reaction produces 10 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) for every ton of H2. Methane dry reforming uses an alternative reaction that uses CO2 as a soft oxidant to produce CO and H2 from methane, which can be further processed into methanol or hydrocarbons. Further, using CO2 to produce commodity chemicals, such as H2 and CO, can generate revenue to offset carbon capture costs, reduce the carbon footprint of fossil-fuel powered processes, and allow sustainable use of fossil fuel resources.

Traditional dry reforming techniques are extremely energy intensive and require very high temperatures (>800C) that make it unpractical economically compared with the lower-temperature, carbon-positive, methane steam reforming. Microwave-assisted catalysis has been demonstrated as an enabling technology to promote high temperature chemical processes. Unlike traditional thermal heating, microwaves can rapidly heat catalysts to extremely high temperatures without heating the entire reactor volume. This reduces heat management issues of conventional reactors and enables rapid heating/cooling cycles. Ultimately, this can allow reactors to utilize excess renewable energy on an intermittent basis (load follow) to promote traditionally challenging, thermally-driven reactions for on-demand chemical production.

Microwave absorption is a function of the electronic and magnetic properties of the material, and a properly designed catalyst may function as a both a microwave heater and a reactive surface for driving the desired reaction. Microwave absorption is extremely sensitive to the catalyst’s chemical state and electronic structure, and effective catalysts must maintain microwave activity across a wide range of temperatures in both oxidative and reductive environments.

 

Downhole Laser System With an Improved Laser Output Production and Data Collection U.S. Patent Pending

This patent-pending technology establishes a novel system and method for laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) applications. The technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Low-cost, efficient monitoring of remote locations has and continues to be highly sought in the industry. For example, drilling production or injection wells for oil/gas extraction or carbon dioxide (CO2) storage always has the potential for leakage into the surrounding formations and environment. The ability to measure the subsurface fluids in and around the injection/production area before and after subsurface activities becomes more important when there is a suspected leak. Current downhole monitoring systems rely on bulk parameters such as pH and conductivity. Lab based systems can provide trace element measurements of subsurface fluids but require fluids to be taken from the field and digested prior to measurement. A system that can provide trace element measurements in real time while deployed in the subsurface is potentially of great value.

Current diode pumped solid state (DPSS) laser systems used for laser induced breakdown spectroscopy applications in fluid system measurements have numerous limitations. First, the systems are susceptible to dimensional changes caused by temperature and pressure swings in fluctuating environments in downhole applications. A second issue is the size of the laser spark that is produced in the fluid for measurements affecting signal strength. The third issue is the efficient collection and transmission of the plasma emission for analysis.

Improved Rare Earth Element Extraction Method from Coal Ash U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes an improved method for extracting rare earth elements (REEs) from coal ash at ambient temperatures. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge
As China currently controls the supply and prices of almost all the world’s REEs, developing a domestic supply is critical for the continued manufacturing of technologies that support nearly all modern devices, including critical systems for energy and national defense. REE extraction efforts from domestic sources of coal and coal-related resources have emerged as a viable solution, but successful methods must be both cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

Current methods and technologies for REE extraction from ore and other sources can be hazardous and expensive to implement without harming the environment or workers. For example, common practices employ high temperatures and strong acids or bases. This technology seeks to overcome these and other issues with current REE extraction methods by turning to a material that is currently viewed as a waste – coal ash.

Polyphosphazene Blends for Gas Separation Membranes U.S. Patent Pending; USPN 7,074,256

These technologies are high-performance CO2 separation membranes made from polyphosphazene polymer blends.  NETL’s technology was originally developed to aid in separating CO2 from flue gas emitted by fossil-fuel power plants. The NETL membrane is cross-linked chemically using low intensity UV irradiation, a facile technique that improves the membrane’s mechanical toughness compared to its uncrosslinked polyphosphazene constituents. Membranes fabricated with this technique have demonstrated permeability of up to 610 barrer, with CO2/N2 selectivity in excess of 30, at a practical separation temperature of 40°C. NETL’s patent-pending technology is being bundled with Idaho National Laboratory’s (INL) patented technology, with NETL handling licensing.  NETL would work with a potential licensee and INL to license the technology. 


Challenge: 
Membrane-based separation is one of the most promising solutions for CO2 removal from post-combustion flue gases produced in power generation. Technoeconomic analyses show that membranes aimed for this application must possess high gas permeability; however, most high permeability materials suffer from poor mechanical properties or unacceptable loss in performance over time due to physical aging. This technology is a successful attempt to turn one of these high-performance materials with poor mechanical properties into one amenable for use in practical separation membranes with virtually no physical aging issues.
 

Improved Pelletized Immobilized Amine Sorbents for CO2 Capture USPN 10,065,174; USPN 10,603,654;

This invention describes basic immobilized amine sorbents (BIAS) with improved pelletization process and formulation for use in CO2 capture processes. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge
BIAS sorbents demonstrate high CO2 capture capacity and thermal stability over multiple steam regeneration cycles and represent a promising approach for CO2 removal from a variety of source points, including coal and natural gas combustion power plants. Bench- and pilot-scale testing have demonstrated the feasibility of commercial-scale BIAS sorbents. However, full commercialization of BIAS sorbents requires pelletization. Commercially available silica typically serves as the support for amine-based particle sorbents, yet these materials are not commercially feasible due to their relatively low mechanical strength and difficult management in dynamic reactor systems. Thus, the development of an economical method of fabricating a strong silica-supported BIAS pellet is a primary concern.