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Power Plant
After 17 years of research involving NETL, industry partners, and a high-tech research group known as the AUSC Consortium, significant progress is being made toward scaling up the fabrication of components made from advanced nickel superalloys that will help bring advanced ultrasupercritical (AUSC) power plant technology to the level of readiness for commercial-scale demonstration. In the 1950s, coal-fired power plants operated at a then cutting-edge steam pressure of 2,400 psi and main steam temperatures of up to 538 degrees Celsius (C). They were known as “subcritical.” Increasing the pressure and temperature of a power plant can increase power plant efficiency, and by the end of the 20th century, new coal-fired power plants were designed for “supercritical” steam conditions where steam conditions and power plant efficiency were as high as 610 degrees C, 4300 psia and 41 percent. Further, increases in power plant efficiency continue to be sought to reduce the cost of power generation and carbon capture. A new generation of AUSC power plants is viewed as a promising way to attain those goals.
NETL experts used a suite of sophisticated data-gathering instruments at the Marcellus Shale Energy Environmental Laboratory (MSEEL) near Morgantown, West Virginia, to secure a greater understanding of emissions and dispersion rates of various compounds — geological and environmental systems research that could help avoid future adverse impacts on local and regional air quality where unconventional oil and gas activities are underway. By providing a complete understanding of the impacts of oil and gas development on regional air quality, the Laboratory can help ensure that development proceeds at a rate that protects the environment while ensuring an adequate domestic supply of oil and gas. Recent technological advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have made recovery of large quantities of natural gas in shale formations economically feasible. Production from shale gas and associated gas from tight oil plays in the United States is the largest contributor to natural gas production growth and is projected to account for nearly 40 percent of U.S. energy production by 2040.
FOA Logo
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)  and NETL have announced up to $30 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) for front-end engineering design (FEED) studies for carbon dioxide (CO2) capture systems. The projects, funded by the Office of Fossil Energy’s Carbon Capture program will support FEED studies for CO2 systems on both coal and natural gas power plants.  “With the Department’s ongoing investment in advanced carbon capture technologies, we will ensure that we can continue using our abundant domestic resources to power the Nation in a way that’s environmentally sound,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “Carbon capture plays an integral role in reducing emissions and safeguarding the environment, while simultaneously protecting our energy security.”
Carnegie Science Awards
Two of NETL’s innovative technological achievements have been selected to receive prestigious awards from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Science Center. NETL’s global oil and gas infrastructure (GOGI) database won in the Innovation in Energy category, while the Lab’s permeability engineering through strain annealing technology won in the Advanced Manufacturing and Materials category. The honorees were announced at a VIP reception March 12, and the awards will be presented at a May 10 celebration.
NETL Director Brian Anderson joined a prestigious panel this week at CERAWeek, the world’s premier energy event, in Houston, Texas. Anderson spoke alongside three other national laboratory leaders at the five-day conference, which brought together 4,000 global industry leaders and policymakers from more than 75 countries to discuss a range of energy-related topics. The panel, called “Voices of Innovation: How innovative technologies emerge from DOE’s research — A dialogue with National Laboratory directors,” was hosted by DOE Under Secretary for Science Paul M. Dabbar, who serves as the principal advisor to the Department on fundamental energy research, energy technologies and science.   The panel, which also featured Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thomas Zacharia and Brookhaven National Laboratory Director Doon Gibbs, was held under CERAWeek’s Innovation Agora agenda focused on the intersection of energy, technology and the innovative disruption transforming the industry. Anderson said the conference represented a unique opportunity for industry, government and society to exchange ideas, network and address the future of energy.
2D concentration maps of carbon and hydrogen determined for each of the Marcellus shale samples retrieved from various depths.
A recent NETL study demonstrated that laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) technology can provide a cost-effective, rapid and precise method for determining the elemental composition of organic-rich shales like the Marcellus Shale formation, the largest reservoir of natural gas in the Appalachian basin. This characterization work is paving the way for producers to begin rapidly targeting resources with greater accuracy. LIBS is a versatile and rapidly advancing analytical technique that can detect concentrations of all known elements and requires minimal sample preparation. The technology works by creating a high-intensity pulse of light that is focused on a sample. This produces a spark of light in all directions, made up of atomic emissions from the different elements found in the sample. This light is then analyzed by a spectrometer for elemental composition.
Regional Workforce Initiative
The National Energy Technology Laboratory’s (NETL) Regional Workforce Initiative will present a free Energy 101 Webinar at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 28. The on-line event is designed to inform participants about evolving technology solutions related to rare earth elements (REEs) and advanced composites/materials and manufacturing and their potential economic development impact on the Appalachian Region. The webinar is free, but registration is required. Interested persons can register for the webinar here.
Photos courtesy of Brookhaven National Laboratory. NETL researchers studying the chemical conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) into useful products are using powerful X-rays available at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facilities to shed light on the process. A team of NETL research staffers — including Douglas Kauffman, Thuy-Duong Nguyen-Phan, Christopher Marin and Congjun Wang — was recently awarded highly competitive, proposal-based experiment time at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s (BNL) National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS II) X-ray facility in Upton, New York. With help from BNL Staff Scientist Eli Stavitski, the team conducted advanced X-ray characterization techniques Feb. 18-19 to study materials that chemically convert CO2 into value-added products.
National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) researchers developed a new catalyst that can selectively convert syngas into light hydrocarbon compounds called olefins for application in a $200 billion per year chemical industry market. The work has been detailed in ChemCatChem, a premier catalysis journal. The catalyst was characterized using a variety of techniques from U.S. Department of Energy user facilities at Brookhaven National Laboratory including advanced electron microscopy at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials and synchrotron-based X-ray spectroscopy conducted at the National Synchrotron Light Source II. An olefin is a compound made up of hydrogen and carbon that contains one or more pairs of carbon atoms linked by a double bond. Because of their high reactivity and low cost, olefins are widely used as building blocks in the manufacture of plastics and the preparation of certain types of synthetic rubber, chemical fibers, and other commercially valuable products.
North Allegheny Senior High School Team 1 (Wexford), and Marshall Middle School (Wexford) claimed victory at the 28th annual Western Pennsylvania Regional Science Bowl (WPASB), organized and co-sponsored by NETL. The high school and middle school events were held Feb. 23 and March 2, 2019, respectively, at the Community College of Allegheny County’s (CCAC) South Campus, in West Mifflin, Pa. About 40 teams from high schools and 32 teams from middle schools in 19 regional counties throughout western Pennsylvania participated in the competition. The WPASB tested students’ knowledge of math and science with round-robin and double-elimination competition rounds. This year’s WPASB competition included welcoming remarks from NETL Director Brian Anderson for the high school competition and NETL Deputy Director Randy Gentry for the middle school competition, as well as representatives from CCAC.