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This image shows a modular container unit with Polaris membrane stacks. The CEMEX project will have multiple containers.  Credit: Image provided by Membrane Technology & Research Inc.
The image above shows a modular container unit with Polaris membrane stacks. The CEMEX project will have multiple containers. Credit: Image provided by Membrane Technology & Research Inc.   NETL’s industry partners are evaluating the use of a transformational membrane technology to capture greenhouse gas produced during the manufacturing of cement and lower the environmental footprint for this important building and construction material. “The project being developed with our industrial partners at the CEMEX Balcones facility in New Braunfels, Texas, is generating an initial engineering design and constructability review to determine if the application of an advanced industrial membrane capture technology at a cement plant is feasible,” said NETL’s Carl Laird, federal project manager.
Phil Reppert training at RAX Run Eventing in Northern Virginia with Gory, a Hanoverian horse.
Above: Phil Reppert training at RAX Run Eventing in Northern Virginia with Glory’s Gold, a Hanoverian horse. In addition to his work as NETL’s Associate Director for Geological and Environmental Systems, Philip Reppert, Ph.D., has demonstrated a profound talent for horsemanship and storytelling, recently combining these two passions into writing projects, including a family-friendly novel with a message of hope during the holiday season.  Growing up in Shillington, Pennsylvania, Reppert comes from a family where medical and STEM careers were predominant, which inspired him to pursue a career in science. He earned his bachelor of science degree in engineering from Penn State University, and after working in industry for several years, he went back to school and eventually earned a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Reppert started working for the federal government at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Reppert later moved back to Pennsylvania to be closer to family, which took him to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency where he worked for seven years before joining NETL.
SSAE Newsletter
The January 2022 edition of the SSAE Newsletter provides updates about recent research initiatives undertaken within NETL’s Strategic Systems Analysis and Engineering (SSAE) directorate. Click here to access this latest edition and learn about activities that SSAE is leading to gain insights into new energy concepts, support the analysis of energy system interactions and advance its capabilities. Highlights in this edition include:
The Energy & Geoscience Institute at the University of Utah, along with the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy and Geothermal Technologies Office
The Energy & Geoscience Institute (EGI) at the University of Utah and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) have partnered with NETL to explore enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) via the Utah FORGE project. Once optimized and developed, electricity from EGS could power tens of millions of American homes and businesses. Geothermal resources occur where water circulates through a network of interconnected fractures, or pathways, within naturally hot rocks found deep below the planet’s surface. Operators can then produce power from the hot water once it is brought to the surface by deep underground wells. However, not all of these resources are conducive for power generation. Some don’t contain enough water to extract the heat, while others contain too few pathways to circulate the water. In an effort to solve the latter challenge, operators can inject fluid into the hot rocks, create pathways, and extract the heat resource from a new, manmade geothermal reservoir. 
NETL researchers saw success in using microwaves to unearth the potential of various materials, which will help contribute to a less carbon-dependent future.
As the nation’s energy sector moves toward an emissions-free future, fuel flexibility and successful integration of renewable resources will be more important than ever in designing the next generation of power plants. NETL research in energy conversion engineering (ECE) is enabling researchers to understand what will comprise the advanced energy systems of tomorrow, pioneering innovation in low-carbon power production to meet the Biden Administration’s goals of a net-zero emissions power sector by 2035 and broader economy by 2050. Throughout 2021, the Lab’s ECE researchers saw success in using microwaves to unearth the potential of several materials of interest. These efforts will continue to benefit the nation’s energy landscape in the new year.
The image above illustrates MICP formation in a wellbore cement defect and leakage pathway. The resulting mineral seal mitigates leakage to aquifers and the atmosphere. Reprinted from the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, Vol 86
The image above illustrates MICP formation in a wellbore cement defect and leakage pathway. The resulting mineral seal mitigates leakage to aquifers and the atmosphere. Reprinted from the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, Vol 86. Bioengineering technology developed by university and industry partners with NETL oversight could become an important tool in the Biden Administration’s plan to seal orphaned oil and gas wells and prevent leakages of methane, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), into the atmosphere and underground water supplies. NETL’s collaboration with the Montana State University Energy Research Institute and Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana Emergent Technologies (MET) and others began in 2014 to develop a novel technology in which microbes initiate a process to help seal problematic defects in wellbore casing cement. After undergoing multiple laboratory and field tests, the technology was licensed as a commercial product. So far, it’s been used by BioSqueeze Inc., formerly MET, to plug more than 40 wells across the U.S.
Secretary's Honor award
A scientist advancing technology to recover rare earth elements, a team incorporating big data capabilities into a platform to accelerate discoveries, and researchers who developed a suite of sorbents to remove contaminants are NETL’s recipients of Secretary’s Honor Awards from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm noted the annual awards recognize outstanding achievements of individuals and teams who have gone above and beyond in fulfilling DOE’s mission and serving the nation. “These awards are among the highest department honors a federal employee or contractor can receive,” said NETL Director Brian Anderson. “The research efforts advanced by NETL’s award recipients are finding solutions to clean our water and air, lower the environmental footprint of energy production and help communities in need of new jobs and industries. These NETL researchers are drivers of meaningful change.” NETL’s winners of this prestigious recognition are:
NETL’s strategic systems analysis and engineering researchers strive to address the challenges of meeting the often-competing energy goals of maximizing profits, minimizing costs and addressing market and policy drivers while also meeting environmental and technical constraints.
The discovery, design and operation of modern energy systems requires systematic decision-making techniques for the often-competing goals of maximizing profits, minimizing costs and addressing market and policy drivers while also meeting environmental and technical constraints. NETL’s strategic systems analysis and engineering (SSAE) researchers strive to address these challenges by developing advanced models that combine a wide variety of research disciplines — tools that are providing critical information to help meet clean energy goals of calling for net-zero carbon emissions in the electricity sector by 2035 and economy-wide net-zero emissions by 2050.  Throughout 2021, SSAE research resulted in several notable accomplishments, including updates to open-source systems that optimize the nation’s power plant operations in pursuit of a clean energy sector, along with several recognitions awarded to members of various research teams for their work. A sampling of the SSAE successes follows.
DOE Logo
Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) announced up to $644,000 in funding for the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources to assess the economic impacts of fossil energy production in Wyoming and evaluate opportunities and research needs to deploy clean hydrogen technologies. The study also will include direct outreach and engagement with local tribal nations and other traditionally marginalized groups to ensure that the study’s findings represent a diverse set of perspectives. This investment aligns with the recently announced Wyoming Energy Strategy to transition to a clean energy economy and the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
RWFI E-Note Monthly Highlights Deadline Extensions for Upcoming Funding and STEM Career Development Opportunities
The December 2021 edition of the RWFI E-Note Monthly, the newsletter of NETL’s Regional Workforce Initiative, details deadline extensions for funding opportunities to establish a network of university-based, regional electric power cybersecurity centers. These centers are intended to address interrelated research and development challenges of cybersecurity and critical energy infrastructure and steps that need to be taken to build workforce expertise. The goal of this initiative is the creation of tools and training for the energy sector. The original deadline to engage with the University Based Cybersecurity Centers Program has been extended to Feb. 4, 2022. This month’s newsletter also highlights funding opportunities from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that focuses on increasing and broadening the participation of underrepresented researchers.