Energy System Dynamics
NETL Onsite Research
As the lead field center for the DOE Office of Fossil Energy’s research and development program, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has established a strong onsite research program conducted by Federal scientists and engineers who work closely with employees of contractor organizations and researchers from universities.
Onsite R&D—managed by NETL’s Office of Research and Development (ORD)—makes important contributions to NETL’s mission of implementing a research, development, and demonstration program to resolve the environmental, supply, and reliability constraints of producing and using fossil resources.
As an applied R&D laboratory, researchers in NETL’s ORD pursue knowledge, science, and technology with broad societal and industrial interest. The onsite R&D efforts utilize state-of-the-art capabilities and facilities in Morgantown, West Virginia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Albany, Oregon.
Energy System Dynamics Focus Area
The Energy System Dynamics Focus Area conceives, analyzes, and develops energy technology that minimizes the environmental impact of fossil fuel use and maximizes reliable use of domestic energy sources and infrastructure, enhancing the country’s energy security. In addition to meeting or exceeding current and proposed environmental regulations, innovative technologies and processes are designed to be cost-effective and energy efficient, meeting both programmatic goals and end-user requirements. Moreover, efforts are designed to facilitate the commercial acceptance and integration of novel energy technologies by developing industry-ready materials, tools and processes.
Focus Area Research
Energy research is performed by a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers, in areas including, but not limited to fuels and fuel processing, fuel cells, turbines, gasification, combustion, carbon dioxide capture for pulverized coal and for integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) systems, and sensor/control methods for all these energy systems. An integrated approach combining theory, computational modeling, laboratory experiments and industrial input is employed. Testing can be done at lab or pilot scale, and under simulated or realistic operating conditions. In addition to using its own facilities for technology evaluation, NETL has access to those of its university and industrial partners. This allows for technology assessments using actual power plant platforms.
Fuels and Fuel Processing – Developing separation technologies for the production of clean hydrogen to fuel, innovative combustion turbines and fuel cells. Emphasis is on low-cost, degradation-resistant membranes, tailored for the severe environments associated with syngas conversion, with a goal of developing a robust, efficient hydrogen separation module for advanced combustion applications.
Fuel Cells – Improving existing solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology and innovating advanced SOFC concepts. Studies focus on the degradation processes experienced by SOFC components to design better materials and structures for enhancing the longevity of fuel cells. Development of a commercial-scale fuel reforming catalyst suitable for industry is a research priority.
Turbines – Synergistic and systematic research combining aerothermal heat transfer, secondary flow control and thermal barrier coating materials efforts are aimed at high-efficiency, near zero emission turbine power meeting the thermal-mechanical demands of future systems. Studies focus on air foil cooling and employ both scaled models and prototype coupon tests conducted under realistic, high-temperature, pressurized turbine operating conditions.
Gasification – Improving gasifier performance by examining parameters such as liner service life and ash fouling. Research efforts are directed towards improving refractory liners compatible with the use of current, new or mixed carbon feedstocks, examining ash deposition as a function of feedstock, gasifier geometry and flow conditions. Using palladium sorbents for high temperature capture of mercury and other trace elements in flue gases is also under investigation.
Combustion – Examining corrosion issues associated with oxy-combustion capture technologies. Selecting and designing more durable and cost effective materials, components and processes for oxy-fuel combustion boilers and steam turbines. Analyzing corrosion as a function of pressure, coal makeup, deposit composition and reactor design.
Carbon Capture – Developing advanced materials and processes to reduce the energy penalty and cost of carbon dioxide (CO2) separation over conventional technologies. A variety of pre- and post-combustion solvents, sorbents, and membranes are under evaluation focusing on performance at temperatures and pressures consistent with gas clean-up technology.
Sensors and Controls – Designing advanced sensory materials, optical sensors, and platforms for high temperature sensors, as well as testing novel control systems to promote enhanced efficiency, environmental performance, and availability of advanced fossil energy systems. Advanced sensor materials research focuses on nanocomposites. Pre-commercial field testing continues on a Raman gas composition sensor for real-time fuel gas composition analysis. NETL’s pressurized combustor, operating at conditions similar to those in commercial gas turbines, serves as a platform to assess high temperature sensors.
NETL welcomes opportunities to collaborate with academia and industry to develop and commercialize energy technologies. Partnership opportunities exist at all levels of technology/research and include Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) and licenses. A significant need exists for partnerships revolving around scale-up, production, and industrial applications.