Frank Shaffer

Frank Shaffer began his NETL career as a researcher in 1986.   After working eleven years in that capacity, he served as both Project Manager and Policy Analyst at the lab. He returned to research in NETL’s Research & Innovation Center in 2007. During his tenure with ORD, Shaffer focused on the study of multiphase flows—flows with mixtures of different phases. His work has helped improve the efficiency and performance of advanced fossil fuel energy processes and reduce the effect of energy production on the environment. Researchers can see and measure particle motion in great detail using Shaffer’s patented high-speed particle imaging system, leading to better design and performance of a variety of industrial systems. Shaffer used this tool to provide the first accurate observations and measurements of particle flow behavior deep inside the harsh, opaque flows that are used to remove CO2 during fossil fueled energy production.

In the 1990s, Shaffer’s imaging system was applied to solve blood clotting problems in artificial hearts during clinical trials at Pittsburgh’s Presbyterian Hospital.  This work netted NETL its first R&D 100 Award in 1992. In that same year, Shaffer also received an award for “Excellence in Technology Transfer” from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for his work with Presbyterian Hospital.  Shaffer also helped generate the first accurate government estimate of the oil leak rate from the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. As one of 12 invited members of an elite team of engineers and scientists, Shaffer used video of the oil leaks to make the estimate, which aided response efforts and helped design the final well capping system. For Shaffer’s work with the team, the Director of the U.S. Geological Service presented him with an award for “Exemplary Service to the Nation.”