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Title Date Posted Sort ascending Patent Information Opportunity
A Cost-Effective Process for Making Graphene from Domestic Coal for use in Commercial Products U.S. Patent Pending

The invention is a new cost-effective way to make high-quality graphene from domestic coal feedstocks.  This graphene can be used to make a wide range of consumer products such as structural composites, water purification sorbents, stain- and water- resistant textiles, battery materials, and specialty pigments for paints and coatings.  Graphene is an outstanding material made from honeycomb sheets of carbon just one atom thick. Graphene is one of the lightest, strongest, and thinnest materials ever discovered. It has a high surface area, high thermal conductivity, strong chemical durability and high electron mobility making it ideal for use in products requiring mechanical strength, corrosion resistance and thermal/electrical conductivity. This inventive new process also co-produces rare earth elements (REEs) and distilled crude oil liquid, which have their own markets. The co-production of three high value products makes this invention an opportunity to maximize the profitability of a coal-based manufacturing process.

Challenge

Despite their amazing properties, carbon nanomaterials have not been widely commercialized primarily because of their high costs and limited supplies.  Currently, graphene costs approximately $20,000,000 per metric ton and global production capacity is less than 2000 tons/year. The high cost and low supply of graphene are major factors limiting its use in new and innovative consumer products.  These issues are driven, in part, by the expensive carbon feedstocks and complicated manufacturing processes currently used to make graphene.  The invention overcomes these challenges by utilizing inexpensive & plentiful domestic coal in a simple one-reactor process.  This approach brings the total manufacturing costs in line with other specialty materials, such as carbon fiber and carbon black, making the use of graphene in consumer products commercially viable.

Novel Sorbents for Radioactive Contaminant Removal From Wastewater U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes a technology that can capture radioactive contaminants from wastewater. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Radioactive isotopes in liquid nuclear wastes are difficult to remove through conventional methods. Solvent extraction and ion exchange have proved successful for removal, but most of these materials display low selectivity and require the use of environmentally unsafe solvents.  

Producing Carbon and Hydrogen With NETL’s Novel Iron-based Catalyst U.S. Patent Pending

This new Iron-based catalyst will enable a one-step process to produce hydrogen - a promising energy source that is also environmentally benign - by directly converting methane. The catalyst will eliminate the need to first create syngas and then remove carbon dioxide. In addition to creating hydrogen, carbon, which is also a useful commodity is created as a by-product. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge
The traditional commercial methods of forming hydrogen from methane are based on steam methane reforming, coal or bio-mass gasification, electrolysis, and thermos-chemical processes. Some of these methods are cost-effective, but each requires that syngas first be created and the water gas shift reaction be used to convert syngas to hydrogen and carbon dioxide. From there, the hydrogen must be purified using pressure swing adsorption to separate the hydrogen for the carbon dioxide. Developing a method that avoids these intermediate steps would reduce the cost of producing valuable hydrogen.

Converting Natural Gas to Valuable Chemicals with Microwave Technology U.S. Patent Pending

This novel patent-pending methane conversion technology employees microwave-assisted catalysis for chemical conversion. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Natural gas, primarily composed of methane, is a cheap and abundant domestic resource that can be converted to a wide range of products including liquid transportation fuels and a wide range of chemical intermediates. However, traditional methods of converting methane to valuable chemicals first require it to be converted to synthesis gas.

A direct, one-step, method to convert the methane would have significant advantages over current indirect methods, including reduced costs and increased yields, but several technology barriers must first be overcome. Microwave-assisted catalyst reactions can provide a viable direct method for overcoming these barriers.

High-Performance Corrosion-Resistant High-Entropy Alloys U.S. Patent Pending

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) developed designs, manufacturing processes, and corrosion property validations of new high-performance corrosion-resistant high-entropy alloys that are superior to and less expensive than existing alloys and demonstrate improved resistance to corrosion, including pitting corrosion in harsh environments and sea water.

Challenge
Metals and alloys used in sea water or acidic aqueous environments are prone to various forms of corrosion, including pitting and/or crevice corrosion because of the presence of aggressive salt, such sodium chloride (NaCl). Pitting and crevice corrosion can serve as initiation sites for developing cracks that will lead to catastrophic failures of the metallic components. The current solution to this problem is to coat the metals with nickel (Ni)-based superalloys such as Hastelloy® C276. Hastelloy®, which is very expensive.

Corrosion Detection Sensors for Use in Natural Gas Pipelines U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes a system and method for detecting corrosion in natural gas pipelines using an optical platform or a wireless platform. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that natural gas accounts for nearly 30 percent of energy consumption in the United States. More than 300,000 miles of natural gas transmission and gathering lines deliver this valuable energy source to consumers. Like any energy infrastructure, this network of pipelines requires significant maintenance costs. In the case of natural gas pipelines, corrosion accounts for around 25 percent of incidents over the last 30 years, 61 percent of which was caused by internal corrosion.

The corrosion-related annual cost for such incidents amounts to $6 to $10 billion in the United States each year. Therefore, a need exists to monitor corrosion inside of the gas pipelines to implement corrosion mitigation and control before any failure.

Regenerable Non-Aqueous Basic Immobilized Amine Slurries for Removal of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) from a Gaseous Mixture U.S. Patent Pending

The innovation represents a BIAS particle sorbent suspended in a non-aqueous fluid carrier (slurry) that is capable of CO2 sorption, is easy to incorporate into established power plants, and can minimize energy and infrastructure requirements.

Challenge

Carbon sequestration can reduce the emissions of CO2 from large point sources and holds potential to provide deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Amine-based solid sorbents are effective and economical agents for CO2 capture from gaseous mixtures. However, because of the high concentration of CO2 in many feed streams, a large quantity of the gas often reacts with the sorbent exothermically to produce excessive heat, which must be removed from the sorbent to prevent temperature instability within the reactor and to eliminate potential degradation of the sorbent. Reducing the damage to sorbents with this technology and method can increase efficiency and reduce replacement costs faced by 

Efficient Process for Converting Methane to Syngas U.S. Patent Pending

Research is active on a method to convert methane into synthesis gas using mixed metal oxides. The resulting syngas could be used to manufacture more valuable chemicals. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Natural gas (NG), which is composed primarily of methane, is one of the most abundant, low-cost carbon-containing feedstocks available. The economically available route to produce valuable chemicals from methane is via synthesis gas followed by different chemical routes to manufacture the desired chemicals. In a large-scale industrial plant, the production of syngas accounts for a large part of the total costs. Therefore, it is important to develop more efficient and cost-effective methods for the conversion of methane to syngas.

Optical Sensing Materials Comprising Metal Oxide Nanowires U.S. Patent Pending

The invention consists of the application of metal oxide nanowire-based sensor layers to optical sensing platforms such as optical fiber-based sensor devices. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Thin film and thick film metal oxide based materials are typically employed as the active layer in harsh environment chemical sensing. However, these sensing layers do not have sufficient sensitivity and chemical selectivity in many applications because of their microstructure and the lack of a sufficiently large surface area.

Producing Hydrogen from Coal Via Catalytic/Chemical Looping Processes U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes a novel catalytic method combined with a chemical looping process to produce a hydrogen (H2)-rich synthesis gas (syngas) stream free of the nitrogen from coal. The catalytic process uses reduced metal oxide/coal/steam to produce a H2-rich syngas stream that is free of nitrogen (N2) from coal while the chemical looping combustion (CLC) of fuel with the metal oxide is used for production of the heat required for the catalytic process. CLC processes also produce a concentrated stream of carbon dioxide (CO2) that is ready for sequestration. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Traditional coal gasification requires an expensive air separation unit to produce N2-free syngas. However, NETL’s novel catalytic process using reduced metal oxide/coal/steam does not require an air separation unit for production of nitrogen free syngas stream. Heat is traditionally produced via fuel combustion, which generates a CO2 stream mixed with N2. This stream requires expensive separation technologies for CO2 sequestration. The novel catalytic process uses the heat from CLC of fuel, which generates a sequestration ready CO2 stream. Integration of the processes, addressing contaminant issues and scaling up the technology for commercialization are necessary.