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Available Technologies

Title Date Posted Patent Information Sort descending 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.

Computational and Simulation-Based Tools for Drilling Optimization U.S. Patent Pending

Research is active on the patent pending technology titled, “MSE-Based Drilling Optimization Using Neural Network Simulation.” This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Rotational Mechanical Gas Separator U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes a technology for separating liquid and solid phase substances from a gas stream. 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 removal and sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) from gas streams has been extensively researched, and many methods of separating CO2 have been proposed. These include adsorption monoliths, membrane absorption and cryogenic distillation, but such methods require special materials and/or high maintenance. Other state-of-the-art removal techniques, such as centrifugal stratification, compress CO2 into a liquid or solid phase, then remove it from the gas stream. But during removal, the liquid/solid phases travel through flow fields and their viscous heating effects. This causes the liquid/solid phases to re-vaporize, stymieing separation efforts.

Metal-organic Framework Films for Gas Sensor Applications U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes a system and method for rapid, ambient-temperature growth of metal-organic framework (MOF) films for gas sensor applications. More specifically, the invention relates to growth of MOF films on advanced sensor devices such as distributed optical fiber and passive wireless like surface acoustic wave-based sensors. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

MOF thin films have emerged as particularly attractive candidates for gas sensing applications due to their tunable porosity and pore size, enabling them to be rationally designed to selectively absorb specific gasses of interest. MOFs are especially appealing due to their high selectivity and capacity for energy-relevant gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane. A critical step towards the development of MOF thin film devices is the ability to efficiently and reliably incorporate high-quality MOF layers onto a wide range of substrates like optical fibers. However, current techniques are often inconvenient due to long reaction times, heating requirements, equipment costs and/or poor control over crystal coverage and morphology.

Microwave Diagnostics and Passive Sensors for Pipeline, Well-Bore, and Boiler-Tube Monitoring U.S. Patent Pending

The invention is a system and method for monitoring the interior of metallic tubular structures like pipelines, well-bores, and boiler-tubes using an integrated wireless system. The technology uses a combination of the pipe or tubular structure as a wave guide, integrated radio frequency (RF) patch antennas, integrated passive surface acoustic wave (SAW) sensors, and data analytic methodologies. The technology is available for licensing from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Safety and longevity are major concerns in fossil fuel industries and other technologies that use long metallic tubular structures like gas pipelines, well-bores, and boilers. Real time monitoring of the tubular structures for multiple variables within them, including but not limited to corrosion, leaks, and mass flow, is crucial to ensure safety and cost-effective maintenance in timely manner. Conventional techniques for investigating the state-of-health and operational conditions of tubular structures use non-destructive acoustic-based techniques, which are limited by the ability to interpret the data because, as an indirect measurement, requires models to be made of the infrastructure under investigation.

Metal-Loaded Basic Immobilized Amine Sorbents for the Removal of Metal Contaminants from Wastewater U.S. Patent Pending

NETL’s basic immobilized amine sorbents (BIAS) have previously been shown effective at removing heavy metals and radioactive ions from aqueous sources. Chelating the amines with metals such as iron or copper significantly increases the heavy metal capture affinity of the sorbents, up to 50% over the non-metal chelated amines. In this invention, the metal-chelated polyamine is chemically tethered to a solid silica support (SiO2) via a crosslinker. The sorbents resist leaching by H2O in an aqueous stream containing heavy oxyanion-based (and other) metals and demonstrate stability over a pH range of 5 - 14. Cationic heavy metals are captured by the amine functional groups (-NH2, -NH, -N) from the polymeric network while oxyanionic metal species bind readily to the metal loaded sites. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Heavy metals are common in industrial wastewater streams such as those associated with flue gas desulfurization (FGD), acid mine drainage, hydraulic fracturing, and nuclear fission. As heavy metals pose health and environmental hazards, there is a critical need to remediate them, i.e., safely and efficiently remove them from the aqueous sources. The US Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) gave the US Environmental Protection Agency the authority to establish and enforce regulatory policies and toxicity limits arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), selenium (Se), and other metals. Many of these metals present a distinct challenge for capture because they are most commonly present in the polyatomic oxy-anion form. Sources for most of these contaminant metals result from the treatment of fossil fuel-derived, post-combustion flue gas with aqueous-based technologies. The well-known and widespread contamination of RCRA metals in drinking water and other terrestrial water sources either through natural processes or resulting from human activity, demands remediation.

Multi-Functionalized Basic Immobilized Amine Sorbents for Removal of Metal Contaminants from Wastewater U.S. Patent Pending

The invention is a new type of amine‐based sorbent material that has increased affinity towards heavy metal capture, from a variety of sources that exceeds the existing amine‐sorbent ability by greater than 50%. This invention involves use of a polyamine that is chemically tethered to the surface of a solid silica support through use of a crosslinker and further stabilized through hydrogen bonding with a linker/cross linker. These sorbents can be used for the capture of heavy metals from a variety of aqueous sources. 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 US Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) gave the US Environmental Protection Agency the authority to establish and enforce regulatory policies and toxicity limits regarding Arsenic (As), Cadmium (Cd), Chromium (Cr), Lead (Pb), Mercury (Hg), Selenium (Se), and other metals. Many of these metals present a distinct challenge for capture because they are most commonly present in the polyatomic oxy‐anion form. Sources for most of these contaminant metals include flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater streams. These streams result from the treatment of fossil fuel‐derived, post combustion flue gas with aqueous‐based technologies. The well‐known and widespread contamination of metals in drinking water and other terrestrial water sources through natural processes or human activity, demands remediation. In addition, radioactive pollutants in aqueous form have raised concerns about exposure levels in the nearby communities because of fears that these fission products could make their way into the food chain.
 

Low-Cost Optical Sensor Array to Monitor Temperature and Dissolved Gases in Electrical Assets U.S. Patent Pending

The invention is a new low-cost way to form an optical sensor array that monitors multiple parameters such as temperature and hydrogen in essential components of electrical transmission and distribution networks. It uses multi-wavelength interrogation combined with multiple sensor elements using a single optical fiber. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Power transformers are among the most essential components of electrical transmission and distribution networks. To avoid the substantial financial and social expenses caused by catastrophic failures, there is a growing need to develop low-cost and real-time analytical techniques and instruments to detect and diagnose fundamental changes in the operating characteristics of transformers. Key parameters, such as dissolved gases content and temperature, provide valuable information for assessing the condition of transformers. For example, dissolved gas analysis (DGA) identifies electrical or thermal faults in transformers. In addition, temperature information is vital because when the temperature in transformers exceeds 90o C, the aging rate of insulation and tensile strength grows, resulting in a dramatic deterioration of transformer life expectancy. It is therefore of significant value to monitor the temperature under various ambient and loading conditions to identify failures before they result in significant damages. 

Energy Infrastructure Monitoring using Conformal Coaxial Helical Antennas and Distributed Electromagnetic Interrogation Schemes U.S. Patent Pending

The invention is a distributed radio frequency (RF) /electromagnetic (EM) interrogation scheme that leverages distributed antennas along a coaxial cable for subsurface, pipeline, and other energy infrastructure monitoring. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge: 
In industrial and wireless sensing, the communication channel often determines the characteristics and performance of the overall sensing network. For wellbore monitoring applications, telemetry challenges are acute because of harsh environmental conditions (elevated temperature and pressure, chemical corrosives) which restrict the application of complex electronics and instrumentation. In addition, inherent absorption of electromagnetic radiation within the subsurface environment limits the potential for free space wireless power and signal delivery over distances. However, distributed wireless sensors throughout the subsurface environment could provide unprecedent visibility for monitoring and minimizing environmental impacts associated with the wellbore and ensure safe and productive operation of oil and gas recovery processes, enhanced geothermal systems and carbon storage sites.  Similar needs exist for monitoring of natural gas pipelines and other energy infrastructure for which enhanced visibility can significantly impact reliability, resiliency, and security. 
 

Encapsulation Method for More Durable Reactive Materials U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes a method of encapsulating reactive materials (i.e., catalyst, sorbent or oxygen carrier) within a porous, unreactive, strong outer layer to increase attrition resistance while retaining sufficient reactivity. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Processes that involve fluidized bed or transport reactors require pellets with high attrition resistance because the pellets move continuously in the reactor during operation. Loss of pellets due to attrition contributes to high replacement costs and operational difficulties. Most processes that involve catalyst, sorbents and oxygen carriers operate in fluidized beds or circulating fluidized beds and require high attrition resistance for long-term operations. In addition, loss of reactive materials with low melting points, such as CuO, due to agglomeration is an issue. Pellets with high attrition resistance are needed to combat against loss of reactive materials.