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NETL’s Coal Program, comprised of a world-class team of high-performing leaders, scientists, and engineers, houses the necessary engineering and scientific expertise to manage external R&D projects that further the DOE Fossil Energy Coal Program’s goals. Research in this area supports both existing and future power plants; the safe capture, use, and storage of carbon; high-value products from coal; and the stewardship of water used in energy production.

NETL’s Coal Program

Achieving the Full Economic and Security Benefits of our Nation’s Coal Resources

  • Effective Resource Development: Realizing the full economic value of our domestic coal resources by identifying novel applications for coal and coal by-products as feedstocks, high-value products, rare earth elements, and critical materials.

  • Efficient Energy Conversion: Revolutionizing fossil energy power generation with more efficient and robust power system technologies; advanced high-temperature materials; real-time monitoring; and comprehensive modeling, simulation, and analysis tools.

  • Environmental Sustainability: Safeguarding the environment with technologies that optimize carbon capture, utilization, and storage and reduce water used in energy production.

coal introduction


Coal Technology Thrusts

Advanced Energy Systems

Advanced Energy Systems

Developing and deploying more advanced, efficient, and robust coal-based power technologies to optimize the use of our abundant domestic fossil energy resources and leverage existing infrastructure.

Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage

Carbon Capture

Advancing technologies and techniques to effectively capture CO2 derived from power generation and other industrial processes.

  • Pre- and Post-Combustion Capture Systems 
  • Solvents, Sorbents, and Membranes


Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage

Carbon Storage

Developing the tools, techniques, and innovations needed to enable safe, permanent CO2 storage and to pioneer its use and reuse for industry.

  • Long-Term Storage Monitoring, Verification, Accounting, and Assessment 
  • Storage Infrastructure Demonstration
  • Carbon Utilization



Crosscutting Research

Accelerating science and engineering-based solutions across multiple operational platforms to optimize plant performance, reduce O&M costs and water consumption, and develop the next-generation of structural and functional materials.


STEP (Supercritical CO2)

Developing and modeling sCO2 power cycles with the potential to achieve efficiencies greater than 50%, and broad applicability to fossil, nuclear, waste-heat, and concentrated solar energy.

  • High-Efficiency Power Cycle
  • Reduced Water Consumption and Air Emissions
  • Reduced Power Cycle Footprint

NETL Coal RandD

Rare Earth Elements (REEs) & Critical Materials (CMs)

Developing novel extraction, processing, and manufacturing technologies to produce a cost-competitive domestic supply of rare earth elements from U.S. coal and coal by-products to sustain our Nation’s robust economy.

  • Efficient REE and CM Recovery, Extraction, and Separation 
  • Cost-Competitive Domestic Supply of REEs and CMs 


Evolving Topics in Coal

NETL’s Coal Program focuses on furthering research that addresses the challenges and opportunities facing the energy industry by advancing the technological solutions to make energy production more efficient, economical, and environmentally benign.

  American Energy Resiliency, Reliability, Security, & Independence  

Existing Coal Plants


Topics in Coal 1

Improving the performance, reliability, and efficiency of the existing coal-fired fleet

Developing and Deploying
Coal Plants of the Future


Topics in Coal 2

Advancing small-scale, modular coal plants that are highly efficient, flexible, and near-zero emissions

Pioneering High-Value
Products from Coal


Topics in Coal

Enhancing the value of coal as a feedstock by improving rare earth element separation and recovery technologies and manufacturing valuable products from coal

Reducing the Cost of CO2
Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS)

Topics in Coal 4

Reducing the cost and risk of CCUS to enable wider commercial deployment

Reducing Water Use
in Energy Production


Topics in Coal 5

Addressing water quality, sustainability, and availability for power generation

Expanding the Use of
Big Data by Leveraging Artificial Intelligence

Topics in Coal 6

Optimizing coal plant performance and CO2 sequestration with real-time analysis informed by machine learning

Project Information

NETL implements this effort as part of DOE’s Clean Coal and Carbon Management Program.

Heather Quedenfeld
Associate Director, Coal
Technology Development & Innovation Center