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FOA Announcement logo
NETL announced today up to $4.5 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) projects for fossil power plants. The projects fall under an amendment to funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002001.000001, Crosscutting Research for Coal-Fueled Power Plants. This amended FOA aims to develop advanced dry cooling technologies suitable for fossil power plants. Dry cooling is used to cool and condense steam in a thermoelectric power plant; however, costs and performance, particularly under hot conditions, remain a challenge. DOE will support projects that bring down costs and increase performance of dry cooling so it can be widely used and reduce water demand associated with power generation. While this FOA requires cooling technologies to be applicable to coal power plants, it is anticipated that most will also be applicable to natural gas-fired power plants as well.
NETL’s K-12 STEM Education & Outreach team members facilitated active learning experiences at several elementary schools throughout September and October, fostering the next generation of energy experts through engaging activities involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. Additionally, ambassadors from the Lab’s STEM Ambassador program provided information about careers in energy to spread the Lab’s mission to secure and enhance the nation’s energy foundation while protecting the environment. The Education & Outreach team brings exciting “hands-on, minds-on” programs to students located near NETL’s three sites in Morgantown, West Virginia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Albany, Oregon. The program seeks to stimulate students’ and teachers’ interest in STEM and deliver important STEM content, as well as enhance children’s critical thinking skills and provide options for older students seeking careers in STEM.
AIChE Logo
NETL experts will share their innovative research and development (R&D) work with scientists from around the world next week at the nation’s premier educational forum for chemical engineers. Dozens of NETL personnel will converge in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 10-15 for the American Institute for Chemical Engineers’ (AIChE) 2019 Annual Meeting. Academic and industry experts will address a wide range of topics relevant to cutting-edge research, new technologies and emerging growth areas with more than 7,000 chemical engineers. Work by NETL researchers, scientists and engineers will be featured among the technical programming offered by AIChE’s 22 divisions and forums and during 12 topical conferences targeting key research areas. As the only national laboratory dedicated to fossil fuels, NETL will take center stage during the Advances in Fossil Energy R&D Topical Conference. Fourteen NETL researchers will participate, sharing their work via 16 scheduled presentations. Among others, topics to be addressed by NETL experts include:
Small Business Day
NETL was proud to celebrate National Veterans Small Business Week by hosting the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) West Virginia District Office Veteran Small Business Day Tuesday, Nov. 5. 2019, at its Morgantown, West Virginia, site. The event included contacts, resources and professionals available to give small business owners the tools they need for maneuvering the business world and provide a foundation for doing business with the federal government. Karen Friel, SBA West Virginia district director provided opening remarks at the event. “Government contracts offer a tremendous financial opportunity for veteran-owned small businesses, but it can be difficult to get started,” Friel said. “That is why events like this are so important, by giving you the opportunity to meet those who can help you navigate through the complexities of government contracting and learn about ways to best position your business in the federal marketplace.”
Trans Tech
Key researchers and leadership from the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) are set to present the details of revolutionary energy technologies at the eighth annual TransTech Energy (TTE) Start-Up Development Conference, taking place Oct. 28-30 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Southpointe, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. TTE was created to provide an opportunity for innovators and entrepreneurs from throughout the Mid-Atlantic states to pitch ideas, products, projects, apps and discoveries to venture and angel investors, potential strategic partners, project and economic developers, potential customers and the public. The conference is organized by West Virginia University and supported by Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University and the University of Pittsburgh, along with local sponsors. (WVU will issue a media advisory with details for regional media outlets interested in covering the conference.) NETL has been a frequent participant in TTE conferences, where information about the Lab’s energy technology innovations are presented as “pitches” for funding opportunities.
Viscosity Equations
A team of researchers from NETL and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) recently developed equations to more simply determine how the viscosity of foamed cement is affected by the addition of bubbles into the slurry. Understanding the connection between an increase of bubbles concentration and the ensuing changes in viscosity is crucial for predicting how well the foamed cement will perform in wellbores, which will enable safer oil and gas production. The work was recently featured in a special issue of  Fluids, an international journal.
R and D Award
R&D World magazine announced that three groundbreaking NETL technologies will receive prestigious R&D 100 awards for being among the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace in the last year. The winning technologies are described below:
Ampere Scientific, an Oregon-based company that licenses NETL’s Arc Position Sensing (APS) technology, received a best paper award at the Liquid Metals Processing and Casting conference held in Birmingham, England. The paper detailed a first-of-its-kind demonstration of the technology, which may lead to better processing and larger yields of specialty metals used in the energy, aerospace, chemical industries and other advanced applications. NETL’s APS technology is a patented, R&D 100 Award-winning measurement technology developed for the specialty metals industry, such as the production of alloys based on nickel, titanium and zirconium. These advanced materials often undergo a metallurgical casting process called vacuum arc remelting (VAR) that is used to refine an alloy’s physical and chemical properties. In this process VAR furnaces generate an electric arc that melts a consumable electrode to create ingots of the specialty metal. However, an imperfect arc can cause flaws in the ingots and these defects can lead to catastrophic failure when the metals are used in their final applications.
Coal Resources
In an effort that could ultimately help create new jobs and markets for coal, NETL researchers have developed a low-cost, coal-derived cement additive that could lead to the construction of stronger and more durable roads and buildings. Drawing upon their experience in converting coal to advanced materials and products, the NETL team has taken a new approach to synthesizing graphene, a unique form of carbon only one atom thick. When added to cement, graphene imparts significant molecular-level improvements to the material’s mechanical strength, electrical conductivity and overall durability. “By using abundant coal feedstocks, we are synthesizing graphene that is 50­–100 times less expensive than the usual method of using graphite,” said Yuan Gao, Ph.D., who works on NETL’s functional materials team. “Graphene created from graphite is too expensive to be feasible for commercial-scale cement applications, but our lower-cost, coal-derived graphene represents a critical first step for commercialization.”
Women Tech Conference photo
Female leaders serving in a variety of roles at NETL shared their professional pathways and unique perspectives on mentoring with other women at TechConnect West Virginia’s 2019 Women & Technology Conference. The conference, held Oct. 21 in Charleston, West Virginia, was designed for women working in technology fields, as well as those interested in pursuing or migrating to a technology-focused career. The event featured inspiring keynote speakers, valuable networking opportunities and educational breakout sessions. NETL’s Office of Science and Technology Career Management and TechConnect organized a panel discussion focused on women finding their voices and taking the lead. Participants explored strategies for women to maximize the impact of using their own voices, leverage their networks and address fear and risk. Participants included: