Director's Corner

Release Date: December 16, 2016

NETL’s Year in Review


Throughout 2016, NETL made great strides in developing technologies that protect the environment, enhance American energy independence and enable domestic coal, natural gas, and oil to economically power homes, industries, businesses, and transportation.

I’m very proud of the energy advancements we enabled, the prestigious awards we received, and key milestones we achieved. I’d like to share with you a few of our most noteworthy successes.

  • Working with industry partners, we collected the world’s most comprehensive hydraulic-fracturing research dataset in unconventional shale, which provides a first-ever look at how induced underground fractures spread within horizontal wellbores. The information can help reduce potential environmental impacts, improve efficiency, and demonstrate safe and reliable operations of hydraulic fracturing.
  • An NETL-managed carbon capture and storage project in Texas hit an impressive milestone by successfully capturing and transporting via pipeline, its 3 millionth metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) to be used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The project is helping to verify that CO2-EOR is an effective method for permanently storing CO2 in geologic formations while increasing oil production from fields once thought to be exhausted.
  • The National Risk Assessment Partnership (NRAP) led by NETL developed nine risk assessment tools that can enable users to predict the safety and permanence of carbon storage systems based on two major types of environmental risks: leakage and induced seismicity.
  • The NETL-led Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative released a computational toolset for carbon capture technology development that will help rapidly take carbon capture concepts from laboratory to power plants at lower cost and with reduced risks.
  • NETL researchers discovered that copper can help economically remove CO2 from fossil fuel emissions when used as part of a promising coal combustion technology known as chemical looping. Researchers have now set a new chemical looping lab record by operating more than 40 hours while using copper.
  • NETL played a key role in updating a 25-year old testing standard for foamed cement in oil and gas drilling. The standards help ensure quality, reduce cost, decrease waste, and support safer oil and gas operations around the world. 
  • NETL founded the Institute for the Design of Advanced Energy Systems (IDAES) as the premier resource for developing a rigorous computational approach for developing new equipment, processes, and approaches while avoiding limitations associated with retrofitting new materials or concepts to existing equipment.
  • Dr. Paul Ohodnicki, was selected for the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for his outstanding innovation and technical leadership in materials science. The PECASE award is the highest honor the U.S. government can bestow on scientists or engineers in the early stages of their research careers.
  • NETL was awarded three coveted R&D 100 Awards—for the CCSI Toolset, Computationally Optimized Heat Treatment of Metal Alloys, and HVAC Load Reduction Technology for Commercial Buildings. The award recognizes the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the commercial marketplace within the past year.

These are just a few of the successes we accrued in 2016. I look forward to the start of another year of innovation as we continue our mission to discover, integrate, and mature technology solutions to enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations.



As Acting Director of NETL, Sean I. Plasynski, Ph.D., builds on an extensive background in energy as he leads NETL in its mission to enhance the nation’s energy independence and protect the environment for future generations. For more information about Sean Plasynski's experience, please click here.