Release Date: December 12, 2014
A National Treasure: NETL's Advanced Materials Research
As one of the Energy Department’s national laboratories, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has a distinguished history of conducting complex and fruitful research for cleaner and more efficient fossil energy innovations. There is an additional national treasure that developed as a central part of that quest: expertise in the discovery, development, and deployment of sophisticated new materials. Some of those innovations save lives, others improve the nation’s infrastructure, and some boost the nation’s economy by making new products and jobs possible. But all were discovered in pursuit of the laboratory’s mission to improve national security, energy reliability, and environmental safety, affording the nation a significant double bang for its buck.
The skills and talents of an array of materials engineers, metallurgists, ceramic engineers, geologists, chemists, chemical engineers, and mechanical engineers are part of the NETL research effort because a significant amount of energy research depends upon a deep and productive understanding of the harsh environments in which fossil fuels are produced and consumed. That adds up to an integrated, multi-scale, multi-discipline program approach that consistently produces an invigorating list of advanced material innovations with impact beyond the quest for energy improvements.
We are justifiably proud of the fact that NETL is one of the few places in the world where alloy development, melting, casting, fabrication, physical and chemical characterization, and performance testing is accomplished all in one place.
In NETL’s labs, metal, ceramic, polymer, and composite materials are fabricated from proof-of-concept through bench-scale testing in uncommon research facilities. Researchers melt, cast, and forge new alloys, create new strategies to enhance the performance of materials that enable advanced energy systems, develop sorbents that remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from power plant flue gas, and tackle dozens of other advanced material challenges. Along the way, they assess corrosion, erosion, creep, wear, and functionality in severe environments that simulate real-life application, and they eventually deliver innovations that move from the laboratory to the marketplace.
There are numerous examples of NETL advanced materials success:
Those are only a few examples of the many advanced materials developed by NETL's material science and engineering experts. More details on these innovations and stories about others are available elsewhere on the NETL website and in the online version of Research News, the monthly publication of NETL’s Office of Research and Development.
As Director of NETL, Dr. Grace M. Bochenek brings a tradition of leadership, technical expertise, and precision to the laboratory’s mission of protecting the nation’s environment and enhancing its energy independence. For more information about Dr. Bochenek's background and experience, please click here.