2014 NETL Awards

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NAGC Bestows Two Blue Pencil Gold Screen Awards for NETL Publications

NAGC 2014 Blue Pencil AwardNETL took home two prestigious National Association of Government Communicators’ 2014 Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards from the Association’s Annual Awards Banquet, held June 12 in Washington, D.C.

The NETL-Regional University Alliance (NETL-RUA) brochure Engineering the Future of Energy won Second Place in the brochures and booklets category. The article, “Ultra-deepwater Research at DOE: Protecting Our Environment Through Risk Assessment and Spill Prevention,” which was written for the environmental coastal and offshore industry magazine ECO, garnered an Award of Excellence in the articles category.

Engineering the Future of Energy

The NETL-RUA brochure was designed to encourage partnerships with the group. It gives readers a glimpse at lab successes, conveys the vital importance of energy research, and showcases the diverse capabilities of NETL-RUA. One member of the NETL-RUA executive committee called it “an excellent document to increase visibility of the Alliance.” Through its use of vivid color, large-format images, and tight text, the brochure aims for a unity between look and tone, embodying a clean, crisp, and bold style that resulted from a close collaboration between the NETL-RUA program manager and the communication team. The seven NETL-RUA member organizations have distributed Engineering the Future of Energy, and it was also published on the NETL website as an e-book.

Ultra-deepwater Research at DOE: Protecting Our Environment Through Risk Assessment and Spill Prevention

The ultra-deepwater research article was written to illustrate some of the exciting research conducted at NETL. It frames the environmental issues surrounding ultra-deepwater oil and natural gas recovery that provide the impetus for this research and discusses the primary goals of the program. It also profiles new technologies and supplies links that lead readers to more information about the program. ECO’s managing editor stated that the article, which was the first one ever prepared by NETL for the magazine, was “the best in this edition.”

The NAGC Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards program is an international competition that recognizes exceptional government communication products across more than 40 categories, from publications to graphic design to social media. With the addition of these two awards, NETL’s total of recent Blue Pencil Gold Screen Awards for its outstanding communications products rises to five.

Gas Separation TechnologyNETL Researcher to Receive National Award for Innovation in Gas Separation Technology


An innovation that could lead to a more efficient and cost-effective technology for reducing greenhouse gases at energy-producing facilities has garnered significant national recognition for a National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) researcher.

David LuebkeNETL’s David Luebke will be honored with a prized National Innovation Award at the upcoming TechConnect National Innovation Showcase for his work with a team of NETL researchers that transforms thick gas-absorbing ionic liquids into polymer fibers that retain gas-absorbing abilities. His work can result in a cheaper and more efficient gas separation process in areas like natural gas reforming, carbon capture, and chemical manufacturing.

Ionic liquids—liquid organic salts at room temperature—are effective in absorbing certain gases like carbon dioxide, sulfur, and hydrogen sulfide. However, a major problem with many of the liquids is their high viscosity.

“Viscosity is the resistance of liquids to flow,” Luebke explained. “For example, water has low viscosity and honey has higher viscosity. Ionic liquids are often somewhere between the two. The problem is that high viscosity makes getting gases into contact with the liquids difficult.  As a solution, we created a way to turn ionic liquids into solid fibers. Then, all you have to do is flow gases over the fibers to remove CO2 or other unwanted gases.”

The new fiber sorbents are attractive for carbon capture applications at fossil fuel-burning facilities because they are easier to transport, can be used in smaller equipment, and require less capital investment than traditional ionic liquids. They could also be used by the natural gas industry for gas sweetening—the removal of hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide from produced natural gas. The chemical industry could also use the sorbents to separate chemical species from mixtures, battery electrolytes, solvents, coatings, lubricants, and biological systems. The technology could serve a $760 million market.

The technology is available for licensing for additional development.    

In addition to receiving his Innovation Award, Luebke will present the technology at the TechConnect National Innovation Showcase. TechConnect is a global technology outreach and development organization that seeks to vet and deliver the world’s most promising technologies to the world’s top corporate, government, and investment developers.

According to TechConnect, its activities increase the innovation pipeline, help partners find new licensing and business opportunities, and match corporate and investment partners to top technologies from around the world.

The TechConnect World 2014 event will occur June 15–18 at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center just outside the nation’s capital.

Excellence in Environment, Security, Safety, and Health Award Winners Announced

NETL’s Environment, Security, Safety, and Health group won an award from the Office of Fossil  Energy for its hazmat training program. Great job, guys! L-R: Jerry Simkonis, Jeff Buterbaugh, Dan  Bozym, Senior Operations Manager Mike Monahan (holding NETL’s plaque), and Cindy Mullens

NETL’s Environment, Security, Safety, and Health group won an award from the Office of Fossil Energy for its hazmat training program. Great job, guys! L-R: Jerry Simkonis, Jeff Buterbaugh, Dan Bozym, Senior Operations Manager Mike Monahan (holding NETL’s plaque), and Cindy Mullens

The Office of Fossil Energy is proud to announce this year's recipients of its Excellence in Environment, Security, Safety and Health Award.

Duane Johnson, Jordan Jones, Todd Demaris, Dale Paff, Pitt Tarrant, Cheryl Tarrant, Kevin Cannon, Rick Shutt, Jerry Packard, and Larry Barela of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve received an award for the Protective Force “Supervisor Surveillance Program.”

This program is designed to encourage supervisors to document, trend, and track their observations of their personnel's performance during “Post Activity Checks.” Prior to implementation of this program, supervisors would meet with their officers on a regular basis, but they would only note the time and location of the visit. Supervisors are now given time to document their surveillances in detail to ensure that the officers are handling the tasks effectively, that there is adherence to protocol and adequacy of directives, and that the tasks are performed in a working environment that is the safest possible. Since November 2011, there have been a total of 6,747 surveillances documented. The data contained in these surveillances are used to produce monthly and quarterly self-assessment reports that highlight both positive activities and those areas requiring attention. Graphs reflect each site's performance toward topical observations, and tracking validates that the number of surveillances conducted has a corresponding reduction in safety incidents and security findings. When critical areas are identified, WSI distributes a Lessons Learned/Safety Bulletin announcement.

Jeff Buterbaugh, Jerry Simkonis, Dan Bozym, and Cindy Mullens of the National Energy Technology Laboratory received an award for the “Developing Advanced Technical HAZMAT Team Competencies through Enhanced Training” program.

This program prepares the all-volunteer hazmat/rescue branch members to perform hazardous materials response, technical rope rescue operations, confined space rescue operations, and bomb searches under potentially stressful conditions while wearing personal protective ensembles and the self-contained breathing apparatus. This program is a departure from previous training programs in that it is done in house, which allows for more flexibility in the frequency and type of training offered. Volunteers developed more comprehensive skill sets and closer relationships with their teammates as a result, and their increased satisfaction with the program inspired additional employees to volunteer and led to a decrease in turnover. In addition, because all members now have the same training, they are all capable of responding to each unique situation.

Congratulations to this year's winners! The Office of Fossil Energy would like to extend a special thank you to all the nominees from NETL and SPR for their efforts to make the Office of Fossil Energy an environmentally friendly, safe, and secure work environment. The Office of Fossil Energy would also like to thank Guido DeHoratiis, Nathan Harvey, Darren Mollot, and Jay Braitsch for their service on the judging panel and for making this award program so successful.

The Pittsburgh Federal Executive Board Honors NETL with Eight Awards


NETL took home one team and seven individual awards at the 31st Annual Pittsburgh Federal Executive Board (FEB) Excellence in Government Awards Program Luncheon at the Westin Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh FEB encompasses more than 100 Federal agencies and 20,000 Federal employees in the region. The Excellence in Government Awards Program encourages innovation and excellence in government, reinforces pride in federal service, and helps call public attention to the broad range of services provided by federal employees.

NETL medal winners were:

Gold Medals

  • Donald Ferguson, Community Service Award: Dr. Ferguson was recognized for his volunteer work developing high-tech tools that assist local and national search and rescue efforts, particularly his Integrated Geospatial Tools for Search and Rescue (IGT4SAR). The mobility model of IGT4SAR considers the influence of slope, land cover, hydrology, and the availability of travel aides to provide a realistic estimate of the distance a missing person may have travelled. IGT4SAR is used by numerous organizations around the world.

  • Barbara Kutchko, Outstanding Contribution to Science (Non-Medical): An internationally known expert in wellbore cement, Dr. Kutchko serves as the principal investigator for groundbreaking NETL evaluations of foamed cement systems for oil and natural gas wells, primarily to mitigate environmental impacts. Dr. Kutchko also conducted forensic analyses on cement associated with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and her results were highlighted in a technical report seen as the “roadmap for future wellbore cement research.”

  • Lisa Nichols, Outstanding Administrative Employee: Ms. Nichols led five NETL projects that improved existing office business systems or replaced them with new, innovative systems. Her guidance helped increase the overall effectiveness of the laboratory’s office operations by increasing data accuracy and reliability. The systems she implemented help reduce the time it takes to complete work processes and cut costs by reducing labor requirements.

  • Jimmy Thornton, Outstanding Supervisor/Manager in a Professional Series: Mr. Thornton improved NETL’s safety training management, leading to improvements in efficiency and effectiveness for its Safety Analysis Review (SARS) team. He also implemented an automated training verification system that combines official training completion records with project-specific training requirements. The system has reduced supervisory time to complete training verification by more than 90 percent.

Silver Medals

  • Julianne Klara, Outstanding Professional Employee (All Other Fields): Ms. Klara implemented the NETL-Regional University Alliance (NETL-RUA) and coordinated operations between NETL, five regional universities, and an engineering, design, and construction firm. She provided high-level expertise and management advice on optimizing research collaborations and independently developed and implemented a strategic vision and business plan for NETL-RUA that led to the discovery and development of new energy systems.

  • David Miller, Outstanding Professional Employee (Medical and Scientific Field): Dr. Miller developed and leads NETL’s Carbon Capture Storage Initiative (CCSI), which is developing computational tools and models to cut the time and cost of designing highly efficient, environmentally benign energy systems. Dr. Miller led the creation of the first CCSI Toolset: a unique, integrated suite of simulation-based tools that help industry rapidly and cost-effectively screen, develop, scale up, and deploy carbon-capture and related technologies.

  • Marissa Arnold, Mara Dean, Peter Hensel, and Brett Humble, Outstanding Team Award: NETL’s Research & Development (R&D) Safety Analysis and Review (SARS) Team developed and implemented updates to their R&D SARS procedure to increase lab safety and significantly improved the efficiency of the safety analysis process. NETL saw a 45 percent reduction in the amount of time needed to handle a SARS review process after implementation.

Bronze Medal

  • Bruce Brown, Outstanding Professional Employee (All Other Fields): Mr. Brown manages the Department of Energy’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships: the lead U.S. program investigating methods for successfully storing CO2 in geologic formations across various regions of the United States and Canada. Mr. Brown also coordinates public meetings in the subject area to facilitate industry and academic networking and information exchange.