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John Johnson operates a state-of-the-art variable frequency microwave reactor in the newly commissioned Reaction Analysis and Chemical Transformation (ReACT) facility in Morgantown.
Increased Efficiency, Fewer Emissions through Reaction Science and Energy Conversion Engineering

Clemens Winkler, the 19th century German chemist, once quipped that “The world of chemical reactions is like a stage, on which scene after scene is ceaselessly played.” It’s an action-packed simile that’s particularly accurate when applied to much of the work underway at NETL where talented researchers are using sophisticated technologies and approaches to discover new ways to cleanly and efficiently use fossil fuels to keep the nation strong.

With the Lab’s world-class facilities, NETL researchers are studying transformative reaction chemistry and other energy conversion technologies that will help the nation use less fuel and create fewer emissions by increasing efficiency. These evolving technologies are often based on chemical reactions that, like Winkler observed, play out ceaselessly like scene after scene on a theatrical stage.

For the next several weeks, stories on our web site will provide our readers with examples of how NETL experts are studying transformative reaction chemistry and creating conversion engineering technologies that will bolster the U.S. economy and improve the environment. We will present information about a range of ongoing work and how researchers are:

  • Unleashing the power of microwaves to convert hydrocarbons into marketable fuels, chemicals and products.
  • Developing direct power extraction technology for advanced high-efficiency coal power generation converting the thermal or kinetic energy in fluids into useable power.
  • Using high-tech microscopy and X-ray diffraction capabilities to discover ways to rearrange carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules to both reduce emissions and create new domestic supplies of fuels and chemicals.
  • Exploring the use of oxygen carriers to enhance gasification, a combustion-free process that relies on chemical reactions to convert coal into clean power, chemicals, hydrogen and transportation fuels within an enclosed space.
  • Using a gold-based catalyst and sunlight to convert CO2 into value-added chemicals.  

A robust fossil-based economy supports a high quality of life for millions of Americans, sustains its manufacturing and high-tech industries, and fosters economic growth. Using abundant fossil energy resources with sustainable environmental stewardship is critical. The advanced energy conversion technologies being explored by NETL can enable efficiencies that increase power production and reduce overall power generation costs. We hope you will enjoy reading about some of those efforts.