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Rick Perry and Brian Anderson
DOE Secretary Perry Visits NETL to Learn about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Applications for Fossil Energy Production

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry was at NETL in Pittsburgh Tuesday to learn about the Laboratory’s work to significantly increase oil and gas recovery effectiveness while reducing environmental impacts using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) techniques.

NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., hosted the Secretary’s visit. Anderson said Secretary Perry visited to learn about how NETL is investigating emergent AI and ML techniques for upstream, midstream, and downstream conversion techniques that can revolutionize fossil energy opportunities.

AI is a branch of computer science focused on creation of intelligent machines to increase accuracy and efficiency, reduce human errors, and reduce costs.  NETL is developing AI applications for a multiphase particle tracking software platform.  

Science-based ML is the confluence of science-based prediction, data collection from novel sensors, and data analytics. NETL’s work builds upon investments by the DOE Office of Fossil Energy to develop rapid predictive modeling capabilities like computational fluid dynamics – the use of applied mathematics, physics and computational software to visualize how a gas or liquid flows and how the gas or liquid affects objects as it flows past.

Using ML and AI, researchers can gather and analyze information to make decisions that can increase the production of oil and gas and reduce environmental impacts.

Specifically, Secretary Perry was briefed about NETL’s Center for Advanced Decision Science a data analytics approach to support machine learning and big data analytics algorithms for complex fossil energy research challenges. Partners for the initiative include Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), West Virginia University (WVU), Battelle, Leidos, industry partners through existing oil and gas field labs and Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships, and other national labs.

NETL officials also discussed the Laboratory’s efforts to find opportunities to apply ML approaches and validate their application in the field.

NETL has been building expertise in the AI and ML energy research fields. In July, the Laboratory partnered with the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University to host “Real-Time Decision-Making for the Subsurface” workshop. The event attracted more than 60 key researchers, government leaders, and industry stakeholders to discuss advancements in subsurface energy research with a focus on ML and data analytics. DOE Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg attended the workshop.