Simulation Based Engineering Research Areas

sbe-research-focus-area.pngSimulation Based Engineering Research and Development supports a rigorous computational approach for developing new concepts for advanced fossil energy systems and the development and deployment of state-of-the-art computational modeling and simulation tools to accelerate the commercialization and ultimately widespread deployment of technologies for advanced power generation.

Multiphase Flow Science provides a platform to perform virtual kinetics experiments that elucidate the effect of operating conditions on output variables.

IDAES and its capabilities will be applicable to the development of the full range of advanced fossil energy systems, including chemical looping and other transformational CO2 capture technologies, as well as integration with other new technologies such as supercritical CO2 cycles. Computational design methods and concepts are required to significantly improve performance and reduce the costs of existing fossil energy power generation systems.

Innovative Energy Concepts

Multiphase Flow Science

NETL’s computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code, MFiX, is an open-source software that is the standard test for comparing, implementing, and evaluating multiphase flow constitutive models. MFiX has greatly improved simulations within multiphase flow systems. Carbonaceous Chemistry for Computational Modeling (C3M) is a platform to perform virtual kinetic experiments. C3M provides a tool that can directly import kinetic information into a variety of computational software.

Innovative Energy Concepts


The Institute for the Design of Advanced Energy Systems (IDAES) will be the world’s premier resource for the development and analysis of innovative advanced energy systems through the use of process systems engineering tools and approaches. IDAES and its capabilities will be applicable to the development of the full range of advanced fossil energy systems, including chemical looping and other transformational CO2 capture technologies. IDAES will allow for the development of entirely new equipment, processes and approaches for fossil energy generating systems.

Innovative Energy Concepts

Computational Modeling of Materials

Provides a conceptual framework for integrating models at different scales. The approach allows evaluation of new hardware concepts and virtual exploration of systems such as gasifiers, chemical looping reactors, pressurized oxy-combustion units, and CO2 capture vessels. Computational modeling provides a method for development of new materials and demonstrate a predictive materials behavior. The modeling accelerates the design, development, and optimization of efficient, cost-effective structural and functional materials.

Benefit Analyses
The Program is focused on the key benefit of increases in process efficiency and performance, reduction of environmental risk, and opportunities to lower cost with the introduction of new technologies improved efficiency, increased availability, improved systems performance, and advanced systems modeling.

Simulation-Based Engineering Summary Level Benefits

  • Software tools for sensor placement and lifecycle asset management could enhance overall gasifier performance by realizing:
    • 1–2% improvement in gasifier availability over 3 years of refractory life
    • $5M increase in revenue due to improved availability
    • 1% improvement in efficiency through better management of refractory degradation and other fouling issues
  • Computational methods applied to the design, development, and optimization of materials to accelerate creation of cost-effective, functional materials deployable with less repetitive testing; and for advanced plant designs go operational more rapidly
  • Advanced model-based tools may shorten power system component development cycles and improve assessment of uncertainties and risks
    • Enhanced knowledge sharing with industry may reduce capital cost by five percent during commercialization and yield cost savings for power industry on the order of $3 billion
    • Achieving CCSI goal could allow development cycle to skip over one intermediate scale plant (e.g., 120 MWe) while improving risk assessment. Reaching larger scale demonstration 5 years earlier could result in estimated cost savings of ≈$100 million
    • Achieving NRAP goal can create science-based tools that will raise confidence in defined storage-security metrics and identify safe operational envelops to ensure 99% permanent storage

Note: Analysis based on 2011 coal costs and 2011 coal-fired power plant fleet
Source: 2017. "NETL Multiphase Flow Science Impact and Benefits Analysis."