Over 100 Years of Collaborative Energy R&D
A mine tunnel partially coated with light-colored rock duct (photo credit: National Archives and Records Administration

NETL’s long history of leadership in the research and development of fossil energy reaches back to the days of NETL’s predecessor organization, the century-old U.S. Bureau of Mines.

The Bureau of Mines was a leader in technological advancements that benefitted American industries and consumers. Commencing as a small agency dedicated to making coal mining safer, it developed into a nationwide network of experiment stations supporting petroleum and natural gas production, mining and refining of rare metals, and the conversion of coal into gas and liquid fuels.


A Bureau of Mines truck equipped to run on synthetic gasoline derived from coal, 1941 (photo credit: National Archives and Records Administration)

From energy conservation efforts in the Great Depression, through urgent World War II research into aviation, fuels, explosives, and nuclear materials, to its more familiar focus on developing new technologies to secure the Nation’s energy future, NETL’s path has had many pioneering twists and turns. Along this journey, onsite federal energy scientists with the Bureau of Mines and, later, at NETL pioneered breakthroughs that built the foundation for ambitious research for a broad range of energy issues and the materials needed to enable these technologies.


Today, cutting-edge research continues at NETL’s three laboratory sites located in Albany, Oregon; Morgantown, West Virginia; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  NETL scientists and engineers perform research at these federal laboratory facilities in multi-disciplinary research teams and through long-standing partnerships with universities, and other research institutions.  Leveraging its people and its research and development capabilities with those of our partners enable the right research teams to conduct the right research to effectively meet emerging national needs for science and technology.