NETL: Providing Energy Technology Solutions and Options

The United States is continuing its successful track record of providing global leadership in technologies critical to ensuring the prosperity of current and future generations, as it has done for decades. Today, clean energy technologies need to be quickly developed to satisfy often opposing energy needs: national security, affordability, and environmental sustainability.

The nation is currently engaged in an “all of the above” energy strategy to meet energy demands of today, but more importantly, to provide a prosperous and clean energy foundation for future generations. As has been the case for decades, projections by the Energy Information Administration detail that fossil fuels will continue to be a major contributor for decades to come, supplying nearly 80% of national and global energy.

Fossil Energy Focus

Affordable and abundant fossil energy powers manufacturing; fuels the transportation sector; heats and lights our homes, schools, and hospitals; powers our military; and creates jobs. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), the only Department of Energy National Laboratory dedicated to fossil energy, is aggressively executing mission critical research and development that will facilitate the continued service of fossil fuels as the backbone of the energy portfolio.

The NETL is focused on accelerating innovation, development, and deployment of clean energy technologies associated with coal, petroleum, natural gas, and methane hydrates through three enduring mission elements: effective resource development, efficient energy conversion, and environmental sustainability.

Carbon Capture Collaborations

Through strategic partnership with the private sector, academia, and other government laboratories, the NETL is continuously advancing technologies promoting the affordable and clean use of fossil fuels, most notably by combating greenhouse gas emissions. Our intramural research in Albany, Ore., Morgantown, W.V., and Pittsburgh, Pa., is leveraging world-class facilities and expertise to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of fossil energy through increased efficiency, removal of greenhouse gases from the supply chain, and the permanent sequestration of carbon dioxide.

The NETL utilizes pilot and field testing to evaluate promising technologies at scales and conditions that will accelerate deployment. For example, the lab has partnered to provide the nation a mission-unique user facility, the National Carbon Capture Center, to evaluate promising carbon capture technologies under slip-streams for both pre- and post-combustion environments.

In addition, through the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership and other major demonstrations, the NETL and its partners have injected over 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into a variety of geologic formations, facilitating the development of safe, cost-effective, and permanent sequestration.

A Stronger Future

Likely of greatest importance, the NETL is playing a critical role in developing the scientists, engineers, and energy leaders who will pave the way for a prosperous tomorrow. The NETL is actively engaged in mentoring, training, and collaborations with the academic sector, using our three research campuses to offer hands-on experience, and reaching out to even younger generations through K-12 activities.

The energy future is very bright for the U.S. We have the opportunity, ability, and, likely, the responsibility to develop and mature clean energy technologies that will provide a prosperous energy future for our children and their children. Most importantly, we will be providing an environment that is in better condition than the one given to us. ■

Dr. Grace M. Bochenek is the director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

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