National Energy Technology Lab Director Brian Anderson recently shared the lab’s contributions in addressing America’s long-term energy challenges while retaining environmental integrity at a gathering of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Energy Initiative.
He highlighted NETL’s advances in cost-effective implementation of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies throughout the power-generation sector to ensure Americans continue to have access to clean, affordable and reliable energy. He also explained how NETL’s core competencies can be applied to many fields beyond fossil fuels.
“If you’re a good geoscientist, you can apply your skills in geothermal, carbon sequestration, oil and gas recovery, nuclear waste storage or even seismic predictions. We do the same,” Anderson said. “The message I wanted to get across is that we’re more than just a fossil energy laboratory. Yes, we’re the fossil energy laboratory, but we’re applying our expertise across many energy sectors.”
Anderson’s presentation at MIT focused on the lab’s efforts to lower the nation’s costs of addressing carbon emissions with the right techniques and technologies.
NETL’s Carbon Capture program has supported more than 180 second-generation research and development projects that have cut the cost of carbon capture by nearly 50% and reduced the energy penalty (the amount of generated energy used by carbon capture technologies) by nearly 20%.
NETL used its revolutionary computational framework to screen more than a million mixed matrix membranes (MMM) and to identify promising MMMs for post-combustion carbon capture. MMMs are projected to decrease the cost of carbon capture from $63 to $48 per metric ton of CO2 removed. These membranes are now being scaled up for demonstration using actual flue gas at the National Carbon Capture Center in Wilsonville, Alabama, advancing their commercial feasibility.
Anderson will also highlight NETL’s Carbon Storage program, which helps to ensure safe, secure, efficient, and affordable CO2 injection and containment in diverse geologic storage complexes. NETL leads the National Risk Assessment Partnership (NRAP), which leverages DOE’s capabilities in science-based predictive modeling of engineered geologic systems to overcome barriers to large-scale deployment of geologic carbon storage. NRAP develops and demonstrates computational tools and methods to quantitatively assess and effectively manage risks related to potential leakage and ground motion at storage sites, and to inform monitoring design that builds confidence in system performance and verifies containment integrity.
NETL’s Carbon Utilization program promotes research and development that utilizes CO2 to generate value-added products. NETL researchers are converting waste CO2 into chemicals, offsetting CO2 capture costs, facilitating clean and safe development of energy resources, and developing new markets and job opportunities.
The director also shared NETL’s work beyond power generation and carbon capture, such as materials engineering, fabrication, energy conversion and computer technologies, which can open the door to increased energy efficiency and longer service lives for the nation’s power plant fleet.
“It was a pleasure to return to MIT. More importantly, this was an excellent opportunity to display the fruits of NETL’s labor,” Anderson said. “The fact that the event so well attended demonstrates the vast interest that exists for keeping all options open, to power the future with the resources and technologies at our disposal in a sustainable manner.”