Pittsburgh, PA – Two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories with energy research expertise are joining forces to pursue research on new ways to use coal to create innovative high-value products. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed today by representatives of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) at NETL’s Pittsburgh site. DOE Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steve Winberg attended the signing event.
“The MOU signed today signals the Department’s continued commitment to enhancing the use of our coal resources,” said Assistant Secretary Winberg. “The depth and breadth of scientific knowledge across the DOE enterprise, especially at our National Labs, is what allows for this kind of innovative partnership.”
Joining Assistant Secretary Winberg at the MOU signing were ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia, Acting NETL Director Sean Plasynski, and Lab employees. According to Plasynski and Zacharia, the MOU will lead to joint exploration of projects that use coal as a precursor for products like pitches, fibers, nanocarbon catalysts, and other structural or functional materials.
Types of joint research that will be pursued by the laboratories include:
- Reduction of water consumption in energy production
- Development and testing of materials for use in extreme environments with an emphasis on materials for power generation and the conversion, use, storage, and transmission of energy
- Development of advanced electrical grids, microgrids, and cybersecurity technologies for energy infrastructure
- Innovation of advanced manufacturing technology for energy production, especially fossil energy technologies
- Execution of workforce and economic development initiatives in the Appalachian region
Representatives of the two laboratories also discussed other areas of mutual interest including advanced manufacturing, high performance computing, workforce development in Appalachia and extreme environment materials.
“Both laboratories bring specific experience, skills, and techniques to bear on challenges related to the efficient development of fossil energy resources,” said NETL’s Plasynski. “It is practical to make sure those various attributes are attuned to a progressive collaborative approach. Great positive strides will result.”
“Oak Ridge is a leader in transformational research, from fundamental science to applied technology, and we have a long track record of improving materials and applying them to new uses,” said ORNL’s Zacharia. “Breakthroughs in materials, as well as energy production and manufacturing, are critical for our national competitiveness. We’re glad to be partnering with NETL.”