The Times West Virginian

July 1, 2012

R&D 100 Award

NETL’s research to control, reduce carbon dioxide emissions recognized

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — The National Energy Technology Laboratory’s research to control and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants has been recognized with a 2012 R&D 100 Award.

“Congratulations to this year’s R&D 100 Award winners,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a press release. “The research and development at the Department of Energy’s laboratories continues to help the nation meet our energy challenges, strengthen our national security and improve our economic competitiveness.”

NETL, within the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy, has offices and research facilities in Morgantown; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Sugar Land, Texas; Albany, Ore.; and Fairbanks, Alaska. According to the official website, www.netl.doe.gov, NETL focuses on the challenges that the National Energy Policy has identified.

NETL was recently notified that its carbon-capture technology, called the Basic Immobilized Amine Sorbent (BIAS) process, had been selected by R&D Magazine as one of the top 100 developed technologies to reach some level of commercialization during the past year. An awards banquet for all the winners will be held Nov. 1 in Orlando, Fla.

R&D Magazine, a publication that showcases successes in research and development as well as commercialization, has been presenting the annual, global R&D 100 Awards for 50 years. These awards, known as the “Oscars of Invention,” are very competitive and prestigious.

“It’s an honor for NETL to compete in these awards and win them, given the size of our research staff and organization,” said Dave Berry, director of NETL’s Separations and Fuel Processing Division.

Bill Rogers, deputy director of NETL’s Office of Research and Development, said this is a big accomplishment for NETL, the internal research group, and the people on the team who have actually done the work. He commented that NETL is “in good company” with the other entities that have received these awards.

“It’s an honor and it’s something that helps to recognize their achievement,” Rogers said.

Berry said it’s impressive to look at the technologies that have been acknowledged by R&D Magazine over the years and what they have done for the world.

Within the past five years, NETL has received 15 R&D 100 Awards. NETL submitted five applications for 2012, and one of those technologies was selected for an R&D 100 Award, Rogers said.

He explained that it takes months to develop an application and go through the process. NETL works to identify the most promising technologies that it is working on and the partners who have been involved in the development of the research.

“Essentially we’ve been tasked with dealing with the CO2 (carbon dioxide) issue in this country and, more globally, the world,” Berry said of the technology that the R&D 100 Award recognizes.

He said the researchers at NETL have been looking at power plant emissions and how to keep the carbon dioxide being released from power plants from going into the air. There are significant costs associated with implementing these kinds of technologies.

The NETL team wanted to capture the carbon dioxide from the large flue gas streams coming out of the plants in an efficient, cost-effective way, and also make sure they could do something with the carbon dioxide once it was captured, Berry said.

According to NETL, “Although some conventional technology exists that may be used to capture CO2, it’s expensive to employ. In comparison, NETL’s BIAS process offers many advantages over existing technologies, including increased CO2 capture capacity, reduced corrosion, lower energy requirements and costs, and minimized water usage.”

This greenhouse gas is one of the major contributors to global climate change. The combustion of fossil fuels to generate electricity makes up one-third of the man-made carbon dioxide emissions, NETL reports.

“NETL has pursued the technology in general by multiple pathways,” Berry said. “We have external developers that are pursuing this as well as the internal on-site research group.”

He said the R&D 100 Award is for the research conducted on-site by the research staff. A team of about seven or eight individuals has been working on the project for the past four or five years.

“The impact could be very significant in terms of trying to reduce carbon emissions,” especially from energy production applications like power plants, Berry said.

NETL has been very focused on developing this carbon capture technology with significant cost savings and energy savings, and takes this work very seriously, he said.

Berry said NETL continues to evolve and develop this technology, and as time goes by, will work more with developers who can commercialize the technology and take it to the marketplace for the public’s benefit.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com.