National Energy Technology Laboratory

Coordinator: Madhava (Syam) Syamlal

Review abstracts for current and past practicum experiences at NETL >>

As the lead laboratory for DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) relies on a strong onsite research program conducted by federal scientists and engineers working in partnership with academia, other research institutions, and the private sector. NETL’s state-of-the-art capabilities and facilities are located in Morgantown, West Virginia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Albany, Oregon. NETL maintains a high performance computing cluster with 503 TFlops of peak performance. CSGF students will use these laboratory resources during the course of their research. Opportunities exist in the following areas for fellowship students:

Atomistic and Mesoscale Modeling

Ionic liquids (ILs) exhibit many desirable properties for deployment as part of a carbon capture process, including thermal stability, low vapor pressure, negligible flammability and, depending on the functionalization, good selectivity for CO2. Information regarding the energetics of the reaction of CO2 with ILs, obtained via ab initio calculations, can help shed light on the suitability of candidate ILs for use in real-world carbon capture operations. NETL is interested in accurately modeling such reactions using ab initio methods such as coupled cluster, resolution of the identity second-order Møller–Plesset perturbation theory, Density Functional Theory, symmetry adapted perturbation theory and quantum mechanics/molecule mechanics methods.

Another area of interest is multiscale modeling for fundamental understanding of metal oxidation at different length and time scales. The goal is to develop an integrated computational framework based on a mesoscale phase-field methodology with fundamental inputs from kinetic Monte Carlo and Density Functional Theory to gain insight into the fundamental material properties/processes that influence and control macroscopic oxidation.

Multiphase Flow

Understanding the performance of energy, environmental and chemical process devices based on multiphase flow physics is extremely challenging. Having the means to impact their design early in the developmental process is critically important to control costs and reduce the risk of not meeting performance standards. There is a critical need for science-based models with quantified uncertainty for reducing the cost and time required for development of multiphase flow devices. NETL’s Multiphase Flow Science research program is a strategic combination of computational and physical models of reacting multiphase flows whose purpose is to provide these validated science-based modeling tools.

Opportunities exist to work with a crosscutting team of engineers and scientists skilled in development and application of multiphase computational fluid dynamics software and multiphase experimentation. Typical applications of multiphase computation will include fluidized bed combustion, gasification, carbon capture, chemical looping combustion and gasification. Activities can span from fundamental code development, validation with experimental data, and uncertainty quantification.

Innovative Energy Concepts (IEC)

Available projects in IEC focus on development and implementation of computational methodologies to produce dynamic, high-fidelity, multi-scale physics models that support applied technology development in advanced turbines, magneto-hydrodynamics, solid oxide fuel cells, and hybrid power systems. Codes will typically describe physical phenomena, transport, and reaction processes featuring coupled structure and physics, and will often require consideration of processes occurring across broad time scales. Typical problems include: combustion simulations including associated heat and mass transfer, often at elevated temperature and pressure conditions; super-sonic and high-temperature flows, including ionized fluid flow in the presence of strong magnetic fields; mass and thermal transport in homogeneous media and across heterogeneous phase interfaces; diffusive, atomic-scale transport processes across electrochemically or electrically active solid phase boundaries; and dynamic modeling and operational control development of integrated energy conversion and transport processes.

Process Systems Engineering (PSE)

At NETL PSE research is concerned with the discovery, design, operation and optimization of complex, interacting energy systems in the context of many conflicting goals. PSE combines mathematics, operations research, and computer science, with traditional chemical engineering expertise. At NETL, new PSE techniques are being developed and applied to a broad range of advanced fossil energy systems, including chemical looping, transformational CO2 capture technologies, and supercritical CO2 cycles. Recently NETL and its collaborators created a number of innovative new computational capabilities as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative. Among these is an approach for the automated learning of algebraic models for optimization (ALAMO) and a framework for optimization and quantification of uncertainty and sensitivity (FOQUS). Several members of the National Academy of Engineering are members of NETL’s core PSE Team.

Predictive Geoscience

Many of the most important frontiers in subsurface energy production and in environmental protection are related to the behavior of fractured systems. Geothermal energy production, hydrocarbon recovery from shales, carbon storage security, and wastewater disposal all rely on an ability to understand and predict the behavior of fractures within subsurface rocks, hydrologically and/or geomechanically. At NETL, we have a world class research program focused on fractured media, including our FRACGEN and NFFLOW model development team. This project involves working with a team of scientists and engineers to use these models to address critical questions related to the impact of mechanics on flow for fossil and geothermal systems. Examples of the types of problems that you will be able to work on include the degradation of geothermal resources based on geochemical changes, the impact of geomechanics on leakage from a carbon storage reservoir, improved stimulation of shale gas reservoirs, and identifying causes of induced seismic events.

Data Science

As part of NETL Data Science Initiative, researchers will perform integrated lifetime and reliability analysis on high-throughput data for advanced power plant processes using advanced statistics, automated reasoning, machine learning, and high-performance computing techniques for large-scale data analytics. This is an excellent opportunity to find innovative ways of using data to support Fossil Energy technology development.