Source: Daily Energy Insider | Kevin Randolph | March 06, 2018

Two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories agreed recently to collaborate on research into new ways to use coal to create high-value products.

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Representatives of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) at NETL’s Pittsburgh site signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on March 2. ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia, Acting NETL Director Sean Plasynski, DOE Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steve Winberg, and lab employees attended the signing event.

“The MOU signed today signals the Department’s continued commitment to enhancing the use of our coal resources,” Winberg said. “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.”

According to lab representatives, the MOU will lead to joint research into projects that use coal as a precursor for products such as pitches, fibers, nanocarbon catalysts, and other structural or functional materials.

Research will also address the reduction of water consumption in energy production, advanced manufacturing technology for energy production, development and testing of materials for use in extreme environments including energy applications, workforce and economic development initiatives in the Appalachian region and the development of advanced electrical grids, microgrids, and cybersecurity technologies for energy infrastructure.

“Both laboratories bring specific experience, skills, and techniques to bear on challenges related to the efficient development of fossil energy resources,” Plasynski said. “It is practical to make sure those various attributes are attuned to a progressive collaborative approach. Great positive strides will result.”