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ORNL and NETL researchers join forces to accelerate decarbonization

Leadership from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Energy Technology Laboratory signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly explore carbon management strategies in the Appalachian region. Credit: NETL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is teaming with the National Energy Technology Laboratory to jointly explore a range of technology innovations for carbon management and strategies for economic development and sustainable energy transitions in the Appalachian region.

ORNL Deputy for Science and Technology Susan S. Hubbard, Ph.D., and NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., signed an official memorandum of understanding during a brief ceremony held at NETL’s Morgantown, West Virginia, site Friday, March 17. ORNL’s Associate Laboratory Director for the Energy Science and Technology Directorate Xin Sun, Ph.D., also participated in the signing ceremony along with NETL’s Chief Research Officer, David C. Miller, Ph.D., and Associate Laboratory Director, Bryan Morreale, Ph.D.

“The generational challenge of reaching the nation’s clean energy goals requires the world-leading expertise and capabilities of the national laboratory system. This agreement allows us to collaborate across the strengths of our institutions for scientific innovation that moves the needle in terms of decarbonization for the Appalachian region and the United States," ORNL's Hubbard said.

NETL's Anderson added, “The purpose of the new agreement is to establish cooperative efforts in the areas of carbon management including carbon dioxide removal; critical minerals; industrial emissions; clean energy technologies including smart manufacturing; digital manufacturing technologies and advanced data analytics; and energy transition in the Appalachian region."

ORNL has a remarkable 80-year history of delivering scientific discoveries and translating them into solutions to address some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation. As the largest Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science national laboratory, ORNL brings an extraordinary range of world-class expertise and user facilities to bear on national challenges such as the clean energy transition, national security, and advancing emerging technologies critical for economic security. Signature strengths at ORNL include materials, nuclear science, neutron science, energy technologies, high-performance computing, biological and environmental sciences, and national security, while benefiting from close partnerships with the state of Tennessee, universities and industry.

NETL, which traces its origins to the early 1910’s, is DOE’s national laboratory focused on carbon management and resource sustainability. Its research portfolio includes carbon capture, transport and storage, carbon dioxide removal and conversion, hydrogen and reversible solid oxide fuel cells, critical minerals and rare earth elements, water management, and methane mitigation. NETL leads major initiatives in collaboration with other national laboratories and universities. Key capabilities at the lab include the Advanced Alloys Signature Center, the Science-Based Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Institute (SAMI), the Institute for the Design of Advanced Energy Systems (IDAES), the Center for Microwave Chemistry, and the recently announced Direct Air Capture Test Center.

Under the new agreement, ORNL and NETL intend to jointly explore:

• Development and demonstration of materials and technologies for carbon capture and utilization, in particular direct air capture. 
• Development of best practices for carbon dioxide removal, including measurement, reporting, and verification, and advanced data analytics to develop technologies and practices focusing on information, automation, monitoring, computation, sensing, modeling, and networking.
• Research, development, demonstration, and commercialization of sustainable technologies for production, extraction, separation and use of critical minerals, to ensure long-term secure and sustainable domestic supply chains.
• Creation of alternative uses of coal, including use as a precursor for manufacturing high value-added products.
• Development of technologies, including clean advanced manufacturing technologies with emphasis on those that can enable the decarbonization of the energy, industrial, transportation and buildings sectors. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, additive manufacturing, smart manufacturing, digital manufacturing, and advanced data analytics to develop advanced technologies and practices in sensing, automation, monitoring, computation, modeling, process integration and intensification, and process scale-up.
• Development and implementation of strategies to enable economic development and sustainable energy transitions in the Appalachian region.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit

NETL is a DOE national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By using its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.