Monday, April 23, 2018

Story shared by Shelley Martin, DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory, 304-285-0228,

UCFER Director Chunshan Song, Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State UniversityNETL is aggressively addressing fundamental fossil energy research challenges in partnership with 16 universities across the country, devoting about $4 million to 12 projects within two years. Another $4 million is slated to be awarded to seven additional topics by the end of June.

The University Coalition for Fossil Energy Research (UCFER) hosted its first annual technical review meeting April 16-17 at NETL’s Morgantown, W.Va., site. Participants from partner schools were invited to join NETL leaders and researchers to conduct Coalition business, review ongoing projects, and discuss future possibilities for collaboration to tackle critical challenges in important fossil energy research areas.

“Collaboration with academia is a key part of NETL’s success and impact,” said NETL Director (Acting) Sean Plasynski, Ph.D. He noted that 33 percent of NETL’s research investment funding in the current fiscal year went to university partners through a variety of academic programs in addition to UCFER.

More than 80 percent of U.S. energy demand is met using fossil energy sources. UCFER Director Chunshan Song, Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State University, highlighted energy outlook statistics that show fossil fuels will continue to account for the bulk of U.S. energy use in the decades to come. He said UCFER’s goal is to advance basic and applied energy research in collaboration with NETL for more efficient and environmentally friendly use of coal, oil, and natural gas.

“The University Coalition has developed a well-advanced infrastructure for us to work with NETL to continue the development of fossil energy technologies,” Song said. “This meeting has been wonderful in the exchange and two-way dialogue between NETL leaders and technology managers, NETL researchers, and the university faculty members from all the 16 universities. That’s a great accomplishment.”

DOE Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg and Penn State Vice President of Research Neil Sharkey, Ph.D., addressed meeting attendees to praise UCFER’s work and stress the value of collaboration.

“The program is very much on track,” Sharkey said, referring to UCFER. “I think that our combined efforts are really doing an excellent job. We’ve got incredible firepower that can really make a difference. Putting this many universities together with a major energy laboratory, only good things can happen.”

Partnerships like UCFER help NETL leverage its connections, resources, and expertise to develop reliable and affordable solutions to the nation’s energy challenges. By finding ways to cut costs and boost efficiency, innovations by NETL and its partners support home-grown energy initiatives, stimulate a growing economy, and improve the health, safety, and security of all Americans.