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Benefits of Research

  • Since its creation in 1977, FE has established a legacy of achievement, return-of-value, and tangible benefits for the taxpayer dollars invested.

  • Office of Fossil Energy research helped refine cost-effective horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies, making hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of natural gas technically recoverable.

  • FE has played a major role in developing technologies to help tap new, unconventional sources of natural gas.

  • Through FE R&D, the United States has become a world leader in carbon capture and storage science and technology.

Research and development activities at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy have helped increase domestic energy supplies and security, lowered costs, improved efficiencies, and enhanced environmental protection over the past 30 years.

Fossil Energy Research Benefits - A Legacy of Benefit

Included among the innovative technologies developed by FE and its National Energy Technology Laboratory since 1977, and resulting significant national benefit, are:

  • Pioneering Enhanced Oil Recovery technologies that today are contributing 13 percent of total U.S. oil production as well as a means for injecting and permanently storing carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, in geologic formations.
  • Producing some 20 innovative technologies – such as low nitrogen oxide (NOx) burners, flue gas desulfurization (scrubbers) and fluidized bed combustion – through the Clean Coal Technology Development Program (CCTDP, 1986-93), many of which are now in the marketplace and benefitting energy production and air quality improvements.
  • Advancing drilling, fracturing and environmental technologies that have helped oil and natural gas production from abundant shale resources increase significantly over the past decade.
  • Developing methane hydrate (molecules of natural gas trapped in ice crystals) research to the point where U.S resources have been identified, exploration models tested and confirmed, and production concepts refined and ready for initial field testing.
  • Amassing extensive expertise and advisory capability in ultra-deepwater resource location, production, safety and environmental protection, helping these energy sources to now account for 32 percent of domestic crude oil production and 13 percent of total dry gas production.
  • Achieving advances in numerous other areas critical to U.S. energy production and environmental protection, including coal bed methane; the recycling and reuse of solid waste materials from coal combustion; proving the readiness of activated carbon injection to meet expected air quality regulatory standards for coal-based mercury emissions; and pioneering advanced turbine technologies.