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Clean Energy Projects Kick Off U.S.-China Collaborative R&D Initiative

July 9, 2010 - 1:00pm


Washington, DC - Three clean energy technology projects resulting from a 2009 agreement between the United States and China are kicking off a new collaborative research effort that will focus on managing carbon dioxide emissions and reducing the environmental impact of energy production.

The projects are a joint research effort between two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories - the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) - and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said international cooperation is a key element in DOE's efforts to expand the use of clean energy technologies by moving discoveries from the laboratory into the global marketplace. "Emissions from energy production don't recognize national borders, making international collaborations vitally important in our quest to provide sustainable, safe and clean energy for the future," said Secretary Chu. "By establishing a strong scientific alignment between the United States and China, U.S. and Chinese researchers can provide much-needed answers to the world's energy challenges."

Directors from DOE's NETL and PNNL recently met with representatives of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to embark on multiple projects aimed at accelerating development and deployment of coal conversion, emissions capture, and carbon storage technologies.

The research team, called the Clean Energy Partnership, will undertake three projects as part of the agreement, which has a five-year term and emphasizes growing collaborative energy R&D between the two nations:

In the first, researchers will evaluate converting an enhanced-oil-recovery site at China's Jiangsu oilfield into a geologic storage site for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Other geologic sites in China also will be evaluated to provide better understanding of the challenges and costs of deploying carbon capture and storage (CCS) in China. CCS is considered by many experts to be an important option in efforts to limit atmospheric CO2 emissions and help mitigate potential global climate change.

The second project will seek to integrate biomass as a secondary fuel source to coal in a traditional power plant by studying how the fuel is converted in a process called gasification. The team will look at developing new materials and processes that can function at the higher temperatures required to efficiently remove impurities in the emissions stream.

The third project will focus on improving the overall efficiency and economics of converting synthetic gas into natural gas. Advanced computational simulations and the development of new catalyst materials will enable the team to use a systems approach to increase conversion efficiency and natural gas yield.

In a separate initiative announced in July 2009, DOE Secretary Steven Chu, Chinese Minister of Science Wan Gang, and Administrator of National Energy Administration Zhang Guo Bao announced plans to develop a U.S./China Clean Energy Research Center to facilitate joint clean energy research and development (R&D), utilizing teams of scientists and engineers from both nations. Priority topics to be addressed under this initiative initially include building energy efficiency; clean coal (including CCS); and clean vehicles.