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NETL Inventions Earn 2009 Technology Transfer Awards

February 13, 2009 - 12:00pm


Washington, DC -- Two technologies developed by researchers at the Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) have earned 2009 Excellence in Technology Transfer Awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC). Both technologies enable the cleaner use of coal for electricity production and have been licensed to the private sector for commercial development.

The awards will be formally presented at the annual FLC national meeting to be held May 4-7, 2009, in Charlotte, N.C. The national awards are given for outstanding work commercializing new and innovative technologies developed by federal employees. This year's awards, the most recent in a long line of technology transfer awards for NETL, are for a wet scrubbing process for carbon dioxide capture and for the Thief Process for the removal of mercury from flue gas.

NETL's wet scrubbing process for carbon capture uses an ammonia-based solution to remove carbon dioxide, as well as sulfur dioxide and nitric oxides, from the flue gases that form during the combustion of coal. As an added benefit, an ammonium sulfate/nitrate fertilizer, a salable commodity, is produced in the process, while the spent ammonia solution is regenerated and recycled to the scrubbing unit, which minimizes cost. NETL patented the process and later licensed it to Powerspan Corp.

The Thief Process, another NETL-developed technology, cost-effectively removes mercury from flue gas. In this process, partially combusted coal from the furnace of a pulverized-coal power plant is extracted and then re-injected into the ductwork downstream of the air preheater to serve as a mercury sorbent. Testing at laboratory-, bench-, and pilot-scales has shown that the Thief sorbents have capacities for mercury capture from flue gas streams that are comparable to those of commercially available activated carbons. Because the Thief sorbents are significantly cheaper, the process holds great potential for reducing the cost of mercury removal from flue gas. NETL has licensed the Thief Process to Nalco-Mobotec.

Prior to winning national awards for technology transfer from the FLC, both processes earned regional awards from the Mid-Atlantic Federal Laboratory Consortium Region in September 2008.