Clean Fossil Energy
Despite global efforts to transition away from carbon-emitting energy sources like coal, oil, and natural gas, fossil fuels are projected to lead the global energy mix for the foreseeable future. Until the bridge to renewable energy is crossed, PNNL scientists and engineers are dedicated to reducing the environmental impacts of hydrocarbon production and use, especially emissions—including greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuels—on Earth's atmosphere
From fundamental process understanding to field-scale design and deployment, our researchers deliver advanced capabilities in subsurface science and simulation to enable safe and effective control of subsurface fluid injection and extraction. We also integrate chemistry, materials, and process engineering to develop technologies that more efficiently convert fossil hydrocarbons into power, fuels, and chemicals—all critical to environmentally and economically viable production and use of fossil energy.
Borrowing from well-understood polymers used in medicine, researchers at PNNL are developing a new stimulation fluid that could be a boon to tapping both geothermal energy and unconventional oil and gas reserves. The fluid is a solution of water and 1% non-toxic polyallylamine that could lead to more effective, environmentally friendly hydraulic fracturing applications.
Instead of drawing electricity from the power grid, new research suggests that large facilities like big box stores or hospitals facilities could use natural gas-powered solid oxide fuel cells to lower their electric costs, increase power reliability, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Initially designed as a simulator for subsurface flow and transport, PNNL's Subsurface Transport Over Multiple Phases computer code, or STOMP, now has expanded capabilities. The additional code – an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) module – gives the scientific community a numerical simulator that has full multi-fluid flow, heat transport, and geochemical capabilities.