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.
Researchers at PNNL have found a better way to test carbon-capturing solvents. They created and validated a computational model that predicts how easily a solvent will flow and how much carbon it will capture. The model offers definitive, accurate predictions about different carbon-capture solvents and it can—in a few hours or days—show the potential capture properties of a solvent.
A subsurface imaging software that combines supercomputing data analysis with real-time imaging and modeling capabilities was named one of the 100 most innovative scientific breakthroughs of the year. Real-time Four-Dimensional Subsurface Imaging Software—or E4D-RT—and its inventor, PNNL scientist Tim Johnson, were recognized November 3 at the R&D 100 Awards ceremony near Washington, D.C.
Once used to explore the inside of pyramids and volcanoes alike, muons—elementary particles originating from cosmic rays—are now enabling researchers to see deep underground with a technological breakthrough from PNNL. Scientists successfully tested the prototype borehole muon detector, moving it one step closer to field deployment for the imaging of carbon dioxide plumes and other subsurface features such as geologic layers, minerals, or other energy resources.