New Technologies To Prevent Spills

New Technologies To Prevent Spills

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) national laboratory that, in partnership with DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy (DOE-FE), produces technological solutions for America’s fossil energy challenges. From developing creative innovations and efficient energy systems that make coal more competitive, to advancing technologies that enhance oil and natural gas extraction and transmission processes, NETL research is providing breakthroughs and discoveries. These efforts support domestic energy initiatives, stimulate a growing economy, and improve the health, safety, and security of all Americans.


At the center of much of the energy research carried out by NETL is DOE’s advanced computer system.

Supercomputing is essential in achieving NETL’s support to DOE-FE’s program focus to discover, integrate and mature technology solutions that enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations. By expediting technology development through computational science and engineering, Joule 2.0 helps NETL cut costs, save time, and spur valuable economic investments with a global impact. A $16.5-million upgrade in 2019 boosted Joule’s computational power by nearly eight-fold, enabling researchers to tackle more challenging problems, as they work to make more efficient use of the nation’s vast fossil fuel resources.

Named for the familiar unit of energy, Joule allows researchers to model energy technologies, simulate challenging phenomena, and solve complex calculations, using computational tools that save time and money to ensure that technology development ultimately proves successful. The 2019 upgrade to Joule 2.0 boosted the system’s computational power to 5.767 petaflops (PFLOPS), meaning that it can perform more than 5 quadrillion calculations per second – equivalent to roughly 54,658 desktop computers combined

NETL also has created a Center for Data Analytics and Machine Learning (ML), which allows researchers to explore problems, using computer-based artificial intelligence (AI), ML, data mining, and advanced data-driven analytics. In addition to access to Joule, the center features a peta-scale machine (WATT), designed to house, transport and process up to 37 petabytes of data, using cutting-edge algorithms developed in-house and with external collaborators.

WATT links 104 graphics processing units (GPUs) with 16 petabytes of storage to provide unparalleled opportunities for the use of AI and ML, to enable scientific discovery and R&D acceleration. This facility enhances NETL’s ability to accumulate ML knowledge in analytical projects; enhance data handling functions, including curation, management and transformation of data; and combine physics-based modeling and AI/ML to address previously unanswerable problems or achieve fast, robust results.

DOE-fueled AI is already being applied broadly across the agency’s core missions. This research is strengthening national security and cybersecurity; improving grid resiliency and emergency response; and increasing energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. NETL’s recent AI- and ML-related achievements include rapidly screening advanced carbon capture materials to decrease the cost of the technology, and leading a multi-lab initiative called eXtremeMAT, which is using data analytics to develop and deploy new alloy materials that are affordable and perform reliably under the harsh environments encountered in high-temperature applications.