The Future of Fossil Fuels and the Doe

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), February 4, 2018 | Go to article overview

The Future of Fossil Fuels and the Doe


After reading the article about Steve Winberg, the Department of Energy assistant secretary for fossil energy, and his visit to theNational Energy Technology Laboratory (Jan. 25, "National Energy Technology Laboratory in Step With Trump Policy, Its Leaders Say"), I concluded that the DOE is losing its way. Ispent 40 years in the energy industry RD&D (research, development and demonstration) sector, including my 10 years as a senior executive with the DOE responsible for developing and commercializing fossil fueltechnologies.

Mr. Winberg boasts that the future will allow the export of clean coal technologies, butthe current effort on carbon capture from conventional coal plants will not be thetechnology that facilitates these markets. The DOE in the last decades of the 20thcentury developed much more efficient technologies that gasified coal and then burnedthe gas product in modern combined gas turbine/steam turbine systems that allowedthe same amount of power to be produced with 30 percent less coal, less carbon release and significantly fewer air contaminants. These combined cycle systems are operated athigh pressures so that carbon capture would also be much cheaper and more efficient. …

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