Carnegie Mellon University
April 04, 2013

CEE Enjoys Fruitful Collaboration with NETL

CEE Enjoys Fruitful  Collaboration with NETL

In 2010, Carnegie Mellon University entered into an exciting partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), a national laboratory focused on advancing fossil energy technology and environmental performance. The partnership, known as the Regional University Alliance (RUA), links NETL with Carnegie Mellon University and four other top-ranked universities:  Pennsylvania State University, University of Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia University. Although Carnegie Mellon researchers have worked with NETL scientists for decades, the formation of the RUA heralded a new era of productive, collaborative research between NETL and the university, and CEE researchers have played a key role in the partnership. 

Assistant Research Professor Athanasios Karamalidis is one of several CEE faculty currently collaborating with NETL researchers. Karamalidis, who is studying the impact of geologic carbon dioxide sequestration on groundwater and the geochemistry of shale gas development sites, supported the idea of the partnership from the start. Because he had previously worked for NETL as a visiting research fellow before joining the CEE faculty in 2010, he was in a unique position to strengthen the link between CEE and NETL. “Both groups wanted to boost our collaboration,” Karamalidis explained. “In some ways it served as a model for other universities in the RUA.” 

The scope of CEE’s partnership with NETL has extended steadily. Currently, six faculty and nine PhD students in the department are working with NETL scientists on a variety of research efforts in support of NETL’s programmatic goals. The majority of the research being conducted centers on geologic carbon dioxide sequestration and Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction, two emerging topics in energy technology. “Both CEE and NETL have much to offer in confronting national and global energy-related challenges,” Karamalidis explained. “NETL is the leading national laboratory in shale gas exploration research and carbon dioxide capture, storage, and utilization, while CEE researchers have extensive experience in subsurface processes. When you put those two together and create a continuous flow of information, you end up with very strong achievements.”

The collaboration has created numerous opportunities for both organizations. Laboratories, resources, and ideas are shared in a dynamic environment that Karamalidis described as “flexible and strongly oriented toward interdisciplinary collaboration.” The collaboration has also forged new research connections around the country. Thanks to their participation in a number of NETL-run programs, CEE researchers have worked on projects with researchers from fellow RUA universities and national laboratories, including Lawrence Livermore, Pacific Northwest, and Los Alamos. 

The efforts of CEE and NETL researchers to advance energy technology has fostered a strong synergy between the two organizations. CEE looks forward to continuing its partnership with NETL.