Manchin Announces $7.15 Million in Grants for West Virginia University Research Corporation, National Energy Technology Laboratory

January 29, 2024

Charleston, WV – Today, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, announced that West Virginia University Research Corporation and the National Energy Technology Laboratory, located in Morgantown, will receive grants through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office to research and develop tools that improve the energy efficiency of both industrial heating, as well as ammonia and ethylene production. In addition, West Virginia University will join a partnership to develop low-heat, electromagnetic thermo-catalysis technology for ethylene production from biogenic feedstocks. 

“As America’s energy powerhouse, West Virginia has always been on the cutting edge of researching and developing new energy technologies. These grants will help leading West Virginia institutions advance scientific knowledge and economic development in the region while also improving their energy efficiency. The entire Mountain State can be proud that West Virginia continues to be a national leader in building technologies that will make our future more energy secure,” said Chairman Manchin.

Individual Awards and Project Details:

  • $3,000,000 — West Virginia University Research Corporation: West Virginia University Research Corporation and partners aim to develop a novel, electrified chemical reactor for simultaneous production of ammonia and ethylene. The novel reactor is enabled by a programmable pulsed microwave energy deposition technique and real-time optimization. The reactor will also use a specially developed monolithic catalyst development and embedded sensing capabilities. The technology integrates ethylene production and ammonia synthesis in a single reactor operating at a reduced temperature while also preventing undesirable coking reactions. The process could provide a decarbonized and low-heat pathway for both ethylene and ammonia production, two chemicals that are responsible for large amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • $3,000,000 — West Virginia University in partnership with University of South Carolina and Benedict College, Applied Catalysts, Siemens, RAPID, Shell: Autumn Energy Corporation and its partners aim to develop a low-heat, electromagnetic thermo-catalysis technology for ethylene production from biogenic feedstocks. Microwave and radio frequency heating technologies would provide localized heating, resulting in a tunable platform technology that could enable enhanced chemical conversion. The use of volumetric heating coupled with optimization of the heat input to the ethylene conversion reaction can improve energy efficiency, reaction selectivity, and conversion efficiency. The electrified thermo-catalytic process would enable decarbonized bioethylene production from bioethanol with reduced energy and costs to enable commercialization. Other benefits include increased throughput, reduced footprint, increased modularity, and lower operating temperatures.
  • $1,150,000 — National Energy Technology Laboratory: The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and partners aim to decarbonize conventional industrial depolymerization processes that break down recycled polymers into building block chemicals. The technology will use a microwave-based approach for low-temperature aqueous-based hydrolysis of polyurethane. NETL will identify lower energy routes for the hydrolysis of polymers into useful chemical building blocks that can be used to re-manufacture of new polymer products. The technology will electrify the depolymerization process and offset the use of virgin fossil feedstocks with recycled chemicals. The technology will demonstrate a fast, efficient, and fully electrified alternative to conventional solvent-based thermal processing, capable of reducing the carbon intensity of polymer hydrolysis by 90%.

To learn more from the U.S. Department of Energy, please click here.