Supporting NETL’s Advanced Energy Systems Program Peer Review

Client: American Society of Mechanical Engineers, in support of the National Energy Technology Laboratory
power turbine Advanced Energy Systems scoring graph Advanced Energy Systems peer review report covers NETL peer review website

Project Overview

In April 2012, Nexight Group worked with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to conduct a rigorous expert peer review of 16 projects, totaling nearly $715 million in federal R&D funding, of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) Advanced Energy Systems Program.

Need

The mission of the NETL-managed Advanced Energy Systems Program is to improve the efficiency of coal-based power systems, enabling affordable carbon dioxide capture; increase plant availability; and maintain the highest environmental standards. The Program supports gasification-related R&D to convert coal into synthesis gas that can in turn be converted into electricity, chemicals, hydrogen, and liquid fuels. In compliance with requirements from the Office of Management and Budget, NETL worked with ASME to plan a peer review with independent technical experts to assess ongoing Advanced Energy Systems Program research projects and, where applicable, to make recommendations for individual project improvement.

Our Solution

To help ASME facilitate and document the NETL Advanced Energy Systems Program peer review, we assembled a team of five Nexight writers and technical experts to attend the peer review meeting. During the five-day meeting, principal investigators presented 16 projects selected from the NETL Advanced Energy Systems Program to a panel of eight expert reviewers. These projects represented a portfolio of fundamental science, national laboratory research, and large-scale industry projects in the following focus areas:

  • Hydrogen turbines
  • Gasifier optimization
  • Gas cleaning
  • Gas separation
Following each presentation, we facilitated question-and-answer discussions with the principal investigators and the reviewers as well as discussions of the strengths, weaknesses, recommendations, and action items for each of the projects. This facilitation kept the peer review agenda on track and made sure each project was adequately reviewed. Using notes taken during meeting discussions and electronic comments provided by each reviewer, we developed two 100-page reports that synthesized the reviewers’ feedback into concise, technically accurate, and actionable summaries. The first report—the meeting summary and recommendations report—will be published on the NETL peer review website. NETL will use the second report—an internal report with the reviewer comments on individual projects, including more than 90 recommendations and action items to strengthen projects—to guide and redirect the Advanced Energy Systems Program projects, as appropriate.

Impact

The Advanced Energy Systems Program peer review involved the independent review of nearly $715 million in federal R&D funding. The results from this peer review will be used to inform future Advanced Energy Systems Program funding decisions and enable program managers to track progress and improvements. The results from this peer review will be used to strengthen the 16 projects reviewed, improving the value generated by the investment of public R&D funds and ultimately increasing the likelihood of more cost-effective, reliable, and efficient coal-based power systems in the U.S. energy sector.