Supporting NETL’s Carbon Storage Program Peer Review

Client: American Society of Mechanical Engineers, in support of the National Energy Technology Laboratory
pipeline Scoring graphs from the carbon storage report Carbon storage report covers NETL peer review website

Project Overview

In October 2012, Nexight Group worked with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to conduct a rigorous expert peer review of 16 projects, totaling nearly $40 million in federal R&D funding, of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) Carbon Storage Program.

Need

The mission of the NETL-managed Carbon Storage Program is to create a public benefit by discovering and developing methods to economically and permanently store greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels. The technologies developed through the program will be used to maintain fossil fuel power plants as viable, clean sources of electric power. 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 Carbon Storage Program research projects and, where applicable, to make recommendations for individual project improvement.

Our Solution

To help ASME facilitate and document the NETL Carbon Storage 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 Carbon Storage Program to a panel of seven expert reviewers. These projects, which were mostly being conducted at universities, represented a portfolio of fundamental science, applied laboratory experimentation and modeling, and applied field projects in the following focus areas:

  • Geologic sequestration site characterization
  • Geologic storage technologies
  • Simulation and risk assessment
  • Monitoring, verification, and accounting
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 100 recommendations and action items to strengthen projects—to guide and redirect the Carbon Storage Program projects, as appropriate.

Impact

The Carbon Storage Program peer review involved the independent review of nearly $40 million in federal R&D funding. 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 that cost-effective, reliable carbon storage becomes a viable option for the U.S. energy sector.